In the field of dental hygiene, certification and licensing are different. Dental hygienist certificate programs are available from a variety of educational institutions, such as community colleges, colleges, universities, technical schools, and dental schools. Upon completion of the program, which typically lasts about two years, individuals can receive a certification of completion in the program, which may or may not be able to be applied to earning an associate’s degree.
Often, there are additional educational options for a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in dental hygiene, but these are generally not required to become a dental hygienist. Once appropriate educational requirements have been met, even after obtaining a Dental Hygiene Certification, individuals will need to become licensed in order to become a practicing dental hygienist.
Why Become a Dental Hygienist?
A dental hygienist cleans teeth, applies fluoride treatments, takes x-rays, and identifies potential diseases of the mouth, tongue, and gums. A dental hygienist may also provide patient education in proper brushing, flossing, and home oral health care practices. In some cases, a dental hygienist assists the dentist in clinical procedures.
Why Obtain a Dental Hygienist Certification
Obtaining a Dental Hygienist Certification from a properly accredited educational facility insures that the candidate has met all of the educational and clinical requirements necessary to apply for and attain the appropriate licensing required to practice dental hygiene in the field as a profession.
Admission Requirements to a Dental Hygienist Certification Program
In most cases, prospective students will need to have a high school diploma or an equivalent. If possible, students should try to take courses such as science, biology, health, and math while still in high school. Different programs may also have additional requirements, such as additional coursework in certain areas, such as science, or even the completion of a year or more of college before being admitted into the certificate program. Some programs will require completion of coursework and certification in CPR. Additionally, a criminal background check may be prerequisite for admittance into some certificate programs. Check with several different dental hygiene certificate programs to find out the requirements for admittance into each to help in making a choice for the best program for you.
Completing the Dental Hygienist Certification Program
While each program is different, a dental hygienist certificate program should include information on proper oral health care, preventive dentistry instruction, use of different types of dental materials, pharmacology, periodontics, and aspects of dentistry that include microbiology, radiology, pathology, anatomy, and ethics. Other areas of study that are beneficial to those wishing to practice dental hygiene should include nutrition, community oral health, histology, and even anesthesiology. Actual clinical practice should be included in any dental hygiene certificate program as well.
What to Do after Completion of Dental Hygienist Certification
Once a certificate has been obtained for completion of a dental hygiene certificate program, those who wish to enter the job market as a dental hygienist should find out how to become licensed to practice dental hygiene in their state of residence. Those who wish to obtain further education before becoming a licensed hygienist should have another school already in mind so that they can have completed any necessary prerequisites for enrollment.
How to Become a Practicing Dental Hygienist
In order to become a practicing dental hygienist, a graduate must meet the licensing requirements of the state of residence and pass the required examinations. Applicants must complete the educational requirements provided through a program that is accredited through the American Dental Association. After successful completion of the educational requirements, candidates must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and any state testing required for licensing. There is also the possibility of other requirements to be met that are deemed necessary by each state.