Dental Hygienist: career guideline to become a Dental Hygienist

Spread the love

With the help of this content, you will determine who exactly are dental hygienists and how you can become a dental hygienist. Moreover, you can also know about the career opportunities for dental hygienists and the benefits of getting this degree.

Life as a dental hygienist doesn’t mean having fun, because it may require a special person who is not just working as a dental hygienist but also works in the medical field with patience, sympathy, kind-heartedness, and high practice skills.


Going to the dentist is not fun for some, because dental problems severely affect your health and life. Most people go to the dentist for routine check-ups, but they are taken into the hands of dental hygienists for cleaning purposes. Dental hygienist ensures the patients by using state of art and cleaning tools that teeth are squeaky clean. The dental hygienist is not just cleaning your teeth, but is also responsible for examining your entire mouth to evaluate the mouth cavities, signs of any injuries or decay by taking X-rays, assists the dentist, and also educates the patients for proper oral hygiene.

Dental hygienist is not a natural field because it may require high skills and a great passion for helping the patients.

What does a dental hygienist do?

Dental hygienists work with dentists, and they are considered as a primary concern with the patients for the prevention of oral health care and hygiene. There are lots of responsibilities or duties assigned to dental hygienists because they are considered as an essential part of dental departs. These may include:

  • They are responsible to use the tools (such as polishers that are helping to remove the tartar, scrapers, stains, and plaque) because they are well aware of all these dental tools.
  • The dental hygienist is also responsible for taking X-rays of the mouth.
  • They also apply preventative treatments to the patients (such as sealants and fluoride).
  • Dental hygienist is responsible for recording the findings and report all information regarding the patient to the dentist.
  • They also assist the dentist during the entire procedure (such as removing the sutures and administering anesthesia).
  • Sometimes dental hygienist also consults with the patient’s family.

Types of Dental Hygiene Degrees

According to the commission on dental accreditation (CODA), the accredited programs should cover the four key content areas which include the general education, biomedical sciences, dental sciences, and dental hygiene sciences. These all are further segmented into some of the concentrated topics which are listed below:

  • General Education: Psychology, oral and written communication, and sociology
  • Biomedical Science: Immunology, microbiology, biochemistry, physiology, chemistry, anatomy, pathology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and nutrition
  • Dental Science: Tooth morphology, histology, pathology, oral embryology, management, and dental materials, and periodontology
  • Dental Hygiene: Infection and hazard control, provision of services for patients with special needs, blood-borne diseases, clinical dental hygiene, legal and ethical principles of dental hygiene

These are the subjects that are required for completion of Dental hygiene and then you are able to apply all levels of degrees. If you want to pursue your career as dental hygienist then you should dive deeper into specialized areas such as systemic dental conditions, pediatric oral health, dental health theory, and researches.

What are the types of dental hygienist degrees?

Generally, the minimum level of a dental hygienist is an associate’s degree, even though bachelor’s and master’s degrees are optional choices for those who want to move their career greater in this field. The duration depends on the degree or program you choose for completion of your education.

1. Dental Hygienist Associates Degree

Dental hygienist associates degree is earned at the community, colleges, and technical schools. This degree takes 2 years to complete. This degree helps you acquire the necessary or basic information needed for licensing.

The coursework that covers the entire topics which are outlined by the commission on dental accreditation with completion of clinical experience. In the first year of this program, clinical services providing you that may acquire at least 8-12 hours of hands-on practice as per week or on a daily basis. Then this time period may exceed 12-16 hours of hand-on dental hygiene practice when you come in the second year.

Admission Requirements: Taking admission in the dental hygiene program actually depends on the school in which you want to take admission. Even though many programs need prerequisites completion with a 2.5 or higher GPA. The subjects included are:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Sociology
  • Anatomy

On the other hand, CPR certification becomes prior to entering the program and also needed to start the clinical practice.

2. Dental Hygienist Bachelors program

Dental hygiene Bachelors program is designed for those who are interested in specialization and want to practice or develop the programs in the school setting or public health sectors. In this program, you also need clinical practices and educational liberal arts.

This degree requires four years for completion even though you may earn this by one or in less time when you enter in associates in dental hygiene which is also known as degree-completion programs. These programs are designed for those students who have their dental hygiene license and they want to practice the skills of leadership and also strengthen their theory and research.

