What kind of licenses are required to become a Dental Hygienist?

Upon completion of your online associate degree in dental hygiene, most students are eager to take the important final test to begin their “real-world” career as a dental hygienist. Fortunately, for consumers and patients, the healthcare industry is carefully regulated in accordance with the organization in which the profession is affiliated with, and often, they are usually regulated by each state’s requirements, as well.

These examinations and regulations were established to protect the patient so to ensure the safety of the patient. These requirements also allow consumers to be comfortable with their healthcare professional and develop trust and confidence between patient and doctor…or dentist, in this case. When you become a licensed dental hygienist, you are showing the patient that you have put in the time, effort and hard work to be the best in your profession, therefore, creating faith in you to take care of all their oral healthcare needs.

To obtain your license in dental hygiene, you must be a graduate of an accredited dental hygiene program. In most cases, this involves earning your online associate degree in dental hygiene, however, bachelor’s and master’s degrees are also available, therefore earning you more career options, for those that would like to do dental research or begin a teaching career.

There are two examinations to complete. Upon graduation, the student will be required to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination. This is a written exam, given by computer, that is administered by the American Dental Association. In addition, each state has their own regulations, testing and continued education requirements that are in place to protect the public from anyone who is not properly qualified to practice dental hygiene.

The NBDHE typically involves 350 multiple choice questions; divided into two groups. 200 questions relate to Scientific Basis for Dental Hygiene Practice, Provision of Clinical Dental Hygiene Services and questions related to Community Health/Research Principles. The other 150 questions are related to dental hygiene patient cases in which there are 12-15 case studies featuring photographs, radiographs, in addition to, chart and patient history. A score of 75 or higher is “passing” and you may expect to receive your results approximately three to four weeks after the exam. The NBDHE fee is $415. The exam is given over a nine-hour span including an optional one hour scheduled break. Two original and current forms of identification are required on day of the exam. If you fail the test, you must wait 90 days before retaking, however, if you fail three times, you must wait twelve months before authorization to try again.

Please be aware, that upon graduation and completion of the board exam, you will be subject to a background check. Each state has the authority to deny licensure to anyone convicted of a felony or a serious misdemeanor, however, each incident will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The state typically also has the authority to revoke a license in the event misconduct occurs.

To recap, a student will only be granted their license to practice dental hygiene upon four accomplishments: graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program, a passing grade from the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, as well as, the completion of your state or regional’s clinical board examination and by passing the background check. You will want to research the state in which you wish to practice in to verify state requirements. Good luck!

If you are interested in more information, please feel free to research our Top Online School Programs to consider while learning more about a Dental Hygienist career.