How to Become a Dental Hygienist In 2023? Steps With Guide

How to Become a Dental Hygienist In 2023? Steps With Guide

Are you interested in how to become a dental hygienist In 2023? This blog will provide you with important information and guidance on the necessary steps and requirements to become a Dental Hygienist. 

From the educational qualifications to the practical experience required, we will help you prepare for a thriving career in Dental Hygiene. Let’s begin!

To become a dental hygienist, One must fulfill the educational requirements, which can involve obtaining an associate or bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene to become a dental hygienist. 

Passing licensure exams is also necessary to obtain a license which is mandated in all states to practice as a dental hygienist.

Key Points:

  • Important information and guidance on becoming a dental hygienist in 2023.
  • Educational requirements involve obtaining a degree in dental hygiene.
  • Licensure exams are required to obtain a license to practice as a dental hygienist.
  • Preparation is necessary for a successful career in dental hygiene.
  • Five key points for the blog on how to become a dental hygienist in 2023.

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What Is a Dental Hygienist?

A Dental Hygienist is a professional who specializes in preventing and treating oral diseases by removing debris from teeth, giving advice on oral care, and assisting in dental procedures. They work with dentists and other dental professionals.

How To Become a Dental Hygienist: Steps With Guide

To pursue a career as a dental hygienist, certain educational and certification prerequisites must be fulfilled. Here are some of the steps you should consider when pursuing a career in the field:

Earn An Associate Degree

To become a dental hygienist, you need to obtain an associate degree. While bachelor’s and master’s degrees are also options, they are less prevalent and typically only necessary for roles such as teaching or research.

There is a wide array of associate degree programs in dental hygiene available at community colleges, technical schools, vocational schools, and even universities. The American Dental Association confirms that over 300 programs are accredited within the United States.

Pass The National Board Dental Hygiene Examination

After finishing the associate degree, passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination is mandatory. 

The exam is administered by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE) and consists of 350 questions in two parts, comprising discipline-based and case-based items.

Complete Any Required State Licensing

After successfully passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, it is crucial to research the type of licensing needed in the state where you intend to work. 

The prerequisites for obtaining a license vary among states. Nonetheless, completing an accredited dental hygiene program, passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, and clearing a clinical board examination at the state or regional level are typically mandatory.

Practice Critical Workplace Skills

In the role of a dental hygienist, daily interaction with patients, dentists, dental assistants, and office staff necessitates the development of exceptional interpersonal skills to excel at the job. 

The job requires the ability to soothe anxious patients on certain days and collaborate with other dental professionals to ensure the best care for patients on other days.

Some common human skills you can expect to use on the job include: 

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving
  • Communication skills
  • Detail-oriented
  • Dexterity

Consider Additional Training

Further training is a popular option for dental hygienists. Pursuing an advanced degree is one such option, as discussed previously. 

For those holding a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene, career opportunities exist in education, school health programs, public health programs, and other clinical settings. 

Meanwhile, a master’s degree opens doors to careers in education, research, health care administration, advanced clinical positions, and public health.

It is possible that you will need to meet a specific number of continuing education hours annually or biennially to retain your dental hygienist license. 

Even if not required, attending these courses is beneficial as it allows you to remain informed on the latest dental hygiene advancements and practices.

What Does a Dental Hygienist Do?

Currently, dental hygienists have an unprecedented range of opportunities for education and employment. Both in-person and online training options are available, as well as non-traditional clinic work settings. 

To pursue a career in this rapidly expanding field, read on for the necessary steps to obtain licensure as a dental hygienist.

Collaborating closely with dentists, the primary focus of a dental hygienist is to provide preventative oral healthcare for their patients. 

They undertake tasks such as teeth cleaning, gum examination, and medical history collection while educating their patients on effective oral care methods.

Dental Hygienist Duties

  • Performing tartar, plaque, and stain removal using instruments such as scrapers and polishers.
  • Administering preventive treatments like fluoride and sealants.
  • Capturing and processing X-rays of the oral cavity.
  • Documenting observations during cleanings and communicating relevant details to the dentist.
  • Supporting the dentist during procedures, including anesthesia administration and suture removal.

Dental Hygienist VS. Dental Assistant

Dental hygienists and dental assistants work in dental settings but have distinct roles and responsibilities.

Dental Hygienist Dental Assistant
Have more extensive education and training, typically an associate degree or higher.Typically have a certificate or diploma from a dental assisting program.
Focus on preventative care and treatment of oral diseases and conditions.May prepare and sterilize equipment and instruments.
Require a license to practice in most states.Assist dentists with procedures such as fillings, extractions, and root canals.

Dental Hygienist Education Requirements

To become a dental hygienist, certain education and certification requirements must be met. These requirements include:

  • Earning an associate degree in dental hygiene
  • Passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination
  • Completing a state or regional clinical board examination for licensing
  • Continuing education courses to maintain licensure

Additional education and training, such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree, may also be pursued for advanced career opportunities.

Salary And Job outlook Of Dental Hygienist

Based on data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for dental hygienists is $77,810 as of May 2021. This amounts to an hourly wage of $37.41. Private dental offices are typically the highest-paying work environments for dental hygienists.

In the upcoming decade, from 2021 to 2031, the job openings in the field of dental hygiene are expected to increase by 9 percent as projected by the BLS. This increase is estimated to add an average of 16,300 new jobs each year during this period.

Skills Required To Become a Dental Hygienist

To become a successful dental hygienist, you should possess a variety of skills and qualities including:

  • Attention to detail
  • Interpersonal links
  • Manual dexterity
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving skills
  • Empathy
  • Physical stamina


Becoming a dental hygienist in 2023 is an achievable goal with dedication and hard work. You must complete the necessary educational requirements, obtain licensure, and stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the field. With the proper preparation, you can become a qualified and successful dental hygienist within the next few years. Contact us for more content like this!

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Become a Dental Hygienist

It generally requires two to four years to become a dental hygienist, which involves finishing a dental hygiene educational program and passing the necessary licensing exams.

Dental hygienists can work in various healthcare settings, including dental offices, clinics, hospitals, public health departments, nursing homes, dental schools, and other community health settings.

Dental hygienists must obtain a license to work with patients in all 50 states. Licensing requirements vary by state, so it’s important to research and follow the appropriate steps.

In Canada, dental hygienists are required to be licensed by the dental hygiene regulatory authority in their province or territory. They must hold a diploma in dental hygiene from a college, university, or private post-secondary institution.

Foreign-educated dentists need to undergo further education in an accredited program from a US dental school approved by the Commission of Dental Accreditation to qualify for licensure.

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Sara Blauvelt
By Sara Blauvelt

Hey everyone, I am Sarah, an experienced career writer with a talent for breaking down complex career concepts into easily digestible content that helps job seekers succeed. Skilled career communicator, known for producing high-quality, data-driven content that provides valuable insights and strategies for career success.