Board Exam for Dental Hygienists

Upon graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program you will need to take a national dental hygiene board examination. To apply for your state licensure you must successfully complete the written National Board Dental Hygiene Examination. This test is administered by the American Dental Association's (ADA) Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE). These examinations are important to state boards in determining a student's ability to understand information such as basic biomedical and dental hygiene sciences and to use this information in a problem solving context. This national dental hygiene board exam is accepted in all states. This is just one step in your journey to become a licensed dental hygienist. You will also need to successfully complete the clinical portion of your board exam.

Dental Hygiene Clinical Exams

Clinical board examinations are administered by the region or state in which you wish to practice. These board exams consist of skill-specific patient treatment in a clinical setting. Dependent upon the test you will have to work on a patient's teeth; most require 6-8 teeth in different areas and with different surfaces. You must achieve at least a 75% on the exam to pass. On top of the clinical exam, some states require a restorative exam and a local anesthesia exam if you will be administering anesthesia. You can find a lot of helpful information from the American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA).

This is a list of 5 regional testing agencies; Western Regional Examining Board (WREB), Central Regional Dental Testing Service (CRDTS), Southern Regional Testing Agency (SRTA), Council of Interstate Testing Agencies (CITA), North East Regional Board of Dental Examiners (NERB). ADHA offers a map of the states and the exams that they accept.

State Licensing for Dental Hygienists

Once you have gone through the steps of graduating from an accredited dental hygiene program, completing the written national hygiene board exam and the clinical exam you are ready to apply for licensure. Since licensing requirements vary from state to state; you will need to contact each licensing authority in a given state for its specific application requirements and procedures. Some examples of additional requirements you might find are: proof of CPR certification, letters of recommendation, and official high school and college transcripts. State boards have the authority to deny a license to an applicant for disciplinary issues and/or persons convicted of a felony may also be refused licensure.

Once you are a licensed dental hygienist you will have a bright future ahead of you. Starting salaries for dental hygienist vary by location, but on average it is around $44,000. Some states like California and Alaska have a mean annual salary of over $90,000. With salaries like that in this current economy, dental hygiene is a healthcare field worth considering.