Here is how long it takes to become a dental hygienist.

Dental hygienists work closely with dentists to deliver the best oral care. This makes them essential medical staff members.

They regularly clean clients’ teeth, evaluate oral treatments, and give further proactive care. Furthermore, these experts look for mouth pain in patients and alert the dentist for proper treatment.

How Long to Become a Dental Hygienist

While pursuing a career in this area, one must finish clinical training, among other essentials. But the question is, How many years does it take to become a dental hygienist?

This is precisely what this article will be addressing.

We’ll tell you the time commitment for this profession and the standards for acquiring a state license. Until then, we’ll first figure out who these experts are.

  • Who Is A Dental Hygienist?

This medical expert performs dental cleanings and examines the mouth for signs of oral problems. They have additional training in anesthesia, root planning, and tooth scaling.

What’s more? An oral hygienist can also examine clients’ medical histories, perform a mouth X-ray, and screen them for pain.

The majority of these experts work in the hospital. However, they can also operate at a school, dentist’s office, or community health center.

How Many Years to Be a Dental Hygienist

As was already said, growing into an authority in this field requires fulfilling precise schooling and licensure standards. How long these prerequisites will take to finish will rely on several key determinants: your choice of discipline and school.

An oral hygienist typically needs at least an associate’s degree to start. The average length of these programs is two years. In the meantime, finishing dentistry school could take three years.

While in school, you’ll learn in the lab, classroom, and clinic.

A bachelor’s degree is an optional academic requirement for oral hygienists. But you can pursue such credentials to take on advanced roles.

Most undergraduate degree programs in oral hygiene take four years to finish. Allow us to have an in-depth knowledge of these academic essentials.

  • Timeline to Get an Associate Degree in Dental Hygiene 

An associate’s degree in this field is meant to serve as your primary education for licensing. Technical schools and community colleges both provide these credentials.

The coursework covers the CODA-specified subjects. You’ll also be required to complete supervised clinical experience during your study period.

The first year of your coursework will focus on clinical services, involving 8–12 hours of hands-on experience per week. Then, the second year will bump instruction hours from 12–16.

Applicants must meet unique conditions to obtain an associate’s degree in oral hygiene.

These include a minimum GPA of 2.5 for preliminary biology, anatomy, sociology, and chemistry courses, which may vary by school.

  • Duration of a Bachelor’s Degree in Oral Hygiene 

You must earn a bachelor’s degree if you want more specialized medical care.

The certificate will also be ideal for oral hygiene license holders who wish to advance their understanding of theory and research or learn leadership skills.

You’ll learn about oral hygiene in the classroom and participate in clinical practice under the supervision of a licensed dentist.

This gives you the technical know-how and soft skills to assist patients with their dental health. However, it might be optional for bachelor’s degree candidates to get practical experience.

This is because you’ll develop this ability while pursuing your associate degree.

A few requirements must be satisfied before becoming eligible for oral hygiene bachelor’s degree studies. You must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 or above.

These courses cover radiography, oral labs, and anatomical structures.

  • Master’s Degree in Oral Hygiene Training Length

This qualification will be ideal for people looking for administrative, education, or research positions. Higher-level positions, such as leaders of oral health and educational programs & specialists in preventing oral diseases, are all possible with this certificate.

However, a university degree in this field or a closely related discipline is necessary for admission.

You’ll also need to possess at least a GPA of 3.0, evidence of present dental hygienist referral letters, a license, and GRE scores. To earn a master’s degree in this field it could cost you roughly two years.

Online Programs for Oral Hygienists

There are online programs available for students looking for flexible learning options.

All courses will be taken online. You have the chance to handle other responsibilities while learning. Moreover, you can acquire on-site clinical experience to prepare for the clinical duties.

However, candidates with clinical experience from their previous studies may be exempt from this rule when learning online. Such candidates are those with an associate degree in oral hygiene.

For more details, you can inquire from your state or fellow candidates.

License Requirements for Dental Hygienists

To practice as an oral hygienist, you must possess a state license.

However, the rules for getting such documents vary by state. However, most demand success on the National Board of Dental Hygiene (NBDHE) professional tests.

The exams test your understanding of fundamental hygienic practices, therapeutic methods, and anesthetics.

Some states demand that legal and drug specialists pass tests covering the laws and norms. You must take the professional tests within two years of graduating or during your first five tries.

What’s more? You’ll be required to gain clinical experience in a certified facility. Depending on where you plan to operate, these steps can take many months after graduation.

Once you clear the test, you’ll be given your Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) license.

Renewing Dental Hygiene License

Having gotten the oral hygienist permit, you must update it every 1–3 years.

But before you do that, specific criteria must be met. These include paying a renewal fee and finishing some hours of continuing education.

Approved hours are between 10 and 20 for every one-year cycle.

Dental hygienists can get through an associate degree within two years. But you must finish at least 30–50 hours per two-year cycle and 60 hours per three-year cycle during or after your studies.

If you desire specialized certificates to enable you to pursue advanced roles, it will take you more than two years to satisfy the academic essentials.

We hope you’ve found this article a helpful resource. You’re free to check back if you need more insights about this occupation.