A license is a document issued by the government allowing someone to provide a service to its citizens. This is important since the government mandates certain regulations for medical professionals to uphold so that there is no compromise in the...
As a child, it was a nightmare to go to the dentist and get our teeth checked out. Especially since we were scared that our parents would find out that we haven’t been brushing regularly. Dental hygienists are like the Robin to a Dentist’s Batman. They help the dentists to perform tests and do routine cleaning. The dentist then analyses this work and prescribes medicines, fills cavities or helps the patient in other ways. Let us find out how you can become a dental hygienist too!
To become a dental hygienist, you need to possess a degree in dental science or dental hygiene. These courses last about 2-4 years depending on the course you take. The most popular option is to get an associate’s degree in dental hygiene. The course lasts about 2-3 years depending on the college. This is usually offered in community and dental colleges.
Another option is to get a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. The duration of this course is longer and helps you become a dentist later in your career. There are few programs that offer bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene.
The final option is to get a master’s degree. This is the longest route to becoming a dental hygienist. However, it is also the most useful choice in the field of dentistry. Dentists need to have a master’s degree to practice medicine. Thus, this path will help you transition from a dental hygienist to a dentist easily.
It is important to note that the degree offered by different colleges need to be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. Otherwise, you won’t be able to sit for the licensure examination. There are currently 300+ associate’s level programs approved by the CDA and more are piling up.
After completing your education and getting a degree (Associate’s, Bachelor’s or Master’s), it is time to get licensed by the state to practice medicine. As mentioned above, it is important that the course you registered for be recognized and accredited by the CDA for you to give the licensure exam.
You should then be allowed to give the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, which is a written test that you will need to pass.
You will also need to complete a state or regional level clinical board examination to be certified as Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH).
The laws in different states vary. But, once you provide proof that you have a CDA accredited degree in dental hygiene, passed the written test and completion of the clinical board examination, you are a certified RDH. You can also add the title “RDH” to your name like “Ph.D.”
Like every medical field, there is a scope of improvement and specializations as a dental hygienist too. You can learn how to use the latest technology like lasers to help with dentistry.
If you like, you can specialize in some or the other field to earn a bit more. You could choose to be a Public Health Administrator, Dental Hygiene Educator, Pediatric Dental Hygienist or Periodontal Dental Hygienist. Each of these specialists (except for educator) get paid more than a general RDH.
Now you know how to become a dental hygienist yourself. So, if you are extra picky about the oral health of your friends, family and even yourself, you can get started right away!