Dental Hygienist Certification and Certificate Programs

Research dental hygienist certification and certificate programs. Get information about courses, licensing options, requirements and salary to make an informed decision about your education.

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Essential Information

Dental hygienist certificate programs are offered at community colleges, universities, technical schools and colleges, and they are accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Students learn about proper oral care and how to clean teeth and identify oral diseases. These programs balance classroom education with clinical practice. Students typically complete the program in 2-3 years, after which they may be eligible to sit for licensing exams.

Educational Prerequisites

A high school diploma or its equivalent is generally required for admission into a certificate program. Additionally, some programs require students to take general education classes that include basic sciences prior to admission.

Course Topics

Dentistry courses are based on sciences and health, and the practical education component takes place in laboratories and general and specialty dental clinics. Common class topics include:

  • Dental materials
  • Clinical periodontics
  • Oral and dental anatomy
  • Oral pathology
  • Microbiology
  • Community oral health
  • Nutrition
  • Dental radiology
  • Clinical and dental hygiene
  • Dental ethics

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the employment rate for dental hygienists is expected to grow rapidly, at a projected rate of 36% between 2008 and 2018. This above average growth rate is due to more people getting preventive dental care. Job prospects for qualified hygienists will be strong overall, but some variance will occur based on location. According to 2011 BLS statistics, the mean salary for dental hygienists was $69,760. This includes the 51% of dental hygienists who work part-time and often work at more than one dental office.

Licensing and Continuing Education Information

All 50 states require dental hygienists to be registered or licensed, according to the American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA). While each state sets its own licensing requirements, the American Dental Association (ADA) said that all states typically require applicants to have sufficient education and pass a written and practical exam. Continuing education may be required for license renewal.

The BLS reported that advanced career opportunities are possible for dental hygienists and usually require a bachelor's or master's degree in the field. Bachelor's programs introduce advanced clinical care with topics covering public health planning and management. Individuals who want to pursue management, research or academia jobs can consider earning a master's degree in dental hygiene.

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