How to Become a Dental Hygienist in 4 Simple Steps

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What is a Dental Hygienist?

Before we start talking about how to become a dental hygienist we have to inform you that dental hygienists do not just clean patients’ teeth but perform a lot of other tasks.

They apply preventative oral care and look for signs of oral diseases, they also inform patients on how to keep their teeth healthy and preserve good smiles.

The daily duties of a dental hygienist are:

  • Taking (x-rays) dental radiographs
  • Reviewing medical and oral history of the patients
  • Removing plaque and calculus
  • Educating patients on oral health so they can maintain oral health
  • Applying fluorides and sealants to the teeth
  • Performing office management activities
  • Talking to patients about the impact of good nutrition to their oral health

Excellent communication skills are required for dental hygienists. They are working with patients every day so they need to be able to educate them about oral health in an efficient manner. They also need to make them feel comfortable before starting the cleansing process.

Dental hygienists need to pay great attention to detail, in order to do an in depth cleansing and detect problems to the teeth of the patient. Oral cavity is a really small space and if they don’t pay enough attention it is really easy to miss spots.

Finally, dental hygienists need to have physical stamina. The majority of the tasks they perform daily are physical, like bending over a patient to perform a cleansing or taking x-rays, so if they need to have physical stamina to be able to perform their job duties effectively.

According to Bls.gov more than 50% of dental hygienists work part time. They mostly work at dentist’s offices. offices. Their schedule varies as they work on appointments and they can be working at evenings when their patients have the time to schedule an appointment.

The average salary of a dental hygienists is $71,520
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What is a Dental Hygienist

Becoming a Dental Hygienist

Step 1: High School Preparation

High School Courses for Dental Hygienists

Biology Courses

Aspiring dental hygienists should take basic biology that covers topics like: microbiology, physiology, anatomy and cellular structure. Having a basic knowledge of these topics will help them with their coursework when in college. Those who want to take it a step further can take advanced placement biology that can also count as a college credit.

Chemistry Courses

Chemistry is a prerequisite for many dental hygienist programs. By taking chemistry classes students will learn stuff like: the periodic table, how to write a chemical formula, atomic structures, and how to balance chemical equations. All that knowledge will help them get prepared for college. Some schools offer advanced placement chemistry courses that can also count as a college credit.

Communication Courses

At all patient care professions communication is a basic skill a professional should possess. It makes sense to start cultivating these skills from high school. Courses like debate, rhetoric and speech will help you with this for sure.

Step 2: Get an Undergraduate Degree in Dental Hygiene

Dental Hygiene Certificate Program 1 year – 2 years

Unlike other certificate programs dental hygiene certificate program duration is longer between 1 and 2 years also 36- 50 semester credit hours are required to complete these programs.

Also the admission requirements are a bit stricter as you will need a high school diploma, some prerequisite courses (mostly science courses) and in some cases to pass an interview.

Curriculum

  • Fundamentals of Dental Hygiene
  • Fundamentals of Dental Hygiene Theory and Practice
  • Clinical Dental Hygiene Theory and Practice
  • Pathology
  • Introduction to Oral Health Research
  • Pharmacology
  • Dental Health Education and Communication
  • Current Issues in Dental Hygiene
  • Periodontics
  • Periodontics
  • Dental Materials
  • Dental Morphology and Occlusion
  • Community Dental Health
  • Community Dental Health Lab
  • Independent Study
  • Clinical Practice in Alternative Settings
  • Medical Evaluation of Dental Hygiene Patients
  • Oral Radiology
  • Directed Studies in Clinical Dental Hygiene

The cost of a dental hygiene certificate program is between $5,500 and $10,800.

When deciding which college or university to attend, we strongly recommend contacting them for further information and details.

Click the button below to get free info about accredited dental hygiene degree programs near you.
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Dental Hygiene Associate’s Degree Program 2 years

Dental hygiene Associate’s degree programs are 70 to 90 semester credit hours programs that can be completed mostly on campus.

In order to get accepted to a program like that you will need a high school diploma or a GED, some prerequisite courses and pass an interview.

Curriculum

General Education Requirements (24 credits)

  • Composition I
  • Composition II
  • Word Processing
  • Introduction to Database Applications
  • Technology and Society
  • College Mathematics I: Reasoning and Application
  • Oral Communication
  • Workplace Communication

Core Courses (50 credits)

  • Dental Hygiene I
  • Principles of Dental Hygiene
  • Dental Histology and Embryology
  • Oral Anatomy
  • Head and Neck Anatomy I
  • Head and Neck Anatomy II
  • Clinical Dental Hygiene II
  • Oral Pathology
  • Dental Radiography
  • Clinical Dental Hygiene III
  • Periodontics I
  • Dental Materials
  • Dental Health Education
  • Clinical Dental Hygiene IV
  • Dental Pain and Anxiety Control
  • Clinical Dental Hygiene V
  • Periodontics II
  • Pharmacology for the Dental Hygienist
  • Clinical Dental Hygiene VI
  • Community Dentistry
  • Radiographic Interpretation
  • Clinical Dental Hygiene VII
  • Dental Law and Ethics
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology I
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology II
  • Concepts in Microbiology
  • Chemistry I

Elective Courses (8 credits)

  • Human Relations
  • General Psychology

The cost of a dental hygienist associate’s degree program is between $15,700 and $54,920.

