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How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Colorado

When starting a career as a dental hygienist in the state of Colorado, there are a wide variety of things that you should know before beginning this process. As with any health care related occupation, there are a plethora of requirements that you will need to obtain before you can become a fully salaried dental hygienist. The following guide will help you understand all of these requirements, as well as everything you can expect to encounter once you have become a dental hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Requirements

A dental hygienist is a dental worker that focuses on the polishing and cleaning of a persons teeth, as well as making sure that the patient leaves with a better understanding of oral care. In Colorado, there are a wide range of requirements that someone must first possess before becoming a fully licensed dental hygienist, which will be explained in further detail within the following.

Prior Education and Training Required

The first step towards becoming a dental hygienist is to receive a degree. These degrees can be obtained at any community college, dental school, technical college or university. When looking at the type of degree that will be necessary, any type will give you an opportunity to become a dental hygienist, even an Associate’s degree. At the very least, you should obtain an Associate’s degree in health studies, with a focus in dental hygiene if available. This will allow you to take the tests necessary to move on to a position as a dental hygienist.

A bachelor’s degree isn’t exactly necessary, but it will provide you with easier access to future career advancements. These degrees will typically include a hands-on training portion that will allow students to practice cleaning and polishing teeth, among other duties. It’s also essential that the degree you take has been fully accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association.

Does a Dental Hygienist Need to be Certified

All 50 states, including Colorado, require a prospective dental hygienist to first receive a certification, typically known as a license, before they can become a professional hygienist. Once this has been accomplished, you will have the ability to use the initials R.D.H. after your name.

How a Dental Hygienist Can Become Certified

Receiving your dental hygienist license isn’t too difficult. Once you have obtained an Associate’s degree, you will gain the opportunity of becoming licensed. To do so in Colorado, you will need to pass an exam that contains a written portion and a practical portion. This exam will test you on all you have learned throughout your educational courses leading up to that point. After passing the exam and earning your license, you are now able to apply for a job as a dental hygienist wherever you please.

Is it Necessary to Receive Further Education

It is not exactly necessary to receive further education in order to become a dental hygienist. While it may help to expedite your job search, it doesn’t bump up your eventual salary at all. However, earning a Bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene will open doors for positions in advanced clinical care and health management later in your career, while a Master’s degree in dental hygiene can help you obtain a research or academia job later on as well.

Dental Hygienist Salary

The starting salary for a dental hygienist in Colorado is largely above the national average. If you’re working in the capital of Denver, you can earn an annual salary that ranges anywhere from $53,000 to just above $85,000. The average sits at$69,000 per year.

Dental Hygienist Job Duties

As a dental hygienist, you will be tasked with carrying out a wide range of duties. The only person you will answer to is the head dentist, while it will be up to you to clean every aspect of a persons teeth, including calcareous deposits and stains, both on the teeth and under the gums. You may also need to apply fluorides and sealants. A dental hygienist must work with patients to teach them about proper oral hygiene techniques and how good nutrition can keep teeth healthy. They will also need to make models of a patients teeth at times, as well as taking dental x-rays and asking patients relevant health questions. Up-to-date documentation may also be required.

Tasks a Dental Hygienist is Legally Allowed to Perform

A dental hygienist can perform a wide range of basic dental procedures in Colorado. However, they can not do any of the following:


  • scaling
  • diagnosis
  • treatment planning
  • administering prescriptions
  • administering anesthesia
  • root planning
  • soft tissue curettage
  • periodontal probing