A dental hygienist is a licensed oral healthcare provider who works closely with a licensed dentist. Like most careers, becoming a dental hygienist has it’s own set of challenges, highs, and lows.
It requires an exceptional level of motivation and patience — as it comes with a lot of hard work. Here’s what you need to know about becoming a dental hygienist.
How difficult are Dental Hygienist courses?
Dental hygienist programs consist of rigorous classes meant to expose future dental hygienists to all the necessary tools to be successful. Each offered course will require significant focus and determination.
You should expect to take classes such as biology, chemistry, and other science-based courses to begin with. Successfully completed courses may be challenging but not impossible. Some professors will be more easy-going than others, so always give it your best shot.
What are the time commitments to become a Dental Hygienist?
Pursuing a dental hygiene career requires a lot of time commitment. Apart from spending time in class for most of the day, you’ll also need to spend a dedicated amount of time to studying. There will be days when you might have to choose between hanging out with friends or studying. Be sure to schedule your time accordingly, always keeping in mind that your academics should come first.
Think about it this way: The more time you spend learning the material, the more prepared you’ll be. This career requires a lot of sacrifices, but at the end of the day, your hard work will definitely pay off.
Dental Hygienist required examination and certification
To ensure that dental hygienists are well prepared for the job, state dental boards require the completion of a dental assisting program. Dental programs can be completed at the associate or bachelor’s degree level along with the successful completion of a national examination and a state/local examination.
Dental hygienists seeking licensure to practice safely and responsibly must carefully complete and pass (with a minimum score of 75 out of 99) the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination via the Joint Commission on National Dental Examination (JCNDE). The exam cost $400. The NBDHE exam will consist of 350 questions, which are broken down into two components: Component A and Component B.
The examination will assess the candidate’s ability to apply their knowledge of dental hygiene in a problem-solving context. Those who pass the exam provide confidence that they will use their skills, judgment, and expertise to practice safely.
After you successfully complete the examination, the next step will be to complete a regional or state clinical board examination.
To take the NBDHE, you must first apply through JCNDE. If you meet the eligibility requirements for testing, your application will be passed down to Pearson VUE (Who will administer the test). Subsequently, JCNDE will email you appointment scheduling instructions.
Once you successfully pass the NBDHE, you will be able to get examined for your state licensure. The exam will consist of a clinical examination, which is designed to provide a clear overview of the candidate’s clinical skills. Each test differs, but most consist of patient treatments in a clinical setting.
Some states have their own clinical examinations. You’ll want to check with one of the following agencies about examinations in your location:
- Western Regional Examining Board (WREB)
- Southern Regional Testing Agency (SRTA)
- North East Regional Board (NERB) of Dental Examiners
- Council of Interstate Testing Agencies (CITA)
- Central Regional Dental Testing Services (CRDTS)
For more information about licensure requirements, visit the American Dental Hygienist Association.
Dental hygiene classes require a high level of commitment. You will need to learn a great deal of course material in a short period.
Being a dental hygienist is a gratifying job, but it can be a bit difficult. It’s nothing that you can’t handle with the proper degree of motivation, and patience.