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General Guidelines

The USD Department of Dental Hygiene is a teaching facility that offers a comprehensive scope of dental hygiene services to interested individuals. Services are performed by students as part of their professional education. Students work under the direction of licensed dental hygienists or dentists who are university faculty.

The department will not deny access to dental hygiene services to any individual based on race, color, creed, religion, national origin ancestry, citizenship, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, socioeconomic status or presence of any bloodborne infectious disease. We strive to provide high-quality care based on state-of-the-art practices to each patient in a respectful, professional, compassionate manner. It shall be the department's policy to follow all professionally established protocols for infection control, confidentiality, patient care, record-keeping and risk management.

Our goal is to maintain department facilities such that they are clean and safe. We intend for a friendly, professional atmosphere in which patients and providers can establish a trusting relationship.

Patient services will be provided primarily during the academic year with limited appointment times during the summer. Patients can call into the department to make appointments and/or may be called by our staff or students. Patients will be reminded of their appointments the day before they are scheduled.

Patients will be informed of their rights and responsibilities and given opportunities to share any concerns with the department chairperson. A copy of these rights and responsibilities is distributed in the mailing with the patient satisfaction survey. It is also posted in the department and patients are given opportunity to read the statement during each appointment.

Informed consent will be obtained from each patient prior to beginning any treatment. Patient treatment will be based on every individual's specific needs.

All student performance will be evaluated by a faculty member. Each clinical rotation is supervised by a department faculty member and any internship is supervised by a dentist acting as an agent of the department and university. Faculty are responsible for final evaluation of procedures and final record documentation.

A medicolegal document will be generated for each patient either in paper and/or electronically. Documentation of each patient visit will be recorded in the patient's chart. No patient record will be allowed to leave the department. Patient records are secured in the department in a locked environment and/or a secured computer and server.

Patient Appointment Process of Care


Prior to treatment, patients at the University of South Dakota Department of Dental Hygiene read and sign a document stating their consent for treatment by students under the supervision of faculty and direction of the dentist supervisor.


Health History: Prior to treatment, students obtain the patients' health history to determine necessary modifications for treatment.

Vital Signs: Blood pressure, pulse and respirations are obtained periodically as a health service to patients. Treatment may then begin according to department policies.

Oral Inspection, Dental Charting and Periodontal Charting: Students perform an intra- and extra-oral inspection on patients at each visit. Dental charting and periodontal charting are also performed, and patients are alerted to any lesions and/or suspicious areas. They are referred for treatment as deemed necessary according to department policies.

Radiographs: Radiographs are taken on patients as necessary, according to department policies.

Planning /Treatment Needs

Diagnosis: A dental hygiene diagnosis is made according to a compilation of assessment information. Debris indices, patient risks and the above-mentioned information are used to classify a patient by Periodontal Difficulty Classification and ASA Classification.

Treatment Plan: Students complete a comprehensive dental hygiene care plan for patients using the above information. Patients sign the treatment plan after it has been completed and explained to them. Besides dental hygiene prophylaxis, other services are recommended according to need, such as:

  • Fluoride treatment
  • Hard tissue desensitizing
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Prosthesis/restoration care
  • Radiographs
  • Pain management
  • Bleaching
  • TMJ assessment
  • Mouth guard fabrication
  • Sealants
  • Root planing

Consequences of No Treatment: Patients are given the right to refuse treatment and the consequences of such are discussed.

Patient Rights and Care Policy: Patients review this policy during the appointment at the completion of the treatment plan.


Oral Health Education: Students discuss with the instructor their recommendations for patient education based on the above information. Upon agreement with the faculty member, students verbally and visually explain to patients how to address their individual oral health needs.

Treatment Schedule: Recall schedules are recommended based on oral health status. Consistency of care is provided whenever possible. If a patient cannot be completed in one appointment, they are re-scheduled at their earliest convenience with the student who began the treatment. Upon recall, patients are intentionally scheduled with the same students when possible.


Referral: Upon completion of treatment, students evaluate the need for referrals. The department provides patients with a list of dentists and specialists in the region. Patients are always reminded at this time to see their dentist regularly as their visit to our clinic does not constitute a complete dental exam. They are given a referral slip if any specific areas of concern are found that need to be addressed within a time-frame sooner than their next regularly-scheduled dental exam. Copies of radiographs may be taken out of the department by patients who are scheduled to be seen by a dentist in the near future, or the department may send them to the dentist of their choice as requested.

Re-evaluation: Students are aware of all situations in which it is necessary to re-evaluate tissue. They communicate this to patients when a re-evaluation is recommended.

Continuing Care: A continuing care schedule is established according to the treatment needs and oral health status of each patient.

Patient Satisfaction: The patient's satisfaction with their previous appointment is documented on all consecutive appointments. In addition, patients of record receive a survey through the mail annually. This gives them the opportunity to make comments and express concerns. A patient may be scheduled with a different student at consecutive appointments if they have been dissatisfied with prior treatment.

Billing: Upon completion of treatment, students escort patients to the office with a completed charge slip. Patients are expected to pay at their first visit and are given a receipt for services.

Documentation: A standard protocol has been established for completing patient records. Faculty on the clinical science committee periodically audit charts. Non-permanent documentation is disposed of properly, and patient charts are handled with much care to maintain confidentiality.