Dental Hygienist Licensing
Become a Dental Hygienist…
- Career Plan: How to Become a Dental Hygienist
Dental Hygienist Resources…
Dental hygienists are licensed by the board in their own municipality. Licensure involves passing a board exam. Most states use an exam administered by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (a part of the American Dental Association). The NBDHE (National Board Dental Hygiene Examination) assesses competency in three areas: basic science, community health and research, and clinical dental hygiene. The exam is divided into two sections, the second involving patient care studies. Before taking the exam, you determine which state board to have your sores sent to; it will take several weeks after testing for the scores to be sent. A candidate who fails to make the passing score of 75 must wait three months before trying again. You can find a study guide, and instructions on scheduling a testing appointment, on the site of the ADA.
While there are many commonalities, the testing process is not identical everywhere. Municipalities generally have their own state-specific exams as well. These may include competency tests and jurisprudence exams (tests on regulations and ethics policies).
Virtually every municipality has requirements for continuing education, but they do vary quite a bit. Continuing education cycles are generally one to three years, but may be as long as five. Some municipalities ask dental hygienists to report each class they take while others have an auditing process — you report if you’re asked to. Almost all states legally mandate CPR (and it’s important whether or not it’s listed on the books). Some states have other required classes, for example, bloodborne pathogens or prevention of medical errors.