Dental Hygiene

Dental hygienists are licensed health care professionals that specialize in preventing oral health problems and diseases. To become a licensed, registered dental hygienist requires successful completion of an ADA accredited dental hygiene program, The National Dental Hygiene Board Examination, and a state or regional examination. The primary responsibility of a dental hygienist is to treat and educate patients in the control and prevention of oral diseases. Typical functions of the clinical dental hygienist include assessment of health histories, evaluating and charting oral conditions, removing deposits (plaque, tartar, and stain) from the teeth, exposing and processing dental x-rays, applying preventive agents to the tooth surfaces such as fluoride and sealants, and providing individualized oral hygiene instruction services.

This growing career field is projected to be one of the 30 fastest growing occupations. The population growth combined with the increasing rate of retention of natural teeth will continue to stimulate the need for dental hygienist. For additional information on the profession of dental hygiene, contact the American Dental Hygienists' Association.

Program Policies 

Academic Advising

The division director and faculty serve as student advisors. Advisors have the role of assisting students to solve problems and/or find alternatives or options. The advisor provides advice and opinions, facts or information, and clarifies policies for the student. Topics that may be addressed through faculty advising include academic issues, program policies, study problems, time management, and clinical progress, as well as the advisor’s referral to other support systems in the university or community.

Academic Warning

The Academic Performance Committee meets twice per semester to review students’ academic progress in the program.  At the mid-semester meeting, students identified as performing at an unsatisfactory level in any course are sent a letter from the program director requesting that they meet with their course instructor to determine what strategies may be needed to improve their status before the end of the semester.  An academic warning is an official communication between the program director and the “at risk” student.  Academic warning is offered at midsemester.  A student will receive an academic warning from the program director for performing unsatisfactory in any course.  Academic warning is a courtesy to the student, allowing for supportive dialog between the student and the dental hygiene administration.

Advancement, Probation and Dismissal

A satisfactory rate of progress toward the degree is determined by the Academic Performance Committee (APC) for the bachelor’s degree, or the Committee on Graduate Studies (COGS) for the master’s degree, according to the following standards. Students may be suspended, dismissed, and/or refused readmission at any time if circumstances of an ethical, legal, moral, health, social, psychomotor skill development, or academic nature are considered to justify such an action.

Performance Review: Each student’s performance is reviewed at the middle and end of every term by the APC/COGS. At midterm the APC/COGS determines whether the student is progressing satisfactorily or whether a warning letter is indicated. Warning letters specify each course in which the student is performing unsatisfactorily and suggest that the student meet with the course director to assist in remediation strategies. Students are responsible for arranging instructor counseling and assistance in remedying any academic deficiencies.

Promotion Recommendations: At semester’s end, the APC/COGS determines the student’s promotion status. The APC/COGS evaluates other aspects of the student’s performance: (1) course grade(s), (2) attendance record, (3) professional behaviors, (4) and psychomotor skill development.  The APC/COGS also may assess extenuating circumstances that might have affected student progress on an individual basis. Recommendations are forwarded to the program director for final approval. A student performing at an unsatisfactory level will receive written notification of her/his status from the Associate Dean of Student Affairs.

The policies below apply to students in the bachelor’s degree programs (entry-level and degree completion). Students in the Master of Science degree program follow policies of the Graduate School of Biomedical Science, found in this Catalog.

Unconditional Advancement – A student may be considered for Unconditional Advancement if the student:

  • Achieves a minimum grade point average of 2.0 each semester,
  • Successfully completes all prescribed courses and semester requirements, and
  • Earns a satisfactory grade in each course taken.

In addition, the faculty will consider all areas listed above under Promotion Recommendations.

Probationary Advancement – A student may be considered for Probationary Advancement if the student:

  • Withdraws from a prescribed course with the approval of the department chair but meets all other conditions for Unconditional Advancement,
  • Receives an unsatisfactory grade in a single course; or
  • Receives an I (Incomplete) grade in any course(s).

A student who receives an unsatisfactory grade in any course may be required to repeat all or part of the academic year. When repeating any portion of the academic year the student must earn a satisfactory grade in each course or be subject to dismissal from the program.

