South Florida State College’s Dental Education programs equip students with the knowledge and skills to begin careers as dental assistants and dental hygienists.
Dental assistants have broad range of duties in a dentist’s office. They take and develop x-rays, maintain patient records, schedule appointments, prepare and sterilize instruments, and assist dentists before, during, and after procedures. SFSC’s occupational certificate program in Dental Assisting prepares graduates to work as dental assistants.
Dental hygienists provide preventive dental care through dental hygiene treatment, making molds of teeth for evaluation and treatment, applying decay preventatives, examining the mouth for signs of disease, and educating patients about good oral health. SFSC’s Associate in Science (AS) degree program in Dental Hygiene prepares students for employment as dental hygienists.
Graduates of SFSC’s Dental Education programs find work in general and specialty dental practices, research programs, professional educational programs, community, state, and federal health centers, hospitals, institutions that care for the elderly or disabled persons, prisons, dental products promotion, Federal programs such as VA hospitals and the armed services.
In SFSC’s service district of DeSoto, Hardee, and Highlands counties, the average starting salary is $13 an hour for dental assistants and $20 an hour for dental hygienists, according to Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The U.S. Department of Labor projects that the demand for dental assistants and dental hygienists will grow by over 30 percent in the next decade, or faster than average for all occupations.