Becoming a Dental Hygienist: What You Need to Know

To become a dental hygienist, an associate degree or certificate in dental hygiene is typically required. This typically takes two to three years of study. After completing the degree or certificate program, state licensure is often required.

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Achieving dental hygiene does not have to take years of schooling or dedication. With just a few simple steps, you can improve your oral health and maintain it for years to come. Start by brushing twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Flossing daily will help to remove plaque and food particles from between teeth and along the gum line. Regular visits to the dentist for professional cleanings and checkups are also important for keeping your smile healthy. Make these habits part of your daily routine and you’ll be on the path to a lifetime of good dental hygiene.


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To become a dental hygienist, an associate degree or certificate in dental hygiene is typically required. This typically takes two to three years of study. After completing the degree or certificate program, state licensure is often required.

Types of Dental Hygiene Degrees

There are many types of dental hygiene degrees available, ranging from Associate of Science (AS) to Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Each degree program focuses on different aspects of the field, such as dental health education, clinical practice, and research. Students can specialize in areas such as periodontology or public health to gain additional skills and experience. Regardless of the degree chosen, students should ensure that their program is accredited by the American Dental Association.

Cost and Time Commitment for Dental Hygiene Programs

boy in yellow and gray jacket standing in corn field during daytimeDental hygiene programs are a great way to gain valuable skills and experience in the field. They typically require a minimal cost and time commitment, allowing individuals to study on their own schedules. Programs can be completed quickly, in as little as a few weeks or months, depending on the program. With the right resources and guidance, you can gain the knowledge and skills needed to become a successful dental hygienist.

For those looking to become certified, there are a variety of options available. You can take courses online, attend classes at a local college, or even get certified through an apprenticeship program. No matter which route you choose, the cost and time commitment is relatively low compared to other professional programs.
Before committing to a program, make sure to research the different schools and programs available to find one that’s right for you. With the right education, you’ll be well-prepared to pursue a career in dental hygiene and make a difference in the lives of those around you.

Dental Hygiene Prerequisites

Earning a degree in dental hygiene requires certain prerequisites. Students must have a high school diploma or GED and may need to demonstrate proficiency in math and science. Depending on the program, other requirements such as minimum GPA, computer literacy, and physical health may be necessary. Prospective students should research their chosen program to ensure they meet all prerequisites before applying.

Licensing Requirements for Dental Hygienists

pair of gray Nike high-top sneakers on snowDental Hygienists are healthcare professionals who provide preventive and therapeutic services to individuals and groups. They must meet licensing requirements set by the state in order to practice, which typically include completing an accredited dental hygiene program and passing a licensure exam. Continuing education is also often required to maintain licensure. Requirements may vary by state, so it is important to check with the appropriate licensing board for details.

Licensing requirements for dental hygienists protect the public by ensuring that practitioners have the necessary knowledge and skills to deliver quality care.

Career Paths for Dental Hygienists

Dental hygienists are vital members of the dental care team, providing preventive and educational care to patients. With the right training and experience, they can embark on a variety of career paths in the field, such as becoming a clinic or office manager, working in research, or teaching at a college or university. Those interested in furthering their education can even pursue a degree in dental hygiene, which can open up even more opportunities. The demand for qualified professionals in this field is growing, making it an excellent choice for those looking to start a fulfilling career.

Job Outlook for Dental Hygienists

man in blue dress shirt and black pants riding red motorcycleJob outlook for dental hygienists is strong. With the growing demand for quality oral healthcare, more and more dental hygienists are needed across the country. Dental hygienists provide preventive care, such as cleaning teeth, administering fluoride treatments, and providing nutritional advice. They also help with diagnosing and treating oral diseases, performing radiographs, and providing patient education. With a focus on patient care, dental hygienists must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

Dental hygienists must complete an accredited program and gain licensure in the state they wish to practice. Qualifications may include an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, or a certificate of completion. Most programs involve courses in anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, nutrition, dental materials, and periodontics.
Job prospects for dental hygienists continue to be strong and the field is expected to grow at a rate of 11% through 2029.

Continuing Education for Dental Hygienists

Continuing education for dental hygienists is essential for staying up-to-date on the latest developments and techniques in the field. Programs allow professionals to deepen their knowledge, increase their skills, and stay abreast of changing trends. Many courses are offered online, allowing hygienists to fit learning into their schedules. The programs provide an opportunity to enhance career prospects and sharpen skills.

Certified instructors provide comprehensive, quality instruction in a variety of topics. Courses range from basic to advanced levels, giving students the ability to choose the level that best fits their needs. Participants may earn credits or certificates upon completion of the course.
Continuing education for dental hygienists is available in a variety of formats, including online, in-person, and webinars. Programs are designed to provide the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in the profession.

Benefits of Dental Hygiene Programs

time-lapse photography of fireworks exploding in the sky during nighttimeDental hygiene programs provide numerous benefits to individuals and communities. They can promote better oral health by improving access to oral health care, reducing the risk of developing cavities and gum disease, and encouraging regular brushing and flossing. Programs can also help people save money by providing preventative care and reducing the need for costly procedures. Additionally, dental hygiene programs can offer educational opportunities to help people understand the importance of good oral hygiene and how to maintain it.

By providing access to preventative care, dental hygiene programs can help improve overall health and well-being. Studies have shown that good oral health is linked to overall health, and that periodontal diseases are associated with a range of other conditions and diseases. These programs can help reduce the risk of developing serious health issues such as heart attack, stroke and diabetes.
Overall, dental hygiene programs play an important role in improving oral health and overall wellbeing. They can help reduce the risk of developing cavities and gum disease, improve access to preventative care, and provide educational opportunities for individuals.


To become a dental hygienist, you typically need at least an associate’s degree in dental hygiene, which takes 2-3 years to complete. However, some employers may require a bachelor’s degree or even a master’s degree.

Before enrolling in a program, make sure it is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, as this is often a requirement for licensure.
With the right education and training, you can be prepared to pursue a rewarding career as a dental hygienist.

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Some questions with answers

How many years of college are needed to become a dental hygienist?

Most dental hygienists need an associate's degree or certificate in dental hygiene, which typically takes two years to complete.

Do dental hygienists need to be registered?

In some states, dental hygienists must be registered with the state board of dentistry. Registration requirements vary by state.

Are any additional certifications required for dental hygienists?

Yes, most states require dental hygienists to be licensed. To qualify for licensure, dental hygienists must complete an accredited program, pass a written and clinical exam, and complete continuing education courses.

What kind of courses do dental hygienists take in college?

Dental hygienists take courses in anatomy, physiology, chemistry, pharmacology, nutrition, radiology, and other related topics.

What is the average salary of a dental hygienist?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for dental hygienists was $76,220 in 2020.

What type of job duties do dental hygienists perform?

Dental hygienists clean teeth, remove plaque and tartar, take digital x-rays, give fluoride treatments, and teach patients about proper oral hygiene.

What kind of jobs are available to dental hygienists?

Dental hygienists can work in private dental offices, hospitals, public health clinics, educational institutions, and research organizations.

Do dental hygienists need to be certified?

Yes, most states require dental hygienists to be licensed. To qualify for licensure, dental hygienists must complete an accredited program, pass a written and clinical exam, and complete continuing education courses.

What kind of skills do dental hygienists need?

Dental hygienists need excellent communication and interpersonal skills, as well as technical skills such as the ability to use dental instruments and equipment.

What is the job outlook for dental hygienists?

The job outlook for dental hygienists is positive, with a projected growth rate of 11% from 2019-2029.

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