Dismissal – Dismissal from the program may be recommended if a student receives an unsatisfactory grade(s) in:

  • One or more courses in one semester,
  • A course being repeated,
  • A course being remediated,
  • Any course taken while repeating any portion of the academic year, or
  • Any course taken while on probation
  • Receiving an unsatisfactory or failing grade in professionalism

Remediation – Remediation of a course in which an unsatisfactory grade was earned may be considered by the APC/COGS if recommended by the course director and/or APC/COGS. Methods for remediation are determined by the APC/COGS in consultation with the individual course instructor, and specified in writing to the student. The student is expected to complete the course(s) within the time frame specified by the APC/COGS.

In addition, the APC will consider all areas listed above under Promotion Recommendations. The APC/COGS reserves the right to make alternate recommendations as deemed appropriate.

Appeal Procedures

 1.    A student may appeal an Academic Performance Committee decision that recommends: a) remediation, b) repetition of the year or c) academic dismissal.  The student submits written notification of his/her desire to appeal to the Dean’s office.  This written request must be received by the Dean’s office within 5 days following the student’s receipt of the written notification of the Academic Performance Committee’s recommendation.

2.    The Dean will consult with appropriate individuals and render a decision to uphold or overturn the Academic Performance Committee decision.  The student will receive written notification of the Dean’s decision.

Student appeals and grievances are handled through established policies and procedures for the School of Dentistry, outlined in the Academic Grievance Policies section of the Catalog. 


The standing of students in their work is expressed by the following grades:

A = Excellent

B = Above Average

C = Average

D = Below Average

F = Failure

Grades in courses in which performance is graded an S (Satisfactory) or U (Unsatisfactory) are not used in computing grades point average.

A = 4 points

B = 3 points

C = 2 points

D = 1 point

F = 0 points

The symbol I (Incomplete) may be recorded for a student who has not completed course assignments at the conclusion of the course.

Grades in Clinical Rotation and Practicums

Clinical rotations and Practicums may be graded S (Satisfactory) or U (Unsatisfactory), or may be assigned a letter grade, depending on the department policy.

A grade of S or other designations of an acceptance grade is assigned if the student successfully satisfies the criteria for clinical courses. Failure to successfully satisfy the course criteria may result in a n I (Incomplete) or a U (Unsatisfactory) or a letter grade considered unsatisfactory based on departmental policy.

Criteria and time frame for removal of an I or U or other Unsatisfactory grade in clinical courses are determined based on clinical documentation and consultation with the Clinical Supervisor/Clinical Instructor. An I or U or other unsatisfactory grade may require that the student complete an additional affiliation or other remediation that could extend the professional curriculum beyond the expected graduation date. More than one unsatisfactory grade is not allowed within the total clinical course sequence.


A grade of I (Incomplete) may be assigned when a student has not satisfactorily completed all course requirements by the conclusion of the course requirements by the conclusion of the course. Unless the student has been granted a Leave of Absence, all incomplete work must be completed within one year, at which time the grade will be changed to the appropriate letter grade. When an I is issued pending a grade in a course that is a prerequisite for another course, the I must be removed before the student will be allowed to enroll in the next sequential course.

Dropping a Course

There is a six course drop limit established by the Texas Senate (SB 1231). This legislation is applicable to all Texas public colleges and universities.

Withdrawal from a Course

From the beginning of the third week to the end of the eleventh week of classes (or first week to the seventh week for summer term), a student may withdraw from a course and receive a W (Withdrawal) on her or his transcript. Students who wish to withdraw must meet with their faculty advisor and the course instructor, fill out the course withdraw form, and obtain necessary signatures. 

Between the end of the eleventh week (or the end of the seventh week for summer term) and the last day of class before finals, students who wish to withdraw from a course must petition the faculty through a written request to the course instructor. The petition must state why the student is unable to continue in the course. Acceptance reasons for the withdrawal do not include dissatisfaction with the instructor or course or with the expected grade or performance. The faculty will approve or deny the request. If approved, the student will receive a W on her or his transcript. If the request is denied, the instructor will assign a final grade in accordance with the criteria that is applied to other student in the course.