The students already gained clinical skills or hands-on practice when enrolled in an associate’s degree so the clinical experience is not considered as a necessary part.

Admission Requirement: To get enrolled in the Dental hygiene bachelor’s program you also require to meet the prerequisites and 2.5 or higher GPA. High school graduates need to take some courses that are also required to enroll in associate’s program, although the students who already have associate’s degree program having the knowledge in courses such as anatomy, biology, radiology, and dental materials.

3. Dental Hygienist Masters Degree

A Master’s degree proves beneficial for the students who want to teach, conduct the researches, and want to work in administrative level. Master’s degree in dental hygiene is proved to be the best option to peruse the career. Masters degree helps you to lead the role of higher-level such as prevention specialists, oral diseases, community program director, administration of dental health, and education programs. This degree takes 1-2 years for completion.

Admission Requirement: To get enrolled in the master’s program you need a dental hygienist bachelor’s degree that covers the entire prerequisites. The requirement to get admission includes:

  • 3.0 or higher GPA
  • Dental hygiene license
  • Getting acceptable scores on the GRE
  • Letter of Recommendation (LOR)
  • Current resume and career statement

4. Online Dental hygiene program

Yes, online degree program also exists but keep in mind that dental hygienist is generally the hands-on practicing field. In an online dental hygiene program, you will get proper education or knowledge and also enjoy the flexibility of taking online courses. But you will need to complete your clinical experience or hands-on practice for preparing yourself to perform all tasks efficiently.

Before registering in an online program you should complete your hands-on or clinical practices with earning the associates degree then you are able to earn the entire bachelor’s online program.

What is meant by the entry-level program and completion one?

Entry-level program and completion one are also considered as types of bachelors in dental hygiene.

  • The entry-level program: means a four-year degree program for those students who are entering right after high school. These four-year bachelor programs consist of two years of prerequisite subjects or courses and the remaining two years consist of major subjects or courses.
  • The completion of the degree: means two years program of dental hygiene for those students who have their dental hygiene license but they desire to get an official degree because they have associates degrees.

What can you do after completing a Bachelor’s in Dental Hygiene?

Clinical practice pursuing is the common career pathway after completing your Bachelor’s in dental hygiene, but keep in mind that it is not the only option because dental hygienists can also work in

  • Dental practices
  • Hospitals (either private or government)
  • Nursing homes
  • Corporate offices
  • Public health
  • Research
  • Institutions as a lecturer

A number of corporations within oral health industries need dental hygienists or the people who research and develop future products for oral health. Many universities and colleges need researchers for oral health and their proper hygiene throughout the years.

To invent new oral hygiene future products, the demand of dental hygienists have increased to a great extent because of paying more and more attention to oral hygiene among the patients.

How can you get your Dental Hygiene License?

The dental hygienists should have license by the state where they are working. After completion of the bachelor’s from an accredited program, students need to pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE). This national board dental hygiene examination test consists of 350 MCQ’s (multiple choice questions) that are segmented into two parts which are known as discipline-based and cases based components. The scale of the test score is 49-99, and 75 is considered as the minimum score of passing the test.

But keep in mind that every state has its own clinical-based tests that are designed to evaluate your dental hygiene knowledge, procedures, anesthesia, and restorative techniques. On the other hand, it is also requited drugs and law exams that are needed to cover the rules and regulations for the state. After passing all exams the state allows you to earn your license and registers you as Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH).

How to renew the Dental Hygienist License?

It is necessary that dental hygienist renew their license after every 1—3 years of the duration. For the renewal of the license, you will require to pay the demanded fees and also provide proof to show you have completed the required numbers that are necessary for continuing the education hours.

Frequently these are between 10-20 hours for every year cycle, 30-50 hours for completion of a two-year cycle, and at least 60 for three years cycle. American Dental Association offers a number of ways to earn continuing education.

Benefits of completing a Bachelor’s degree in Dental hygiene

After completion of a bachelor’s degree in this program, you are working closely with the dentist and also assisting the dental procedures, oral surgeries, carrying several procedures which include periodic cleaning, x-rays, etc. Dental hygienists are responsible to give answer to the dentist.  There are number of benefits to peruse the career in dental hygiene these are:

1. Job opportunities

Bachelor’s in dental hygiene is the four-year programs that are providing more and more opportunities as compared to an associate’s degree or any diploma. This degree has its own worth and has higher demands, in both government and private sectors.

