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Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene

Required Advisement Session

Sessions are held from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

  • March 9
  • April 27
  • May 4 and 17
  • June 15 and 29
  • July 6, 18, 27
  • August 3, 17, 24

About the Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene Program

Dental hygienists work in a variety of settings. Hygienists are licensed professional members of the health care industry who work to promote and maintain oral health in the population. Career options include education, sales, health, management, research and public health.

UNM’s dental hygiene program is a five-semester curriculum that starts in the spring semester. Each class of 24 students is selected through the Division of Dental Hygiene's admissions process.

Student selection is based upon grades in the pre-professional courses, state residency, work experience and a personal interview, whenever possible. Out-of-state applications are considered, but New Mexico residents receive preferential consideration. New Mexicans should be prepared to document state residency if requested to do so.

Application deadline September 1 before 5:00 PM

Photo of Dental Hygiene students doing a cleaningFees and Expenses

Dental Hygiene students are responsible for a number of expenses in addition to tuition, online course fees, housing, board exams, books and other usual college expenses.

A one-time fee of  $4,000 covers the purchase of the student instrument kit and uniforms. This expense is due during the first week of classes in the first year of dental hygiene school. This fee may change without notice.

Laboratory and clinical fees are $2,000 per year except in junior year, where it is $2,600. Fees are subject to change on approval from UNM’s Chancellor for Health Sciences.

Dental hygiene applicants should be aware that upon graduation from the dental hygiene program they must take licensing boards in order to practice. The Dental Hygiene National Board, which tests a candidate's competency in didactic material, costs approximately $400. Clinical proficiency is tested in a separate board examination commonly called the "State Board." New Mexico does not conduct a separate state board, but instead belongs to a regional licensing body called the Western Regional Examination Board. Although successful completion of this examination enables hygienists to practice in the states participating the regional board, it is quite costly – approximately $1,200. Please see the WREB website or visit for more information.  New Mexico also administers a separate jurisprudence exam, which costs $110, and a state background check costs about $300.

Miscellaneous costs, such as graduation expenses and professional dues (including the student professional association) also arise. Such expenses can vary, depending upon an individual student’s preferences (UNM's graduation expenses are not optional, however).

Please note that all fees are estimates and are subject to change from year to year.


Submit completed application to:
Admission Coordinator
Dental Programs
MSC09 5020

Application requirements

Application Instructions

Click on each section below for more information

This is a separate admissions process and requires a separate application packet from that of the Division of Dental Hygiene. You must contact the UNM Office of Admissions to obtain the correct information.

Students transferring from another institution or those seeking admission to UNM for the first time must submit a formal application to the UNM Office of Admissions. Consult the UNM general catalog for information regarding application and transfer regulations.

UNM pre-professional students accepted into the dental hygiene program who are registered in other colleges, such as University College or the College of Arts & Sciences, must transfer to the Division of Dental Hygiene in the spring semester of entry into the program. This means that Dental Hygiene candidates actually complete two separate application processes – one submitted to the University, with a second submitted to the Division of Dental Hygiene.

Complete all portions of the application forms and return them to the Division of Dental Hygiene in time by the application deadline (September 1 of the academic year of anticipated enrollment in the Dental Hygiene program).

Candidates are hereby notified that if any document is missing as of the deadline for application, the division cannot consider that candidate. Candidates are strongly encouraged to begin this process early. Be aware that it takes considerable time for documents such as transcripts to be transferred from one institution to another.

New Mexicans receive preferential consideration. Age, gender, disability, race, religion and/or national origin are not factors in admission considerations.

About transcripts: An overall grade point average of 2.4 or above on a 4.0 scale is required. Applicants without at least a 2.4 GPA will not be considered. A 2.4 GPA does not guarantee acceptance into the program, however.

About verification of employment: Verification must by typewritten on official letterhead of the office/organization in which you have worked. The letter should clearly state the responsibilities you fulfilled, as well the period during which you were employed. Statements regarding your employer’s opinion of your suitability as a dental hygiene candidate are also appropriate. The letter must be signed and dated by the dentist/hiring official and contain a phone number for verification purposes.


The mission of the University of New Mexico Division of Dental Hygiene is to educate dental hygienists to improve the health of the people of New Mexico through academic and clinical training of highly qualified dental hygiene professionals, to provide the highest quality oral health care services to the community, to advance the art and science of dental hygiene via research and other scholarly activities, and to sponsor services that validate the programs of the university. 

Goals & Competencies

Prepare students through appropriate academic and clinical education to be qualified dental professionals utilizing a competency-based curriculum [PDF].


Dental hygienists must be able to systematically collect, analyze and accurately record baseline data on the general, oral and psychosocial health status using methods consistent with medicolegal principles.

