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How to Become a Dental Hygienist in OHIO

It’s been said that a dental hygienist brightens the world one smile at a time. With an expertise in oral care, a dental hygienist is a vital part of a successful dental team. The means to this exciting career is an Associate’s degree from a dental hygienist school. In this article, we’ll outline the steps needed to achieve a professional status.


An accomplished dental hygienist has honed the following attributes:


  • interpersonal skills
  • manual dexterity
  • eye-hand coordination
  • aptitude for science
  • dedication to serving people


Have you heard the phrase “A dental hygienist is the boss of floss”? Well, as a licensed professional, you’ll be a lot more than that. Following are some of the rewarding things you’ll do:


  • take and read oral x-rays
  • clean teeth and gums, termed “prophylaxis”
  • screen for oral cancer
  • apply fluorides and sealants
  • teach home dental care
  • administer smoking cessation programs
  • counsel on nutrition

With dental technology constantly evolving, there will always be new materials, machines, and techniques to use. You’ll meet interesting people, with the opportunity to develop longstanding relationships. Interview any dental hygienist, and you’ll hear how happy they are with their work.


As a licensed dental hygienist, you’ll have a wide variety of employment settings to choose from. You can work in a school, hospital, marketing company, or private dental practice. You can have a career treating children, seniors, or special needs populations. With a bachelor’s or master’s degree, you can become a teacher, researcher, manager, or agency administrator. Scheduling flexibility is a valuable aspect of this profession, with part-time, full-time, evening, and weekend hours available.


In order to become a licensed dental hygienist in Ohio, you will need to attend an accredited school. When a school is accredited, it is officially recognized as meeting the highest standards of education. There are 12 accredited dental hygienist programs in Ohio. Schools vary in enrollment requirements. Below is a list incorporating general prerequisites:


  • High School Diploma or GED Equivalent
  • Placement Tests – ACT, SAT, COMPASS, TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills), and ESL, if appropriate
  • Prerequisite Courses, such as Anatomy and Physiology, Biology, and Chemistry
  • Health Occupation Basic Entrance Test


Below is a list of accredited dental hygienist schools in Ohio:

University of Cincinnati-Raymond Walters College – Blue Ash
Columbus State Community College – Columbus
Cuyahoga Community College District – Cleveland
Lakeland Community College – Kirtland
James A Rhodes State College – Lima
Lorain County Community College – Elyria
Owens Community College – Perrysburg
Shawnee State University – Portsmouth
Sinclair Community College – Dayton
Stark State College of Technology – North Canton
Youngstown State University – Youngstown

The top three community colleges voted best by students are: Cuyahoga, Owens, and Columbus State.


Enrollment requirements vary among schools. Following is a general list:


  • Proof of Current Immunizations
  • Health Insurance
  • CPR Certification
  • Documented Observation of a Dental Hygienist
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Essay
  • Drug Test
  • Background Check


The Associate in Applied Science Degree Program has 2 components, classroom instruction and clinical practice. Course titles and descriptions vary among schools, but the overall education is the same. Following are some of the fascinating subjects you’ll be learning:


  • medical terminology
  • dental materials
  • nutrition in dentistry
  • pharmacology
  • pain management
  • treating the anxious patient
  • preventive dentistry
  • advanced dental technology
  • equipment operation and maintenance
  • communication for health care professionals
  • office management

Clinical rotations feature hands-on education while treating patients in an on-campus clinic or off-campus dental practice.


The cost of education varies according to type of degree awarded, resident status, and type of school. The average annual tuition at a community college is $3,500 in-state and $7,200 out-of-state. Private school tuition averages $7,400 in-state and $12,600 out-of-state. University annual tuition averages $10,037 in-state and 23,445 out-of-state.


Choosing a school involves weighing many factors. These include program cost, location, length of study, and ancillary services. Writing down what you’re looking for in a school can help. Consider the following questions:


  • How much can you afford to invest in your education?
  • Do you want to commute or live on campus?
  • Do you want to attend a 2-year or 4-year program?
  • Is campus life and involvement important to you?

To assist in making your decision, following are some distinctions among community colleges, private schools, and universities:

Community Colleges

Tuition and fees are lower at a community college. Most provide financial assistance in the form of grants and scholarships. The time investment towards employment is much shorter, which is another financial boon. Class size is smaller, providing more individualized instruction. You have a greater opportunity to interact with other students and faculty.

Private Schools

Private schools set very high standards for their students, and coursework is demanding. If you need to work while attending school, a private education may require more time than you have to invest. The student community at a private school is very close-knit. There is an emphasis on classroom and campus involvement. Tuition is higher at a private school. Financial assistance can somewhat cut costs through grants and scholarships. Class size is small.


The investment in time and money is greater at a university. However, this is offset by a broader scope of employment opportunities upon graduation. Campus life is a primary draw if you have an interest in cultural events, guest lectures, student clubs, and honor societies. A diverse student body provides for interesting social contact. Class size is larger. You are somewhat anonymous among a large throng of students.


To obtain a license in Ohio, you need to:


  • Graduate from an accredited school
  • Take a Jurisprudence Exam on the Dental Practice Act
  • Pass one of the following Regional Board Examinations: North East Regional Board (NERB), Central Regional Dental Testing Service (CRDTS), Southern Regional Testing Agency (SRTA), or the Western Regional Examining Board (WREB)
  • Submit a “Final Report Card” from the National Board of Dental Examiners
  • Submit letters of recommendation
  • Provide proof of immunity or vaccination against Hepatitis B
  • Be CPR Certified
  • Undergo an FBI Criminal Background Check


Every state has its own laws regarding the range of services a dental hygienist can perform. In Ohio, under a dentist’s supervision, you can provide:


  • Prophylaxis
  • Periodontal scaling, root planing, and soft tissue curettage (removal of diseased gum tissue)
  • Tooth bleaching, except that using light or laser technology
  • Fluoride and pit/fissure sealant application
  • X-ray procedures
  • Topical and local anesthesia
  • Nitrous oxide analgesia
  • Assessment of tooth pulp chambers and nerves, using pulp-vitality equipment
  • Cavity identification, using Diagnodent equipment
  • Model impressions
  • Intra-oral bite registrations
  • Placement and removal of periodontal dressings
  • Suture Removal
  • Monitoring vital signs
  • Assistance during administration of life-support activities
  • Patient education on home care
  • Counseling on dental nutrition

Dental hygienists in Ohio may not provide:


  • Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment Planning
  • Suture Placement


To remain licensed in Ohio, you will need to obtain 24 continuing education hours within each 2-year renewal period.


Salaries of dental hygienists vary by geographic location, employment setting, level of education, and experience. The average annual salary of a licensed dental hygienist in Ohio is $58,200. The range is from $46,400 to $70,400 per year.


The Bureau of Labor predicts a 38% job surge for dental hygienists through 2020. The profession is growing much faster than all other U.S. occupations. How does that sound for job security!


As a licensed dental hygienist in Ohio, you can enjoy an exciting career with advancement potential and premium earnings. Your job will always be interesting and in high demand. With scheduling flexibility, you can tailor your position to your lifestyle.

You can be that special person that brightens the world one smile at a time! (-: