BTC's campus will be closed Monday, May 27, for Memorial Day, and there will be no daytime classes Tuesday, May 28, for a Faculty In-Service Day.

Dental Hygiene

Dental Hygiene - AAS-T

Bellingham Technical College Dental Hygiene Program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) and has been granted the accreditation status of “approval without reporting requirements”. The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education.

The Commission on Dental Accreditation can be contacted at (312) 440-4653 or at 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611. The Commission’s web address is:

If you are interested in pursuing a career in the health care industry as a dental hygienist, then look into BTC’s Dental Hygiene program. You'll learn the clinical skills and core professional values needed to launch a rewarding dental hygiene career in private and public settings, such as dental offices and public health clinics. The Dental Hygiene Program is designed for students interested in pursuing an education for entry into the profession of Dental Hygiene. A cohort of 10 students will be accepted into the Dental Hygiene Program each application year.

The Dental Hygiene Program at Bellingham Technical College is designed as a sequence of didactic, laboratory and clinical courses that fulfill the educational objectives established by the American Dental Association (ADA) Commission on Dental Accreditation. The Program is 7 consecutive quarters in length. BTC Dental Hygiene students learn under the supervision of licensed dentists and dental hygienists on state-of-the-art equipment in BTC’s on-campus dental clinic. Upon successful completion, students are awarded an Associates Degree in Applied Science-Transfer (AAS-T) and are eligible for licensure as a Dental Hygienist in WA State. Program graduates are well-positioned for employment in the dental industry, with the hands-on clinical experience employers need today.

Licensure Eligibility Requirements

To practice as a dental hygienist in the state of Washington (WA), you must be licensed through the Washington State Department of Health. The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 18.29 and the Washington Administrative Code, Chapter 246-815 (WAC) outline the practice, act, and licensure criteria for dental hygienists. Specifically, the Department of Health - Dental Hygiene Licensure site details the licensure requirements. In addition to earning your AAS-T degree from the Bellingham Technical College Dental Hygiene Program, you will also be required to successfully pass the National Dental Hygiene Board Examination, the WA State Drug and Law exam, the WA state approved local anesthesia written and practical exams, a WA state approved restorative practical exam, and a WA state approved dental hygiene practical exam.

Note: BTC has not made a determination that the Dental Hygiene curriculum meets educational requirements for licensure/certification outside of Washington State. We encourage students who plan to work out-of-state to check relevant local licensure/certification requirements.

Employment Information

Data are provided on a program (not credential) level

92% BTC graduate placement rate1

$98,675 starting annual wage2
$99.944 average annual wage2
$124,426 potential annual wage2

  • Employment and Wage Data Sources

    1Employment data come from the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) and reflect WA/OR employment for students enrolled at BTC between 2017-18 and 2019-20. Students are included in the employment rate if they left with a credential. Rates are not shown for programs with fewer than 10 students meeting the above criteria.

    2Whatcom County and WA State wage data come from Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) 2021 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates and reflect 2018-21 employment. Wage data represent occupations that BTC faculty have identified as the most relevant career paths for program graduates. Note that these wages reflect employees with varying educational levels/credentials. For cases in which multiple occupations have been identified by faculty, a weighted percentile is calculated using each occupation’s percentile wage and employment size estimate. Wages are not shown for programs for which occupations do not meet the ESD’s minimum thresholds for publishing. If the program has wage data from the Washington SBCTC that involves shift work, these ESD wages reflect the same number of hours used in the annual wage calculation. Starting wage = 25th percentile, median wage = 50th percentile, wage potential = 75th percentile.

  • Estimated Program Costs

Tuition Fees and Rates overview page

Entry Information

When Can I Start?

How to Apply:

The application window for the 2024-2025 Dental Hygiene program is now open. Click here to submit an application.

First application deadline: April 9th
Students who submit a complete application by the first deadline will hear receive communications regarding an admission decision in late April or early May. If an applicant has not heard received any communications about an admission decision by May 15th, they can email to request a status update.

Second application deadline: July 9th
Students who submit a complete application by the second deadline will hear receive communications regarding an admission decision in late July or early August. If an applicant has not heard received any communications about an admission decision by August 15th, they can email to request a status update.

Students interested in the Dental Hygiene program should apply to the college and contact Admissions at 360.752.8345 or at for assistance with getting started at BTC. A college application and your score on assessment testing and/or previous transcripts will determine where you begin your course sequence.

Dental Hygiene Admissions Checklist
Dental Hygiene FAQ

Pre-Application Audit
Applicants are strongly encouraged to request an audit from a Navigator before applying to their intended program. The Navigator will review the applicant’s record to ensure completion of prerequisite requirements. To request an audit, email Include your first and last name, intended program, and last 4 digits of your ctcLink student ID.

Audit requests will be fulfilled on a first come first serve basis. Applicants are encouraged to request their audit as early as possible to ensure a timely response. Wait times will be longer as application deadlines approach, and we recommend that applicants request an audit at least 3 weeks before they plan to apply.

Students will be required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. To be considered fully vaccinated, two weeks must have passed since the date of the second dose or first dose for the one-dose vaccine. The program’s clinical partner agencies will not accept any exemption to full COVID-19 vaccination.

What are the Minimum Entry Requirements?

 ATI Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS)

Applicants must score at the "PROFICIENT" level or higher in each of the four areas on one transcript. See the Test of Essential Academic Skills- ATI TEAS Handout for more information about this entrance assessment.

Students can take the TEAS through the BTC Assessment Center or remotely through ATI.

Registration Directions for TEAS at ATI

Healthcare Experience

Applicants must submit a Healthcare Experience Verification Form for prior approval.

Dental Hygiene Healthcare Experience Verification Form

Early Program Course Requirements

Prior to applying to the program students complete all prerequisite courses at BTC or complete the transcript evaluation process for courses taken at another institution.

The following courses must be completed with a B (3.0) or higher in each course:

  • General Biology W/ Lab (BIOL& 160)
  • Human A & P 1 (BIOL& 241) 
  • Human A & P 2 (BIOL& 242) 
  • Microbiology (BIOL& 260)
  • Introduction to Chemistry (CHEM& 121) OR General Chemistry w/ Lab I (CHEM& 161)
  • Intro to Organic/Bio-Chemistry (CHEM& 131)
  • Interpersonal Communications (CMST& 210) OR Public Speaking (CMST& 220)
  • English Composition I (ENGL& 101)
  • English Composition II (ENGL& 102)
  • Math in Society (MATH& 107) OR higher
  • Nutrition (NUTR& 101)
  • General Psychology (PSYC& 100)
  • Introduction to Sociology (SOC& 101)

Physical Requirements

AFTER admissions acceptance into the program and prior to beginning program classes students must submit proof of all Clinical Placement Requirements.

Notice About Marijuana Usage

Students who test positive for THC (marijuana, including prescription marijuana) will not be allowed entrance to Nursing and Allied Health programs with clinical components. Drug screening is a requirement of our clinical partner agencies. Although private recreational and medical use of marijuana is legal in Washington state, our clinical partner agencies are governed by federal laws, and marijuana is a prohibited substance at the federal level. If your final drug test results are positive, you will be ineligible to participate in the program that year and will be allowed to reapply to the program 12 months from the date of the positive test.

What are My Next Steps?


Total Program Credits: 124

  • Current Students: Learn how to use this page to register for classes

  • Quarter 1

  • DHYG 112Dental Hygiene Clinical Practice I5 CR
  • DHYG 114Principles of Dental Hygiene I3 CR
  • DHYG 115Oral & Dental Anatomy2 CR
  • DHYG 116Oral Radiology I4 CR
  • DHYG 128General Pathology4 CR
  • HLTH 154HealthCare Provider First Aid and CPR1 CR
  • Quarter 2

  • DHYG 122Dental Hygiene Clinical Practice II5 CR
  • DHYG 124Principles of Dental Hygiene II3 CR
  • DHYG 126Oral Radiology II2 CR
  • DHYG 113Dental Materials4 CR
  • DHYG 125Medical Emergencies3 CR
  • DHYG 137Pharmacology3 CR
  • Quarter 3

  • DHYG 131Restorative Dentistry I4 CR
  • DHYG 132Dental Hygiene Clinical Practice III5 CR
  • DHYG 134Principles of Dental Hygiene III3 CR
  • DHYG 138Periodontology3 CR
  • Quarter 4

  • DHYG 141Restorative Dentistry II1 CR
  • DHYG 142Hygiene Clinical Practice IV5 CR
  • DHYG 144Principles of Dental Hygiene IV3 CR
  • DHYG 149Pain Management4 CR
  • Quarter 5

  • DHYG 211Restorative Dentistry III2 CR
  • DHYG 212Dental Hygiene Clinical Practice V8 CR
  • DHYG 214Principles of Dental Hygiene V3 CR
  • DHYG 216Community Oral Health I4 CR
  • DHYG 219Oral Pathology3 CR
  • Quarter 6

  • DHYG 222Dental Hygiene Clinical Practice VI8 CR
  • DHYG 224Principles of Dental Hygiene VI3 CR
  • DHYG 226Community Oral Health II4 CR
  • DHYG 228Oral Therapy3 CR
  • DHYG 229Dental Hygiene Seminar1 CR
  • Quarter 7

  • DHYG 231Restorative Dentistry V1 CR
  • DHYG 232Dental Hygiene Clinical Practice VII8 CR
  • DHYG 234Principles of Dental Hygiene VII3 CR
  • DHYG 236Community Oral Health III2 CR
  • View past class requirements for this program.