  1. Obtain, review and update a complete medical, family psychosocial and dental history, including assessment of vital signs, and record findings.
  2. Recognize the patient record as a legal document and maintain its accuracy and consistency.
  3. Recognize medical conditions and medications that require special precautions or consideration prior to or during dental hygiene treatment and consult with health care providers as needed.
  4. Identify the patient at risk for medical emergency and be prepared to handle emergency should it occur during an appointment.
  5. Perform an extraoral and intraoral screening and record findings.
  6. Perform an assessment of the teeth and accurately record the results.
  7. Identify need for and obtain radiographs of diagnostic quality.
  8. Radiographically distinguish normal from abnormal anatomical findings.
  9. Evaluate the periodontium and identify conditions that compromise periodontal health and function.
  10. Identify conditions and diseases that affect dietary intake and food selection and recognize risks and benefits of alternative food patterns.
  11. Analyze and interpret the data related to and congruent with the diagnosis of the dentist and other health professionals.
  12. Utilize, interpret and analyze appropriate indices for patient assessment.
  13. Assess and analyze patient risk factors that may impact dental hygiene care.


  1. Dental hygienists must be able to provide treatment strategies to facilitate optimal oral health.
  2. Develop a dental hygiene diagnosis using all dental hygiene assessments.
  3. Utilize reflective judgment to develop a patient-centered dental hygiene care plan based upon the patient’s diagnosis, in collaboration with the patient and other health providers as indicated, and present dental hygiene care plan to the patient.
  4. Recognize the importance of informed consent and obtain it from the patient prior to treatment.


Dental hygienists must be able to provide treatment that includes preventive and therapeutic procedures to promote and maintain oral health and assist the patient in achieving oral health goals.

  1. Apply basic and advanced principle of hand and powered dental hygiene instrumentation to remove deposits without trauma to hard and/or soft tissue.
    • Compare/contrast use of hand, sonic and ultrasonic instruments.
    • Identify indications and contraindications for ultrasonic use.
    • Identify appropriate instrument and/or insert for task.
    • Demonstrate finger rests and fulcrums for use of hand instruments.
    • Demonstrate placement, adaptation, angulation and working strokes with hand instruments.
    • Appropriately utilize curettes, scalers and other suitable hand instruments.
    • Utilize standard ultrasonic inserts for removal of heavy calculus
    • Utilize modified ultrasonic inserts for subgingival debridement and root planning.
  2. Evaluate and utilize methods to ensure the health and safety of the patient and the dental hygienists in the delivery of dental hygiene care.
  3. Control pain and anxiety during treatment through the use of accepted clinical techniques and appropriate behavioral management strategies, including, but not limited to:
    • Administration of local anesthesia
    • Administration of analgesia (nitrous oxide)
    • Application of topical anesthesia
  4. Select and administer the appropriate chemotherapeutic agent and provide pre- and post-treatment instructions including:
    • Subgingival irrigation technique
    • Use of site specific delivery vehicle systems
    • Professional and home fluoride therapy
  5. Provide adjunct dental hygiene services that can be legally performed, including, but not limited to:
    • Application of pit and fissure sealants
    • Cleaning of removable prostheses and inspection
    • Placement of temporary restorations
    • Placing and removing rubber dams
    • Care and maintenance of restorations
    • Selective coronal polishing
    • Preparing, placing and removing periodontal packs
    • Removing sutures
    • Taking impressions and wax bite
  6. Evaluate factors when selecting strategies that can be used to promote patient adherence to disease prevention or health maintenance.
  7. Provide nutritional counseling related to oral conditions and/or disease.
  8. Implement and evaluate measures to minimize occupational hazards in the work place, including postural and engineering factors such as equipment and instrument design.
  9. Communicate effectively with diverse individuals and groups, serving all persons without discrimination by acknowledging and appreciating diversity.


Dental hygienists must be able to evaluate the effectiveness of planned clinical and educational services and modify as necessary.

  1. Determine outcomes of dental hygiene interventions (re-evaluation) using indices, instruments, exam techniques and patient self-report.
  2. Evaluate the patient’s satisfaction with oral health status achieved.
  3. Develop and maintain a continuing care program and reevaluate goals, diagnoses and services when expected outcomes are not achieved.
  4. Evaluate patient’s dental needs, and provide dental and/or other health care referrals to patients when indicated.

Provide comprehensive dental hygiene treatment and referrals to those individuals served by the University through a complete, sequential and fully monitored system of oral health care delivery.


Entry-level dental hygienists must be able to discern and manage ethical issues of dental hygiene practice in a rapidly changing environment.