The instructor may recommend to the Department Chair that a student be administratively dropped from a course when the instructor can show that circumstances warrant such action. The Dean must approve this request. If approved a grade of W will be assigned.

Also see policies on withdrawal from all classes, leaves of absence, and dismissals.

Dean's Honor List

Students in the dental hygiene bachelor’s degree program in the School of Dentistry with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or greater for an academic semester may qualify for inclusion on the Dean’s Honor List. In addition to the minimum GPA, Dean’s Honor students must not have Incomplete (I) grades for an academic semester. Students must have completed at least 30 hours or 2 full academic years to earn honors.

Student Mistreatment

Mistreatment of students will not be tolerated. Mistreatment, intentional or unintentional, occurs when behavior shows disrespect for the dignity of others and interferes with the learning process. Student mistreatment may take many forms all of which impact student performance. Sexual harassment and assault, are defined as forms of student mistreatment  as defined in the Section 4.2.2 “Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy” of the Handbook of Operating Procedures  (HOP). 

Student access to personnel and processes for resolution without retaliation is detailed below. Examples of behavior that are unacceptable to the School of Dentistry include: 

  • Physical or sexual harassment/assault
  • Discrimination or harassment based on race, gender, age, ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or disability
  • Disparaging or demeaning comments about an individual or group
  • Loss of personal civility including shouting, displays of temper, public or private abuse, belittling, or humiliation
  • Use of grading or other forms of evaluation in a punitive or retaliatory manner
  • Sending student on inappropriate errands

Dental students who feel they have been mistreated may report such perceptions to any of the following:

  • Associate Dean for Student Affairs
  • Executive Director of the Academic, Faculty and Student Ombudsperson and ADA Compliance Office
  • Senior Director, Student Success & Title IX Director

These school representatives are empowered to informally discuss a student’s perceptions related to mistreatment, providing guidance. These school representatives should refer the student immediately to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs for further instructions. 

A grievance involving perceived mistreatment can be resolved in an informal or a formal manner. A student pursuing an informal nonacademic grievance resolution must contact the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, in writing, within five business days of the alleged grievance. (If the grievance involves staff, faculty, student(s) from the broader Health Science Center community, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs will liaison with other appropriate authorities, as indicated.) The Associate Dean for Student Affairs will assist the student in the informal resolution of the grievance, to be completed within 30 calendar days from the written grievance. If an informal resolution is not achieved, the aggrieved student has an additional five business days to file a formal written grievance. 

A student considering a formal nonacademic grievance must contact the Associate Dean for Student Affairs for review of applicable policies and procedures. If the allegation is one of sexual harassment/assault, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs will engage the Health Science Center’s Senior Director, Student Success & Title IX Director. The Health Science Center is committed to maintaining a learning and working environment that is free from discrimination based on sex in accordance with Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs or activities; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits sex discrimination in employment (Section 4.2.1 in the HOP); and the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE Act).

 (Please see additional related policies “General Regulations and Requirements, Sexual Assault Policy” at )

 The student must file a formal written grievance with the Associate Dean for Student Affairs within five business days from the alleged incident. A student initially attempting informal grievance must file the formal grievance, in writing, within five business days of the 30 calendar days allowed for informal resolution. The formal grievance must include a detailed description of the grievance and a proposed resolution, if possible. If the grievance involves/accuses Health Science Center non-dental students or employees, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs will facilitate engagement with appropriate advocacy/supervisory institutional authorities. Copies of the written grievance will be made available to named parties and the appropriate advocacy/supervisory institutional authorities. The Associate Dean for Student Affairs (and appropriate institutional authorities noted above) may, at her/his discretion, hold discussions with or without the involved/accused individual(s) to hear and resolve the grievance, schedule a meeting between the student and the involved/accused individual(s) and/or involve other parties in facilitating a resolution of the grievance. This process will be afforded 30 calendar days from receipt of the written grievance to resolve the grievance, providing the aggrieved student a written summary of resolution. 

If the aggrieved student is dissatisfied with the resolution, he/she may file a formal written appeal with the Dean of the School of Dentistry (SOD) within 5 business days of the decision. The decision of the Dean of the SOD is final. The Dean of the SOD has 30 calendar days to provide a written decision to the student and to the Dean for Student Affairs.