• Dental

    Train to become a valuable member of a dental team with M State’s programs in Dental Hygiene and Dental Assisting.


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Assisting Assessment
Assisting Program Information
We are no longer accepting applications for Fall 2019
Hygiene Assessment
Hygiene Program Information


M State Dental Hygiene and Dental Assisting

M State's Dental Hygiene and Dental Assisting programs both have selective admission and are offered on our Moorhead campus.

M State's Community Dental Clinic, located on the Moorhead campus, provides dental care for nearly 800 patients a year while offering invaluable clinic experiences for students in M State's dental programs.

The Minnesota Board of Dentistry requires state and federal criminal background checks prior to licensure for both dental assistants and hygienists.

Dental Assisting
AAS degree, 63 credits
Diploma, 48 credits

Both of M State's Dental Assisting programs educate students to assist with general clinical assisting and support functions, intra-oral clinical procedures, business office procedures and laboratory tasks.

The curriculum includes general studies courses; biomedical and dental science courses; clinical practice; and intra-oral clinical functions. Some courses are common to both the Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene majors.

Graduates are eligible to write the Dental Assisting National Board Certification exam and the Minnesota State Board of Dentistry Registration Exam. Our program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association.

How to File a Complaint to the Commission on Dental Accreditation


Dental Hygiene
AAS degree, 88 credits

M State's Dental Hygiene program provides students with the education required to perform dental services that detect, prevent and treat diseases of the mouth. As a graduate, you'll have the skills to provide current and comprehensive dental hygiene services.

The Dental Hygiene curriculum includes biomedical and dental science courses that are common to both Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene majors.

Our program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association.

How to File a Complaint to the Commission on Dental Accreditation



Here’s what you’ll learn

In addition to specialized education in each program area, you will learn:

  • Effective communication with patients and dental health team providers
  • Professional dental conduct and ethical behavior
  • Current technology relevant to the dental profession
  • Standards for infection control and occupational safety


Dental students help Give Kids a Smile

M State Dental students helped put smiles on the faces of nearly four dozen children during the recent Give Kids a Smile event on the college's Moorhead campus.

Give Kids a Smile is an annual statewide outreach effort by dental professionals who volunteer to provide free dental hygiene preventive care to children ages 1-18. This is the fifth year M State has hosted the event at its Dental Hygiene Clinic.

M State volunteers included 37 Dental Hygiene students and 29 Dental Assisting students.

"This is a special way to reach children in need of dental care. Left untreated, tooth decay can have devastating effects on young children, affecting their overall health and even their success in school. We are so happy to be able to help," said Kris Pladson, director of M State's Dental program.

The M State student volunteers, joined by eight hygienists and a dentist, conducted oral screenings for all the children during the Feb. 6 event. As needed, the children also received cleanings, x-rays, fluoride treatments and sealants.

In sponsoring Give Kids a Smile, the Minnesota Dental Association demonstrates its members' commitment to providing all children with dental care and helping eliminate barriers to care throughout Minnesota.

Minnesota dentists have provided free care to more than 70,000 children and donated services valued at more than $19.5 million over the past 16 years through the project.

Posted Feb. 13, 2019


Why M State

  • M State is an exceptional educational value
  • Small class sizes mean students receive a personalized education
  • Both programs are accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association
  • Graduates have exceptional pass rates on national certification exams
  • Community Dental Clinic offers invaluable professional training in an on-campus location
  • High placement rates for graduates of the Dental programs


Dental students go on a Mission of Mercy

Oct. 2, 2018

Forty-five students in M State's dental programs put their skills to work as they joined nearly 500 other dental professionals for a rewarding Mission of Mercy dental clinic in Bismarck, N.D.

The Bismarck Event Center was transformed into a 50-chair portable dental clinic for the Sept. 28-29 event, which served 800 dental patients over two days by providing free dental care including cleanings, fillings, extractions and some root canals.

M State Dental Assisting students assisted dentists and oral surgeons in the oral surgery center, and Dental Hygiene students took radiographs and gave some injections. They were accompanied by M State Dental instructors Crystal Shumake, Kris Pladson, Michelle Samuelson, Sarah Desjarlais and Sydney Stoa.

Here are some of the comments that M State dental students shared on their facebook pages:

"Anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing. This was such an amazing opportunity. I'm going to love my future job."

"I had the best experience at ND Mission of Mercy this year! It was unbelievable to see the community get together to pull off this event! Nothing beat seeing the happy and grateful expressions from the patients! I am definitely in the right profession.

