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. The advisor can assist the student to recognize and acknowledge that he or she is in academic difficulty and can provide appropriate guidance.  At all times, the faculty member can act to reassure, counsel, advise and refer students to appropriate individuals for help with their particular problem. 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 and academic advisor.  An academic warning, unto itself, does not require prescribed action on the part of the student.  It is expected that the student who has received an academic warning will correct mid-semester academic deficiencies by the end of that particular semester.    

An academic warning is an official communication between the program director and the “at risk” student.  Academic warning is offered at mid-semester.  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 according to the following standards. A student can be considered for dismissal from the School of Dentistry for academic deficiencies or violation of University regulations. The Academic Performance Committee is responsible for considering students for academic dismissal. 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.

Academic Dismissal:  An option to appear before the Academic Performance Committee will be extended to the student before a vote is taken to recommend academic dismissal. The purpose of the appearance is to inform the Committee of extenuating circumstances which may have contributed to the student's performance. The student may request that other appropriate verbal and/or written testimony regarding these circumstances be presented at this meeting. Only members of the Committee will be present when the vote for dismissal is taken.  

Performance Review: Each student’s performance is reviewed at the middle and end of every term by the APC. At mid-term the APC 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 determines the student’s promotion status. The APC evaluates other aspects of the student’s performance: (1) course grade(s), (2) attendance record, (3) professionalism, (4) and psychomotor skill development. The APC 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 Academic Affairs.

The policies below apply to students in the bachelor’s degree programs (entry-level and degree completion). 

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 (bachelor completion only),
  • 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

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

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

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. 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.

Academic Grievance Policies

Due Process Grade Assignment Disagreement

A student wishing to appeal the assignment of a grade must submit her/his grievance to the Course Director within seven (7) days of the grade assignment. The appeal mechanism for challenging a grade is limited to: (1) possible clerical errors in calculating or recording a grade, or (2) allegation of mistakes or unfairness in application of the published academic standards in the assignment of a grade. It is the responsibility of the student to substantiate her/his assertion that an incorrect grade has been assigned.

If the student’s concerns are not resolved after a meeting with the Course Director, the student may submit a written appeal to the Division Director. The written appeal must be made within seven days of the student’s meeting with the Course Director and must contain information to substantiate the assertion that an incorrect grade has been assigned.

If the disagreement is not resolved after meeting with the Course Director, the student may submit a written appeal to the Division Director within seven days of the Course Director decision. The written appeal must be made within seven days of the student’s meeting with the Course Director and must contain information to substantiate the assertion that an incorrect grade has been assigned.

If the disagreement is not resolved at the division level, the student may submit a written appeal to the Department Chair within seven days of the Division Director's decision. The written appeal must be made within seven days of the student’s meeting with the Division Director and must contain information to substantiate the assertion that an incorrect grade has been assigned. 

If the disagreement is not resolved at the departmental level, the student may submit a written appeal to the Dean of the School of Dentistry within seven days of the departmental decision. If the Dean agrees to review the matter, he/she will review only that the appeal process was conducted appropriately. This School of Dentistry policy supersedes any other grievance policies, and decisions made in this process are final.

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 withdrawal 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. For more information click here.