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How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Idaho

Dental hygienists are medical professionals who work in dental facilities assisting dentists in their duties and helping to provide the patients with kindness, compassion and professionalism. Learn how you can become a dental hygienist in Idaho as well as what you’ll need for training and what you can expect for career wages and more.

Dental Hygienist Requirements

To become a dental hygienist in Idaho, you’ll need to complete an associate degree program in dental hygiene. Dental hygiene programs generally have a blended curriculum of lectures, lab classes and clinical education. The clinical education is to provide the student with hands-on training working in a real dental clinic under the supervision of a licensed dentist. Dental hygienist students may take the following courses.

• Gross anatomy and physiology
• Dental radiography
• Anatomy of the teeth, neck and head
• Periodontology
• Clinical dental hygiene
• Embryology and histology

There are many steps that must be completed to become a licensed dental hygienist and be eligible to work in the state of Idaho. Although they’re described in more detail throughout this article, here is a complete list of all that’s required to work as a dental hygienist in Idaho.

• Complete accredited dental hygienist training program – program should be accredited by the American Dental Association
• Take clinical examination
• Take anesthesia examination
• Take licensing examination
• Send in licensing application with required documentation and fee
• Take jurisprudence examination

Is Any Prior Education or Training Required?

Although there is not really any specific training or prior education required, dental hygienist students do have some prerequisite courses that must be completed prior to enrollment. Some students complete these courses through a pre-dental hygienist program. Dental hygienist programs are very competitive programs and have several admission requirements, such as the following.

• Medical history and physical exam
• Current immunizations
• CPR and First Aid certification
• Criminal background check
• Drug screening
• Eye exam
• Dental exam

Are Dental Hygienists Required to be Certified in Idaho?

Dental hygienists are not required to be certified in Idaho. However, as is the case in all 50 states, dental hygienists are required to be licensed if they want to work in Idaho. Aspiring dental hygienists must obtain their license through the Idaho Board of Dentistry.

How Can a Dental Hygienist Become Licensed?

To be eligible for licensure through the Idaho Board of Dentistry, you must pass an approved licensing examination. Candidates can choose from the Western Regional Examining Board (WREB), the Central Regional Dental Testing Service (CRDTS) or ADEX. Once you pass the exam, you can apply for a dental hygienist license. You will be required to pay a fee and submit proof of certain documentation along with the application.

Is Continuing Education Required?

Dental hygienists are required to complete at least 24 continuing education credits to be eligible for licensure renewal every two years. Continuation education may be offered at certain dental schools, online and through the American Dental Hygienist Association.

Salaries for Dental Hygienists in Idaho

Dental hygienists nationwide earned average annual wages of $71,110, according to a May 2013 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Wages ranged from $47,880 to more than $91,000. Location, level of training, experience, certifications and place of employment all play a role in how much a dental hygienist can earn.

Salaries in most of Idaho are below the national average, according to a September 2014 Salary.com report. Dental hygienists in Pocatello earned $58,325, while wages in Boise and Idaho Falls were $66,413 and $64,301.The BLS also reports that there were 1,140 dental hygienists employed in Idaho in 2013.

What Job Duties Does a Dental Hygienist Have?

Dental hygienists have a wide range of duties. They clean and polish teeth, removing stains and plaque from teeth. They must have a knowledge of and experience using hand, power and ultrasonic tools. They also take and develop x-rays of the patient’s teeth to determine if there are problems with the teeth or jaw.

Dental hygienists also apply fluoride and sealants to teeth. They assist licensed dentists through almost the entire appointment. Additional duties may include the following.

• Monitor the patient’s dental care and treatment plan.
• Show patients correct dental care, such as flossing and brushing
• Assist patients in developing and maintaining good oral health
• Assist patients in choosing correct oral care devices
• Help them select the correct toothbrushes based on the dentist’s observation
• Examine the patient’s mouth for signs of oral disease
• Provide the patients with educational material on dental health

What Tasks is a Dental Hygienist Legally Allowed to Perform?

Dental hygienists can complete all the above tasks but cannot administer anesthesia to patients without taking and passing either the WREB or Washington State local anesthesia examination. If they have not taken this exam, they have a provisional dental hygienist license that is only good for one year. At the end of a year, if the anesthesia exam is still not taken, the dental hygienist license may not be renewed.

A dental hygienist can also work in a supervised atmosphere in an extended access dental hygienist program if he or she has an extended access dental hygienist license. To get this license, the hygienist must have a regular dental hygienist license and at least 1,000 hours of clinical experience.