To qualify as a dental hygienist in the U.K. students must gain a Diploma in Dental Hygiene. Courses are full time and usually take two years ( twenty seven months, to be precise) to complete. There are nineteen different training schools/institutes who provide these courses around the U.K. Many hygiene courses are closely linked with dental therapy courses, however they are separate courses resulting in different qualifications and responsibilities.
To be accepted on a dental hygiene course there are specific qualifications that are required, although there are exceptions students usually need five GCSE’s from grade A-C, including a biological science, and two A levels grade A-C, preferably one of which should include a science based subject. Some schools accept a dental nursing qualification in place of A levels, but as these courses are extremely popular with limited places available, A levels are often preferred. Equivalent Scottish qualifications are also accepted. Some teaching schools require higher grades than others so ensure you carefully research each training institutes requirements carefully before applying.
All dental applications are handled by UCAS, and many students now apply online. Courses start in September each year and in order for applications to be considered they must be submitted between June and January of the year prior to the course start date. The earlier the application is made the better. For details on available courses and for advise on applying, potential students should visit the UCAS website – www.ucas.ac.uk. For further details about the selection process for students individual dental school websites should be visited. It is also advisable to obtain additional information from related websites such as the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT), www.bsdht.org.uk and The General Dental Council (GDC), www.gdc-uk.org for example, where questions can be answered, and advise can be given. Hygienists can also qualify through the armed forces, if you are interested in following this route you should arrange an informal interview with your local Navy, RAF or Army office to obtain all required information.
All dental students will undergo a CRB check (Criminal Records Bureau), and will also have to fill out a form regarding their personal medical history, they will also have to have blood tests where screening for particular diseases takes place. Immunisation against certain diseases is offered such as Hepatitis B immunisation, and it is advisable for students to accept this course of injections as dental hygienists must legally receive the Hepatitis B immunisation, in order to treat patients.
On the course
If you are successful in gaining a place on a dental hygiene course you should be prepared for topics that you will study while training. Topics include, anatomy and physiology, dental histology, pharmacology, diet and nutrition, behavioural science, pathology, oral medicine, treatment of periodontal disease, prevention of oral disease, radiography and many more. Training usually involves topics being addressed in separate modules, all dental schools course structure varies from place to place, so researching the different approaches of schools can help students to decide which school/course will suit them best. Training in all schools involves both theoretical study and clinical training. Students will progress from theory to practical lessons, beginning with treating artificial teeth and finally moving on to treat real life patients!
Dental training Schools/Institutes
Defence Dental Services Training Establishment (Aldershot)
Queens University of Belfast Schools for Dentistry
BSc Dental Hygiene and Therapy Birmingham Dental Hospital
School of Dental Hygiene University of Bristol/ Dental Hospital
Training and Education Centre for DCP’s Cardiff University
Unit of Health Sciences Dundee Dental Hospital
School of Health Sciences Edinburgh Dental Institute
School for Professionals Complementary to Dentistry Glasgow Dental Hospital and School
School of Dental Hygiene and Therapy Leeds Dental Institute
Liverpool University Dental Hospital
School of Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy Eastman Dental Hospital (London)
King’s College Hospital (London)
Bart’s and London Centre for Dental Care Professionals
Unit of Oral Health Science Manchester University
Manchester Outreach –Salford
School of Dental Hygiene Newcastle Dental Hospital
BSc Dental Hygiene and Therapy University of Portsmouth
Programme in Hygiene and Therapy School of clinical Dentistry University of Sheffield
Department of Health and Human Sciences University of Essex