Clinical Experience

The dental hygiene students’ clinical training begins in fall term of the first year in the simulation clinic before transitioning to active patient care during the second term of the first year.  The University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine Dental Hygiene Program introduces students to the practice of dental hygiene in a simulated learning environment. The Simulation Clinic, located on the fourth floor of Salk Hall, provides individual student workstations and is fully equipped with video display instruction, dental units, operatory lights, computers, and simulated patients. This modern facility provides an ideal interactive environment for instructors and students. The dental hygiene clinic, located on B level of Salk Hall Annex, has 23 functional chairs and two radiology rooms with a faculty student ratio of one to five.

Dental hygiene students at Pitt Dental Medicine will 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.

Radiology Department

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. 

Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD)

Students assist general dentistry residents with restorative procedures and perform oral hygiene services.

Multidisciplinary Implant Center

This rotation provides the opportunity for dental hygiene students to observe implant placement and restorative procedures in the school's Multidisciplinary Implant Center. This excellent learning opportunity will enhance the student's ability to  provide oral hygiene care  to patients with implants. 


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 oral 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 oral 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.