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How to Become a Dental Hygienist in North Carolina

Are you looking to start a career as a Dental Hygienist in North Carolina? If you are ready to take action and work towards a better future, now is the time to learn about the state requirements to work in dental hygiene. In North Carolina, you must complete an accredited dental hygienist program recognized by the state board and gain experience before you can hold the title Dental Hygienist. Read on, and learn about the requirements to start a career in dental hygiene, what types of training you must complete, and what you can expect once you are licensed.

* Dental Hygienist Requirements

Professional requirements in Dental Hygiene vary from state to state. This is why residents in North Carolina, or individuals who are planning to practice in the state should be familiar with the requirements before they enroll in any type of training program. Not just any graduate can become a dental hygienist in North Carolina. Before you can fill out a hygienist application with the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners, you should know these requirements and satisfy them.

All applicants must pass a background check, undergo a fingerprint-based criminal history check, and qualify for licensure with their credentials, military endorsement or by passing a written and clinical examination. North Carolina is one of the few states that does not have reciprocity with other states. This means that anyone practicing in a clinical setting must test for licensure or prove that they are qualified and in good standing with their current licensing board before they can work in the state.

* Is Any Prior Education or Training Required?

Licensure is required to practice dental hyigiene in North Carolina. All states have three separate requirements you must meet before being granted your license: an educational requirement, a written exam requirement and a clinical requirement. Before you can test for your license you will need to complete an accredited educational program that holds an accreditation with the Commission on Dental Accreditation.

You can take either a Bachelor’s degree program or a Dental Hygienist certificate program as long as the curriculum has been approved by the accrediting body. Once you graduate from an accepted program, you present your transcript and then apply to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination along with the North Carolina State Board Examination.

* Are Dental Hygienists Required to Be Certified?

Dental hygienists are not required to be certified in North Carolina, but they do have to possess a professional license issued by the state board. While you do not have to be certified to practice, by getting certified you can practice under limited supervision of a dentist. Professionals who are licensed but are not certified for limited supervision status must be employed by a dentist and practice under supervision at all times. Certified hygienist still must be in a setting where a dentist is in the office unless you are working in a alternative site like a nursing home or rural health clinic.

* How Can a Dental Hygienist Become Certified?

There is not a formal certification process, but before you will be eligible, you must be able to show 2000 hours of practice and 3 years of experience within the last 5 years. You must also complete medical emergency courses, have a CPR certification and have your employing dentist state that you are able to complete hygiene procedures without being supervised.

* Is Continuing Education Necessary?

The purpose of continuing education is to ensure that hygienists stay up-to-date with techniques, emergency practices, and new legislation in the state. Anyone who has a professional license in dental hygiene must participate in continuing education to renew their license. Not only do you need 6 hours of medical emergency credits each year, you will also need four hours of credit in clinical subjects. All of the coursework must be completed with an accredited institution.

* Dental Hygienist Salary in North Carolina

The average salary reported for a dental hygienist in North Carolina is $66,360 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average hygienist earns $31.91 hourly, but your actual salary depends on several different factors including years of experience, area, employer and duties you perform.

* Dental Hygienist Job Duties

Your daily duties as a hygienist can vary. Typically, you will assess the oral condition of a patient, take X-rays, remove plaque, apply sealants and fluoride, polish teeth, and counsel your patients about nutrition and oral care. Some hygienists also make casts and impressions.

* What Tasks is a Dental Hygienist Legally Allowed to Perform?

Hygienists can legally medically screen their patients, examine their patients within the prescribed time, and perform most treatments to clean the tooth and the gumline. You may also perform dental prophylaxis under limited supervision when certified. Hygienists in NC are not allowed to legally administer anesthesia by injection due to the fact that it is not approved by the board as a permitted duty.