When deciding which college or university to attend, we strongly recommend contacting them for further information and details.

Click the button below to get free info about accredited Associate’s Degree programs near you.
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Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene Degree Program 4 years

Bachelor of Science in dental hygiene degree programs are 90 to 120 semester credit hours that can be completed mostly on campus.

The admission requirements are a high school diploma with a GPA over 2,8 and completed prerequisite courses with a GPA over 2,5 these courses are usually: Chemistry (with laboratory) , Anatomy, Biology (with laboratory), Microbiology, Composition, Sociology, Psychology, Physiology, Speech, Statistics and pass an entrance test.

Curriculum

General Education Requirements (45 Credits)

  • Elementary Microbiology
  • Capstone Seminar
  • Social Science I
  • Social Science II
  • Fine Arts
  • Composition & Rhetoric
  • Humanities I
  • Humanities II
  • Intermediate Algebra
  • Principles of Sociology
  • First Year Seminar
  • Introduction to Counseling
  • Principles of Marketing

Core Courses (68 Credits)

  • Oral Anatomy and Embryology
  • Radiology
  • Pharmacology for the Dental Hygienist
  • Introduction to Periodontology
  • Clinical Practice I
  • Clinical Practice II
  • Clinical Practice III
  • Local Anesthesia
  • Clinical Practice IV
  • General and Oral Histo-Pathology
  • Dental Public Health
  • Periodontology
  • Dental Hygiene Practice Management
  • Dental Materials
  • Instructional Strategies for the Health Professional
  • Dental Hygiene Internship
  • Advanced Clinical Concepts
  • Dental Hygiene Research I
  • Dental Hygiene Research II
  • Nutritional Biochemistry
  • Statistical Reasoning

Elective Courses (6 credits)

  • Contemporary Issues in Health Care
  • Health Information Systems
  • Health Care Risk Management
  • Concepts of Health Promotion & Disease Prevention
  • Legal Aspects of Health Care
  • Issues in Mental Health
  • Vulnerable Populations: Health and Health Care Issues
  • Sales, Negotiating and Customer Relationship Management
  • Grant Administration & Resource Development
  • Substance Abuse and the Family
  • Social Problems and Policy

The cost of a Bachelor of Science in dental hygiene degree program is between $29,950 and $80,050.

When deciding which college or university to attend, we strongly recommend contacting them for further information and details.

Click the button below to get free info about accredited Bachelor’s Degree programs near you.
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Step 3: Get a graduate degree in dental hygiene (Optional)

Master’s Degree in Dental Hygiene Program 2 years

Master’s Degree in Dental Hygiene programs are 30 to 49 semester credit hours programs that can be completed on campus.

In order to get accepted you will need: Graduation from an accredited by the American Dental Association Commission dental hygienist program with a GPA of at least 3, 0, a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of at least 3,0, 2 letters of recommendation and a Personal statement

Curriculum

  • Foundations of Dental Hygiene, Education, and Health Care
  • Research Principles and Application
  • Systematic Research Writing
  • Dental Hygiene Theory and Science I
  • Dental Hygiene Seminar I
  • Dental Hygiene Theory and Science II
  • Dental Hygiene Seminar II
  • Research Methodologies and Statistics
  • Dental Hygiene Theory and Science III
  • Dental Hygiene Seminar
  • Technology in Higher Education
  • Educational Concepts and Strategies
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Practicum in Pre-Clinical/Clinical Teaching
  • Foundations of Oral Health Services
  • Practicum in Didactic Teaching
  • Applied Biostatistics
  • Thesis

The cost of a Master’s Degree in Dental Hygiene program is between $24,422 and $38,200.

When deciding which college or university to attend, we strongly recommend contacting them for further information and details.

Click the button below to get free info about accredited Master’s Degree programs near you.
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Step 4: Get licensed

All US states require dental hygienists to become licensed. The licensing requirements vary from state to state and we highly recommend to contact your state’s medical board and learn exactly what the requirements are.

National Board Dental Hygiene Examination

National Board Dental Hygiene Examination is issued by (ADA) American Dentists Organization. It fulfills partially or wholly the written licensing requirements of the majority of states.

Requirements

Graduation from a CODA accredited dental hygienist training program.

Examination

Pass a 350 multiple question written test. You need to get more than 70 on a scale of 100.

Cost: $410

How Long Does it take to Become a Dental Hygienist and How Much  does it Cost?

Option1: Certificate

Degree Time Cost
Certificate 1 year - 2 years$5,500- $10,800
Certification 1 month$410
Total 1 year - 2 years$5,410 - $11,210

Option 2: Associate’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Associates Degree2 years$15,700 to $54,920
Certification 1 month $410
Total 2 years & 1 month $16,110 - $55,330

Option 3: Bachelor’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years$29, 950 - $80, 050
Certification 1 month $410
Total 4 years & 1 month$30,360 - $80,460

Option 4: Master’s Degree

DegreeTime Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years$29, 950 - $80, 050
Master's2 years$24, 422 - $38, 200
Certification1 month $410
Total6 years $54, 782 - $118, 660
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