Program Outcomes

After successful completion of the Dental Hygiene program, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate positive work ethics, team skills and professional values integral the profession of Dental Hygiene.
  • Utilize wellness, health determinants, & characteristics of various patient populations to promote oral health and reduce health risks in a variety of settings.
  • Apply current dental hygiene techniques, instruments, and materials to provide preventive and therapeutic services in accordance with all safety and health standards.
  • Assess, plan, implement & evaluate community based health promotion and prevention programs and activities to benefit the general population
  • Demonstrate cognitive retention of dental terminology, theory, and science.
  • Identify and access opportunities for professional growth and development.
  • Apply the principles of evidence based research and decision making in the planning and implementation of dental hygiene care.
  • Qualify for all national and regional examinations required to practice as a Registered Dental Hygienist in the State of Washington.
  • Manage medical emergencies and provide appropriate life support measures using professional judgement.

Employment Outlook

Dental hygienists are in high demand and the outlook is that the demand for hygienists is expected to grow. About 87% of BTC Dental Hygiene students are employed within nine months of graduation. The average annual wage in this field is $94,037, with an earning potential of about $102,835 per year.*

Criminal convictions may restrict or prevent student participation with internships and employment in this industry.

Faculty & Support

Alisa began working as a dental assistant in 1989 and continued working as a dental assistant continuously until she started the dental hygiene program at Loma Linda University. She graduated with a BS in dental hygiene in 2002 and worked full time as a dental hygienist until she transitioned to education in 2010. As a full time dental assisting instructor, she taught every aspect of the dental assisting program and in 2014 became the program director of the dental assisting program while still teaching full time. In 2018 Alisa took over as program director for both the dental hygiene and dental assisting programs. She still teaches several courses in the dental hygiene program but spends the majority of her time on program administration including managing our on-campus dental clinic.

  • Degrees and Credentials

    Certificate, Professional Technical Education, Washington State

    Registered Dental Hygienist, Washington State

    BS, Dental Hygiene, Loma Linda University

    MBA, Healthcare Management, Western Governors University

    Certified Dental Assistant, Dental Assisting National Board

    Registered Dental Assistant, Washington State

Catherine Beebe has been an instructor with the Dental Hygiene department since 2009. She has 28 years of experience in the dental field as a Certified Dental Assistant, Dental Receptionist and a Dental Hygienist. She spent 12 years as an Expanded Functions Dental Hygienist before coming to BTC full time. Catherine is a graduate of Bellingham Technical College’s Dental Assisting program and obtained her AAS in Dental Hygiene at Lake Washington Technical College. She holds a liberal arts degree from Western Washington University with a concentration in Audio Recording, and a Masters in Dental Hygiene with an emphasis in education from Idaho State University. Catherine has a special interest in using educational technology to create new and engaging methods of course delivery for her students. Her thesis research “Educational Technology for Millennial Dental Hygiene Students: A Survey of U.S. Dental Hygiene Programs” was published in the June 2014 issue of the Journal of Dental Education.

  • Degrees and Credentials

    Certificate, Dental Reception, Vancouver Community College, BC

    Certificate, Dental Assisting, Bellingham Vocational Technical Institute

    BA, Interdisciplinary Concentration, Western Washington University

    AAS, Dental Hygiene, Lake Washington Technical College

    MS, Health Science, Idaho State University

Photo of Nina Karhinen
Nina Karhinen

Nina Karhinen has 27 years of experience as a clinical dental hygienist both in private practice and community health. She was an adjunct instructor for 11 years in the Dental Hygiene Program at Bellingham Technical College until transitioning into a full-time faculty role in 2021 as second year lead instructor. Nina’s special interests include clinical practice, public health, special populations, and research. She holds a Bachelors in Dental Hygiene with an emphasis in education from Oregon Institute of Technology and a Masters in Dental Hygiene with an emphasis in education from Idaho State University. Her thesis was entitled “Oral Health Life Skills Education for Foster Youth in Transition: An Exploratory Evaluation Study". Her article entitled “Update on Tuberculosis” was published in the Dimensions of Dental Hygiene journal.

  • Degrees and Credentials

    MS, Dental Hygiene, Idaho State University

    Certificate, Professional Technical Education, Washington State

    AS, Dental Hygiene, Palm Beach Community College

    License, Registered Dental Hygiene, States of Washington and Idaho

    BS, Dental Hygiene, Oregon Institute of Technology


If you have questions about this program or want help with the admissions steps to Bellingham Technical College, please email

Current students wanting academic planning and support, can connect with the program Instructor(s) or email