Dental hygienists should enroll in and complete an accredited dental hygienist program. To become a dental hygienist, you need to apply to a program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). In most cases, only those students who enroll in accredited programs are eligible for government funding. Graduation from an accredited program is one of the criteria needed for licensure and certification examinations in dental hygiene.

 Accredited Dental Hygienist Programs

Accreditation by CODA( ensures the best quality education for the applicants. CODA makes sure that all programs certified in institutions cover four key areas:   General education- Oral and written communication, psychology, and sociology   Biomedical sciences- Anatomy, pharmacology, physiology, biochemistry, chemistry, immunology, microbiology, and nutrition.   Dental sciences- Radiography, tooth morphology, oral pathology, periodontology, dental materials, and pain management.   Dental hygiene science- Oral health education, health promotion, patient management, dental emergencies, infection control, and the legal and ethical principles of dental hygiene practice.  

Admission requirements:   Admission requirements for any program for dental hygiene depend on the school. Many programs need a GPA of 2.5 or higher in your high school diploma. It is common for programs to require a CPR certification before beginning clinical practice.  

Types Of CODA Accredited Dental Hygienist Programs

  Associate’s degree:   This degree is for students who have no previous experience in the field. You can complete it in 2-3 years. You can earn an associate’s degree at technical or community colleges. Along with the curriculum, an associate’s degree will also entail that you complete clinical training.   Bachelor’s degree:  This program is for licensed dental hygienists who want to advance their education beyond the entry-level. A bachelor’s degree can take four years to complete. These programs are for dental hygienists whose interests lie in a more specialized care and may be looking for opportunities to increase their base dental hygienist salary(interlink-Dental Hygienist Salary Page). You will have to complete classroom courses in dental hygiene and take part in supervised clinical practice. These degree-completion programs are for students who already have their dental hygiene license. A bachelor’s degree helps you learn about research and leadership skills. You can earn your bachelor’s degree online as well. These online programs take about 15-18 months to complete.   Post-graduation:  The program is ideal for professionals who want advanced training. A master’s degree takes 16 months to complete. As a master’s degree holder, you can work in higher-level roles like oral disease prevention specialists or dental health education program leaders. Another requirement is to complete a capstone project.   Admission requirements for a Master’s degree vary from those other degrees:   GPA of 3.0 or higher   Proof of a current dental hygienist license   Specific scores on the GRE   Letters of recommendations   Possible career statement or a current resume    You will be able to enjoy the flexibility of taking courses at your convenience through online programs. You may still need to go on-campus or complete on-the-job training. The only exception to this is when you complete your associate’s degree with clinical practice. In this case, you don’t have to take in-field training for your bachelor’s degree.  

Dental Hygienist License

  After you graduate, you will have to pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE)( This test consists of 350 questions and has two parts: discipline-based and case-based components. The scoring ranges from 49–99, with 75 as the minimum score for passing.   After you pass the NBDHE, you have to appear for a clinical exam. This exam tests your knowledge of necessary dental hygiene procedures. Every state has its clinical-based exam. It is also common for licensure associations to require you to take a drug and law exam. After you pass all the required exams, you will completed the steps to become a registered dental hygienist(interlink-How To Become A Dental Hygienist) (RDH).   Dental hygienist license renewal   After you earn your license as a registered dental hygienist, you must renew it once every 1-3 years. This process makes sure that you stay up to date on the latest advancements in dentistry. You may have to prove that you have completed the necessary continuing education hours. These include CPR certification and infection control exams.   

On-Campus Dental Hygienist Schools

  THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (USC)   Location: Los Angeles   Program: Bachelor of Science (BS) in dental hygiene   Duration: 2 years   Tuition: $79,599 for the first year. $53,066 for the second year   Accreditation: Commission on Dental Accreditation  

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN   Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan   Tuition: $15,262   Duration: 2 years   Program: Bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene   Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission   SALT LAKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE   Location: Salt Lake City, Utah   Duration: 2 years   Program: Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in dental hygiene   Tuition: $25,000   Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities  

THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA SCHOOL OF DENTISTRY   Location: Minneapolis   Duration: 3 years   Program: Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene   Tuition: $58,047   Accreditation: Commission on Dental Accreditation

NEW YORK UNIVERSITY   Location: New York City, New York   Tuition: $56, 828   Duration: 2 years   Program: Bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene   Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

THE COLLEGE OF SOUTHERN NEVADA   Location: Charleston Boulevard, Las Vegas, Nevada   Duration: 2 years   Program: Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene   Accreditation: Commission on Dental Accreditation   Tuition: $19,920  

VALENCIA COLLEGE   Location: Orlando   Duration: 2 years   Program: associates degree in dental hygiene   Tuition: $6000   Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools   THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE (UT)   Location: Memphis, Tennessee   Duration: 4 years   Program: Bachelor of Science Degree in Dental Hygiene.   Tuition: $32,498   Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools  

Hybrid & Online Dental Hygienist Programs

  Northern Arizona University

This online course offers a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene (BSDH) degree. It aims to enhance the student’s clinical knowledge. You will get to study courses in management, education, and public health. All courses are offered online. This program also offers unique externships serving patients in on   Loma Linda University

It is an 18-month Bachelor of Science in dental hygiene degree (BSDH) that imparts dental hygienists’ skills and knowledge. This program will prepare you for management and administrative roles in many settings.  

Minnesota State University

Minnesota State University offers a two-year Bachelor of Science in dental hygiene (BSDH) degree. It is for those working part-time or full time and may need flexibility in their course-completion schedules.

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