Clinical Experience

University of Pittsburgh Dental Hygiene Program students' clinical training begins in the fall term of the first year in the simulation clinic (technology-enhanced lab), before transitioning to active patient care during the second term of the first year. Students gain valubale clinical experience in the dental hygiene clinic and through rotations within the school and at various health care facilities in the area. The clinical and preclinic student ratio for school-based instruction is one-to-five.

Students also have the unique opportunity to participate in Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) training, along with students and faculty from the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. Students participate in simulated scenarios that enhance their ability to identify patients with substance use disorders, and provide brief interventions and referral for treatment. This training enables students to use evidence-based practices in providing individualized care to patients with alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use disorders in the clinical setting.


Dental hygiene students at the School of Dental Medicine gain valuable clinical experience while rotating through these internal clinical departments:

Center for Patients with Special Needs
Students work as team members with faculty, dental students, dental residents in providing comprehensive dental care in the Center for Patients with Special Needs.  This rotation provides experience treating patients who are sedated, either via conscious sedation or general anesthesia.

Department of Diagnostic Services
Students gain experience in radiology exposing and processing digital radiographs such as bitewings, full mouth series, and panoramic films.  In addition the dental hygiene students have the opportunity to gain familiarity with advanced radiology, such as cone beam tomography.

Department of Pediatric Dentistry
Students work as team members with dental students and pediatric dental residents to provide fluoride treatments and oral hygiene instruction to child and adolescent patients.

Department of Periodontics
Students assist periodontal residents with surgical procedures and perform periodontal scalings. 


Additional clinical experience is obtained by participating in the following external rotations, made possible through partnerships with UPMC, the Veterans Administration and Allegheny County:

Montefiore University Hospital
Students provide dental hygiene services to maxillofacial prosthodontic patients.  This rotation provides the opportunity for dental hygiene students to provide treatment to pre- and post oral cancer and trauma patients. 

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
Students in conjunction with pediatric dental residents provide preventive dental services to patients age 12 months to 21 years.

Veterans Administration Medical Center
Students provide dental hygiene services to veterans in an outpatient hospital setting.

Allegheny County Health Department
Students travel to local elementary schools with the Allegheny County Health Department Dental Team to provide classroom education and assist in the application of fluoride varnish and sealants on patients’ teeth.

Catholic Charities
Students collaborate with dental and medical healthcare professionals to provde dental hygiene services to a diverse patient population.