The ADHA estimates that dental hygienist students will complete an average of 659 hours of supervised clinical instruction prior to receiving their degrees or certifications.
This practical work helps students flesh out their theoretical knowledge with hands-on experience in patient care.
Students should verify that their program is accredited by the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) prior to enrolling.
Program lengths may vary, but dental hygienist school typically takes two years to complete.
Dental hygienists provide preventive therapy to promote oral health, examine patients for signs of disease, and teach them to manage their own oral hygiene.
In addition to completing a dental hygiene program at an ADA-accredited school, aspiring dental hygienists must pass state exams on how to provide dental hygiene and education to patients, and (in most states) must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well.Upon receiving their license, hygienists become Registered Dental Hygienists (RDH’s) and qualify to enter this high-growth occupation.In order to become a dental hygienist, students must complete an accredited program through a community college, technical school, dental school, or university.After completing a dental hygienist program at an accredited school, students may be eligible for licensure.Initially, students are required to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE), a test comprising 350 multiple choice questions gauging both concrete knowledge, theoretical knowledge and students’ ability to tackle case studies.These accredited “degree completion” programs, such as one at University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, offer all classes online including dental hygiene practice management, advanced clinical concepts, and statistical reasoning.A majority of entry-level dental hygienist programs, however, require a classroom or clinical component due to the hands-on nature of the profession.This flexibility allows students to tailor coursework to their interests.Additionally, this instruction may enhance an individual's candidacy for jobs which specialize in various dental procedures.Students in these programs are generally practicing dental hygiene and looking to advance their qualifications.In order to become a dental hygienist, students must complete a program at an accredited dental hygienist school.