  1. Apply state and federal laws, recommendations and regulations in the provision of oral health care.
  2. Apply the provisions of the American Dental Hygienists Association’s Code of Ethics in a dental hygiene practice.
  3. Apply the principles of ethical behavior in decision-making, in interactions with patients and staff, and in personal conduct.
  4. Apply quality assurance mechanisms to ensure continuous commitment to accepted standards of care.
  5. Develop practice management and marketing strategies to be used in the delivery of oral health care.
  6. Ensure the privacy of the patient during dental hygiene treatment and counseling and the confidentiality of patient records.

Self-Care Instruction

Dental hygienists must be able to provide planned educational services using appropriate interpersonal communication skills and educational strategies to promote optimal health.

  1. Identify the health needs of individuals and assist them in the development of appropriate and individualized self-care regimens.
  2. Respect the goals, values, beliefs, and preferences of the patient while promoting optimal oral and general health.
  3. Evaluate factors that promote patient adherence to disease prevention and encourage patients to assume responsibility for health and wellness.

Community Involvement

Entry-level dental hygienists must be able to initiate and assume responsibility for health promotion and disease prevention activities for diverse populations.

  1. Promote the values of oral and general health and wellness to the public and organizations within and outside the profession.
  2. Identify services that promote oral health and prevent oral disease and related conditions.
  3. Assess, plan, implement and evaluate community-based oral health programs and plan for future initiatives.
  4. Be able to influence consumer groups, businesses and government agencies to support health care issues.
  5. Use screening, referral, and education to bring consumers into the health care delivery system.
  6. Provide dental hygiene services in a variety of settings including offices, hospitals, clinics, extended care facilities, community programs and schools.
  7. Evaluate reimbursement mechanisms and their impact on the patient’s access to oral health care.
  8. Advocate for effective oral heath for underserved populations.

Create a positive and rewarding academic environment through the provision of scholarly programs that facilitate continued growth and enrichment of all students and faculty.

Information Management and Critical Thinking  

Entry-level dental hygienists must be able to acquire and synthesize information in a critical, scientific and effective manner.

  1. Recognize and use written and electronic sources of information.
  2. Evaluate the credibility and potential hazards of dental products and techniques.
  3. Evaluate published clinical and basic science research and integrate this information to improve the oral health of the patient.
  4. Recognize the responsibility and demonstrate the ability to communicate professional knowledge verbally and in writing.
  5. Accept responsibility for solving problems and making decisions based on accepted scientific principles.

Foster opportunities by utilizing resources, both locally and nationally, for faculty and student involvement in activities that are consistent with professional development and promote dental health as an integral component of community health.

Professional Identity

Entry-level dental hygienists must be concerned with improving the knowledge, skill, and values of the profession.

  1. Pursue career opportunities within health care, industry, education, research, and other roles as they evolve for the dental hygienist.
  2. Expand and contribute to knowledge base of dental hygiene.
  3. Promote the values of the profession to public and other organizations outside of the dental profession.
  4. Access professional and social networks to pursue professional goals.
  5. Continuously perform self-assessment for lifelong learning and professional growth. 

Recruit and retain the highest quality of faculty and students.

Transcript Information

If you are transferring from a college other than UNM: The UNM Office of Admissions will require that you submit official transcripts from all colleges you have attended. You must also submit a separate official transcript from all colleges to the Division of Dental Hygiene. Transcripts must be sent directly from the respective colleges in sealed envelopes containing the official college stamp to be considered official. Be sure that the the Division of Dental Hygiene is supplied with documents for coursework and grades in the fall semester prior to the application deadline.

If you are currently enrolled in UNM: Arrange to have the UNM Office of Admissions forward an official transcript of any work you have completed at UNM ,plus a "Credit Evaluation Statement" detailing coursework you may have taken at other institutions. 

Important note: The process of requesting and forwarding transcripts and "Credit Evaluation Statements" takes considerable time. Protect yourself by planning ahead so that you will be in compliance with the September 1 deadline. Do not underestimate the time required for these procedures.

Incomplete applications will not be considered. Candidates are solely responsible for contacting the Division of Dental Hygiene to assure that their applications are complete and that all documents have been received. This is referred to as a "File Check" and can be accomplished by calling the Division. The division will not contact applicants to notify them of incomplete applications  A completed application includes all required documents, and all four pages of the application,as well as an application fee payable to the UNM Division of Dental Hygiene.

Pre-professional courses may be in progress at the time of application, provided the courses are satisfactorily completed at the time of entry into the program. It is important to realize that those having completed all prerequisite courses prior to the Dental Hygiene Committee's evaluation process, which takes place during the fall semester after the application deadline, will fare better in the process. Prerequisite courses are listed in Admissions packet.

It is strongly preferred that prerequisite courses be completed within five years of application. Prerequisite courses that have been taken longer than five years prior to date of desired entrance will lead to points being deducted during the admission process.