Dental hygienists take care of patients by preparing them for evaluation by a dentist, cleaning their teeth, and providing educational information on dental hygiene. In the United States, dental hygienists in some states are allowed to treat patients with administering anesthetics for minor procedures and surgeries.
Obtaining state Licensure
In most states, it is required that candidates must graduate from hundreds of available dental hygienist programs offered to various schools in the state. The schools must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association (ADA). This is the first step by dental teaching institutions to obtaining state licensure.
How can students find approved dental hygienist programs?
First of all let us look at the details for dental hygienist requirements for licensing
In order to practice legally as dental hygienist, you need to complete the following steps:
- Graduate in any of the dental hygienist programs offered and approved by the ADA
- Pass state licensing examination, which measures both your knowledge of dental practice and skills
- You should also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination
Those who have already obtained a valid state license and want to transfer their licensure to another state should contact the licensing commission or the state dental board in the state they are interested to practice.
Dental hygienist programs
There are various educational providers that offer approved dental hygienist programs. The most basic dental hygienist programs are provided by community colleges, stand-alone dental schools and technical schools. Such educational institutions normally offer two year associate degree programs while others offer certificate programs that take less time to complete.
There are advanced dental hygienist programs offered by four year colleges and universities, which offer master’s and bachelor’s dental degrees. Many programs in this category require students who have completed a two year program from an accredited institution.
Any of the dental hygienist programs provided by the Commission on Dental Accreditation makes students ready for both the national and state licensing examinations. When a student graduates with an advanced degree, he/she gets the qualification to both conduct research and teach.
Dental hygienist school courses
The requirements to become a dental hygienist vary depending on the type of accreditation program you select to attend. In all dental hygienist programs, you will be offered the following:
- Clinical training that is supervised by a licensed dentist
- Instructions in both dentistry and general studies.
A classroom-based approved program focuses on teaching a number of important general education and clinical subject areas, which include anatomy, sociology, pharmacology, chemistry, immunology, English, psychology, dental hygiene, dental practice, microbiology, radiology among others.
In this program students are given freedom to work directly with patients while being supervised by a licensed dentist. Such training prepares students for clinical part of state licensing examination. All dental hygienist programs fulfill one of the principal requirements from ADA-approved schools.
How many dental hygienist programs are there?
There are more than 270 ADA-approved programs found across the country. Most of these programs are provided by community colleges.