Smiles all around! New dental hygiene program approved

March 7, 2018

Jackson College is pleased to announce that a new dental hygiene program has received approval from the Commission on Dental Accreditation to launch this fall semester, 2018!

Plans for a new dental hygiene program began after concerns were raised about a shortage of registered dental hygienists to fill present and future job openings in the tri-county area. Dental hygiene is a growing field with great career opportunities. Also, local students pursuing the dental program through the Career Centers now have the opportunity to stay in our community to pursue their associate degree in dental hygiene.

“I am excited about the launching of Jackson College’s first dental hygiene program which is designed to better serve our community and our students,” said Dr. Daniel J. Phelan, Jackson College president. “Special thanks go to our Board of Trustees and Dr. Ed Mathein in particular, as well as Program Director Pat Guenther, for making this program and its accreditation possible. We are also excited about our ability to equip the lab with funding from The Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program (CCSTEP). We are thrilled to welcome students to yet another career program at Jackson College.”

Dental hygienists clean teeth, examine patients for signs of oral diseases such as gingivitis and provide other preventive dental care. Employment is expected to grow 10.7 percent nationally, so this in-demand career promises a bright future. Ongoing research linking oral health to general health spurs demand for preventive dental services, which dental hygienists provide. They also educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health.

“Our students will be graduating with an Associate in Applied Science degree in dental hygiene, which permits them to sit for all board exams necessary to get their dental hygiene license in Michigan or any state,” said Guenther. “I’ve had many students come to see me about enrolling in the program; there’s a lot of interest.”

Jackson College has been developing the program and curriculum for about a year now, and in October 2017 submitted a self-study for consideration of accreditation. The Commission sent site visitors to the College to assess the program’s compliance with the accreditation standards. The associate degree program will be a second-admit program, similar to nursing and other health careers, where students begin with prerequisites and then apply for admission to the dental hygiene program. Enrollment is limited to 10 students.

“For the College and community, we will have a dental hygiene clinic offering preventive services will be open to the public, with students as the clinicians. That will start in 2019,” Guenther said, referring to the lab in Justin Whiting Hall. “We’re looking forward to partnering with the dental community, especially the Center for Family Health, and getting out there in the community. This will be a great addition to the College.”

To learn more about the program, visit, or contact Guenther, 517.990.1463 or