They also work as a lecturer and train the dental hygienist that helps dental students to work in the field. Moreover, pharmacy companies also hire those who have to complete their bachelor’s program to manage dental products by ensuring certain standards.

2. Great salary packaging

Dental hygienists are considered an important part of healthcare with a good salary. Dental hygienists earn great and have higher-worth in hospitals and clinics. After completion of a bachelor’s in dental hygiene, you can easily earn money with great demanding packaging and your annual salary proves one of the best benefits of completing a bachelor’s degree.

3. Leadership Skills

If you have the ability to administer and lead then dental hygiene suits your personality because dental hygienists have the freedom to work independently and using leadership skills at workplace. They are well aware to do their job in high standard with trust and great respect. Dental hygienists are not supervised all the time, instead they know how to carry the procedures independently and correctly. If any query arises, they never fear to answer the question appropriately.

4. Can’t be replaced by Technology

As you know allied health now continues to be in demand and having high worth in the medical line and medical sectors continuously needs allied health services because they truly understand how advanced healthcare technology has become. Dental health is a profession and the area that can not be replaced by technology in any condition because advanced technology only helps the dental hygienists to perform their work efficiently.

Institutes that offer Dental Hygiene Program in Pakistan

As you all are aware that dental hygienists are considered as an important part of medical health care or Dental team that help to prevent dental problems in both adults and children. In Pakistan,  now it has become an important aspect for the dental team. Many medical institutes offer this program to educate the students and prevent patients from oral hygiene. Dental hygienists work side-by-side with dentists. They also lead their team regarding oral health. The institutes that are offering dental hygiene degree in Pakistan are listed below:

InstituteDegree DurationCity
National paramedical CollegeDIP, 1 yearBhawalpur
DOW University of Health Sciences (DUHS)BS, 4 yearsKarachi
Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University (PIMS) BS, 2 yearsIslamabad
Zia-ud-Din Medical University AD, 2 yearsKarachi
College of Medical TechnologyDIP, 2 yearsMirpur
Agha Khan University (AKU)AAS, 2 years Karachi
Islamic International Dental College/hospitalAD, 2 yearsIslamabad
Institute of Health ManagementCERT, 4 years Islamabad
List of institutes offering Dental Hygiene degree in Pakistan

Institutes that are offering Dental Hygiene program in Abroad

Dental hygienists have their own worth and they are considered an important aspect of the dental team. Also in Pakistan, dental hygienists are considered as important in abroad to run the dental field and they have high scores due to their higher education, leadership skills, and more abilities. Besides this, they also have more job opportunities in medical health sectors with great salary packages. The colleges/institutes which offer dental hygiene program in abroad are:

Southern Illinois University Carbondale   USA
Queen Mary University of LondonUK
Central New Mexico Community CollegeUSA
Valencia CollegeUSA
George Brown CollegeCanada
CQ University Australia
Auckland University of TechnologyNew Zealand
List of institutes offering Dental Hygiene degree in Abroad

Dental Hygienist to Dentist

If you are dental hygienist and you are working in this filed with great practice skills so you can decide to remove the title of the hygienist and becoming a dentist. For doing this, the most common career path is to initiate after getting a bachelor’s degree in dental hygienist. Because with this degree you can easily apply in a four-year doctoral program from enhancing a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) and Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM). Some colleges or institutes need completion in biology, physics, chemistry, and English.

Suppose if you didn’t have a bachelor’s degree than firstly you may earn a completion program in 2 years. Most of the dental colleges offer doctoral programs that guarantee permission to earn bachelors when you are working towards a doctorate. This doctoral program takes six years to complete. But if you compare with your bachelor’s program and doctorate program than it will take eight years for completion.

 Then with a degree of DDS and DDM, you can easily earn a license and become independent to practice as a dentist.

Before you leave!

Dental hygiene degree provides the students with conceptual, therapeutic, and analytical education in dental hygiene. This course is designed for the students to obtain, examine, and amalgamate understanding of dental problems that allow the dental hygienist to deal with patients decently. The dental hygienist also works as researcher for developing new strategies, new future oral products, and methods to treat diseases. In a summarized way, dental hygienists have an important place in the medical field.