"I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to volunteer at this truly incredible event. It was a humbling experience, and I feel blessed to have been able to give back to those who are otherwise unable to receive the dental treatment and care they desperately need!"

Mission of Mercy is a nonprofit organization that provides free dental care to patients who are uninsured, underinsured or "fall through the cracks" of the health care system.

Program Video


Programs & Majors » Dental Back to program list »

Degrees Offered Click on a degree below to view details

Dental Hygiene Associate of Applied Science (AAS)
Locations: Moorhead

Dental Assisting Diploma
Locations: Moorhead

Dental Assisting Associate of Applied Science (AAS)
Locations: Moorhead

Click a degree on the left to get started


Meet the faculty

Todd DeBates

Dental Faculty
Contact Todd

Sarah Desjarlais

Dental Faculty
Contact Sarah

Deb Frider

Dental Faculty
Contact Deb

LeRoy Hagen

Dental Faculty
Contact LeRoy

Nancy Hanson

Dental Faculty
Contact Nancy

Mike Joyce

Dental Faculty
Contact Mike

Robin Peltier

Dental Faculty
Contact Robin

Kris Pladson

Dental Program Director
Contact Kris

Michelle Samuelson

Dental Faculty
Contact Michelle

Crystal Shumake

Dental Faculty
Contact Crystal

Sydney Stoa

Dental Faculty
Contact Sydney


Background check required

State law requires that students having direct contact with individuals in licensed institutions complete an annual background study with the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Students who do not pass the background check will not be allowed to participate in clinical activities and thus are not eligible for graduation. Students in some programs also are required to complete a national and/or federal criminal background study.

Students may also be required to complete a national background and/or federal background check as directed by clinical facilities. Students will be provided with instructions prior to clinical. The cost of the national background check is $65 is incurred by the student at the time the background study is submitted.


M State's Dental Assisting program awarded national accreditation

M State Dental Assisting imageThe Dental Assisting program at Minnesota State Community and Technical College has been awarded renewed accreditation by the national Commission on Dental Accreditation.

M State’s program, offered on the college’s Moorhead campus, received full accreditation with no reporting requirements until 2022, a classification indicating that an educational program achieves or exceeds the requirements for accreditation.

CODA is the sole agency that reviews dental and dental-related programs for accreditation, which is an assurance of a quality program.

M State offers both an Associate of Science degree and diploma in Dental Assisting. In addition to academic coursework, students in the program receive invaluable clinic experience through the on-campus Community Dental Clinic, which provides dental care to nearly 800 patients a year.


Dental Hygiene students excel on national boards

April 17, 2017

All 20 second-year Dental Hygiene students passed the written National Board Dental Hygiene Exam on their first attempt during spring 2017, according to Dental Program Director Kris Pladson.

Dental hygiene students must pass the exam in order to obtain dental hygiene licensure in any of the 50 states.

Pladson said the national pass rate is approximately 94 percent on the first attempt, but M State's first-time pass rate has been 100 percent during the past 10 years.

The Dental Hygiene program is offered on M State's Moorhead campus.


M State Dental Hygiene students participating in innovative dual admissions program

Dec. 30, 2016

Students in M State's Dental Hygiene AAS degree program are among the first in the state to pioneer a new opportunity in continuing dental education for allied dental health careers.

Seven first-year Dental Hygiene students are dually admitted and enrolled in M State's AAS program and Metropolitan State University's (St. Paul) Bachelor of Science in Dental Health program. The students have the opportunity to simultaneously receive an associate and bachelor's degree on M State's campus.

The opportunity was inspired by Colleen Brickle, a long-time Minnesota dental hygiene educator and promoter of dental care for the underserved in Minnesota. She developed and marketed the dual admission and enrollment concept, providing a career ladder for dental hygiene students.

M State Dental Hygiene educators are eager to encourage entry-level dental hygiene students to continue their dental education, creating new employment opportunities as oral health care professionals. Many of these jobs may be in nontraditional work settings such as education, sales, school-based programs, health care-related project management, marketing, research or local, state or federal health programs. This BS degree also provides the prerequisite for the Advanced Dental Therapist program.

The current dually admitted and enrolled students are managing the extra one or two courses per semester with ease and earning high grades in both programs. This career pathway allows for a shorter graduation time for earning a higher degree, classes enhance one another and all BS courses are online, so there is no extra travel required. The gift of collaboration among the faculty and students of both programs is an added benefit.

Last modified: February 13th, 2019 at 01:00pm