How To Become A Dental Hygienist – Degree, Schooling & Skills Required

This article will be discussing how to become a dental hygienist.

In addition, we’ll highlight the time commitment for this occupation, job possibilities, average annual earnings, and more.

What do you need to become a dental hygienist? Find more below.

Requirements To Become A Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH)

Dental hygienists play pivotal roles in a clinical setting. They often work directly with dentists to help care for and maintain patients’ oral health.

Because oral hygienists have a calming presence and steady hand, they can help put patients at ease and minimize pain. They can also make the experience of oral procedures more positive.

Are you intrigued about joining this profession? Then, you’ll know the proper steps to becoming an expert.

Who is a Dental Hygienist?

As stated earlier, these are clinical practitioners who, alongside dentists, optimize clients’ oral health.

They perform routine care, screen for tooth disease, and discuss preventive measures. They can also take radiographs, apply sealant and fluoride to protect the teeth and examine problems with gums.

Furthermore, oral hygienists administer anesthesia, clean, sterilize, and organize dental equipment, develop and sustain oral hygiene programs, and more.

Places where you can find these workers include the hospital, the office of the dentist, outpatient oral clinics, and other tooth care facilities.

Dental Hygienist Education and Training

The procedures to grow into an expert in the field are brief but will require tremendous commitment.

You’ll be required to satisfy certain educational essentials and get certified. Below are the steps you can take to enter the industry.

How do you become a dental hygienist? What classes do you need for dental hygiene training?

Here is all you should know.

  • Acquire a High School Diploma or GED

Do you need a degree to be a dental hygienist? Yes.

A secondary school education is essential to start a career in dental hygiene. You’ll take courses in chemistry, biology, and math. These classes are prerequisites for oral hygiene degree programs.

They’ll provide you with foundational knowledge in the field. Graduates with high school diplomas often find it easy to secure entry into the associate program or undergrad studies.

  • Complete an Advanced Degree in Dental Hygiene

There are two postsecondary education you can finish to grow into an expert in this field.

They are associate or bachelor’s degrees. Most states require students to complete either dental hygienist degree programs for certification or licensure.

An associate degree will provide you with the education necessary for entry-level jobs. Such credentials are obtained at a community college or technical school.

It takes an average of two years or less to finish such studies. You’ll complete supervised clinical experience in a dental facility along with coursework.

Meanwhile, an undergrad degree is designed for students interested in more specialized care. We refer to practicing or developing programs within public health or school settings.

You’ll offer classes in oral health and participate in supervised clinical practice. Finishing a bachelor’s degree in this field takes around four years.

The syllabus for undergrad studies includes courses on dental health theory and research on oral conditions. Other classes include physiology, anatomy, nutrition, clinical ethics, pathology, and radiography.

Specialization areas include geriatric or special needs oral, adult, and pediatric care.

  • Dental Hygienist Requirements for Licensing

Unlike other clinical professions, oral hygienists must be licensed to work unrestricted.

Each state has its unique licensure requirements. So, endeavor to contact your state’s Board of Dental Examiners to know their specific conditions.

That said, most states will require the completion of a diploma or associate degree from a certified institution. You must also write and pass the state-level or regional clinical examination.

We refer to NBDH exams and the professional test administered by JCNDE.

Once you’ve satisfied all these conditions, you’ll be a fully licensed and registered oral hygienist. In that case, you can seek employment, depending on your qualifications.

For those with associate degrees, consider entry-level positions. Then, graduates and postgraduate students can strive for advanced roles in the industry.

  • Additional Dental Hygienist Training

There may need to be more than one associate degree holder to succeed in the field. Consider obtaining additional training following your license approval.

For those passionate about research, teaching, or working in admin roles, acquiring a master’s degree will be appropriate. Such studies can be wrapped up within two years when taken full-time.

Dental Hygienist Certification

  • About NBDH Exams

This test consists of 350 multiple-choice questions and is broken into two parts. The first part is discipline-based, while the second part has case-based components.

You’re expected to score a minimum of 75 to pass the exams. Meanwhile, you must know that each state has its unique clinical exam.

They’ll test your knowledge of basic hygiene procedures, therapeutic techniques, and anesthesia. Moreover, you may take a drug and law exam covering the rules and regulations specific to your state.

License Renewal

All states require dental hygienists to maintain their licenses after 1-3 years. Doing so will keep them updated about new information regarding oral health care.

Before renewing your permit, certain conditions must be met. These include paying a renewal fee and providing proof of completion of the required continuing education hours.

While these hours vary from one state to another, most will demand somewhere between 10 and 20 hours for every one-year cycle. For 2-cycles, you’ll need to finish around 30–50 hours, and so it goes.

The cost of recertification is between $50 and $100 per year.

Being a Dental Hygienist | Perks

You’ll benefit greatly from growing into an expert in this field. Dental hygienists have a comfortable salary and sufficient work possibilities.

Based on the reports from BLS, the job outlook for this profession is bright. Moreover, you’ll have opportunities to interact with patients and get satisfaction from helping people.

Furthermore, this profession also provides flexibility, as many oral hygienists can work part-time. This means you’ll have time to face other commitments while serving in the field.

The Salary of Dental Hygienist

It would be best to learn about the earnings of experts in this field.

This will help you know whether or not the career is worthwhile. Based on the statistics from BLS, oral hygienists earn around $81,400 per year. The 10th percentile is around $61,510.

However, the amount is subject to change based on certain factors, including your level of education, years of experience, geographical location, and employment settings.

The field of oral hygiene is increasing and offers individuals exciting and rewarding possibilities to join the clinical industry.

You can see the appropriate steps if you’re interested in this profession. Before making any significant step, learn more about the school you desire to apply to. Plus, the program you wish to enroll in.