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How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Georgia

On a day-to-day basis, dental hygienists spend the majority of their time with patients. They perform duties such as reviewing health history, screening for oral cancer, removing calculus and plaque from teeth, teaching patients about good oral hygiene and explaining the positive effects of good nutrition on oral health. When they are not seeing patients, they perform duties such as ensuring that their equipment runs properly and meets OSHA standards. They might also help other employees in the office with tasks such as answering phones and scheduling appointments.

Dental Hygienist Schools
The education requirement for dental hygienists in Georgia is an Applied Science, Bachelor of Science. or Bachelor of Arts. degree from a dental hygiene school accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Education. The schools listed below offer accredited programs:

• Darton College
• Armstrong Atlantic State University
• West Georgia Technical College
• Clayton State University
• Columbus Technical College
• Georgia Highlands College
• Middle Georgia Technical College
• Lanier Technical College
• Central Georgia Technical College
• Medical College of Georgia
• Georgia Perimeter College
• Athens Technical College
• Southeastern Technical College
• Medix College
• Georgia Regents University

The majority of these schools offer Applied Science degrees. However, Clayton State University and Georgia Regents University offer Bachelor of Science degrees.

Is any prior education or training required?
Dental hygiene programs require courses such as pharmacology, anatomy, chemistry and microbiology, as well as supervised clinical experiences. These programs may also require some liberal arts courses. For high school students considering a career in dental hygiene, it would be helpful to take courses such as biology mathematics, health and chemistry.

Admission to a dental hygiene program usually requires an application, a high school diploma or GED and a transcript. Other admission requirements vary from one school to another, but might include a background check, proof of current medical insurance, immunizations and CPR training. Some schools might require a letter of recommendation, prerequisite courses and college placement tests, such as the SAT and the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS). Other schools might require a certain number of hours observing a dental hygienist and a dentist as they work.

Licensing
Anyone who wishes to work as a dental hygienist in Georgia must obtain a license from the state by submitting an application from the Georgia Board of Dentistry website, together with the fee and the following supporting documentation:

• Verification of any dental license held in another state
• Degree transcripts
• National board scores
• Clinical licensure examination.
• Jurisprudence examination
• Certified report of disciplinary or malpractice actions against a license held in another state
• Criminal history information
• Explanation of any discrepancy in the applicant’s name

The Georgia Board of Dentistry website provides detailed information about the required supporting documentation.

Licenses expire at the end of each odd-numbered year, and the deadline for renewal is the end of June of the following year. Dental hygienists must complete 40 continuing education hours by December 31 of odd-numbered years. CPR is an American Red Cross course taught in a classroom. The remaining continuing education hours can be taken online or in a classroom.

Dental Hygienist Salary
The average salary for a dental hygienist working in Georgia is $65,570.