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Top 10 Hygienist Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top certifications for hygienists, including requirements, benefits, and potential career paths.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 16 min read

Certifications are important for hygienists in the job market because they show potential employers that they have the necessary skills and knowledge required to perform their duties. Certifications also demonstrate a commitment to professional development, which can help hygienists stand out from the competition when applying for jobs. Additionally, certifications can often lead to higher salaries and career advancement opportunities. Finally, certain certifications may be required in order for hygienists to practice in certain states or countries.

The purpose of this article is to review the top certifications for hygienists and explain how they can help advance a hygienist's career.

What are Hygienist Certifications?

Hygienist certification is a professional credential that certifies the knowledge and skills of dental hygienists. It is awarded by professional organizations such as the American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA). Certification demonstrates that a dental hygienist has achieved a high level of proficiency in their field and has met certain educational, clinical and ethical standards.

Having a hygienist certification can help to advance one's career in the dental profession, as it can open up job opportunities both within and outside of the dental field. Employers may be more likely to hire someone with a certification, as it indicates that they possess advanced knowledge and are committed to continuing education in their field. A certified hygienist may also be eligible for higher salaries or better benefits than non-certified hygienists. Additionally, many states require hygienists to have some form of certification before they can practice.

Having a hygienist certification can also benefit patients, as it ensures that they are receiving care from qualified professionals who have demonstrated their commitment to providing quality care. Furthermore, certified hygienists may be able to provide additional services or treatments beyond those offered by non-certified practitioners.

Pro Tip: Make sure to stay up to date on the most current hygienist certification requirements in your state. Different states have different requirements, so make sure you are familiar with the regulations and standards in your area. Additionally, consider taking continuing education courses to ensure that you are up-to-date on the latest techniques and trends in hygiene.

Related: What does a Hygienist do?

Top 10 Hygienist Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Hygienists today.

1. Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH)

A Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) is a licensed dental professional who specializes in preventive oral health care. RDHs are responsible for providing preventative, educational and therapeutic services to help maintain the oral health of their patients. They typically work with dentists to provide comprehensive dental care.

In order to become an RDH, you must complete an accredited dental hygiene program and pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE). Most programs require two years of study, including classroom instruction and clinical experience. Upon successful completion of the program, you must then pass the NBDHE in order to be eligible for licensure.

The cost of becoming an RDH varies depending on where you attend school and what type of program you choose. Generally speaking, tuition costs range from $10,000 - $20,000 per year for a two-year program. In addition to tuition costs, students may also be required to purchase textbooks and other materials as well as pay fees associated with taking the NBDHE exam.

Overall, becoming an RDH requires a significant amount of time and money but can lead to a rewarding career in healthcare.

2. Certified Dental Hygienist (CDH)

A Certified Dental Hygienist (CDH) is a dental professional who has completed specialized training and passed an exam to become certified. They are responsible for providing preventive dental care, including teeth cleaning, fluoride treatments, sealants, and patient education. They also help diagnose oral health problems and provide treatment plans for patients.

To become a CDH, you must complete an accredited dental hygiene program at an accredited college or university and pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination administered by the American Dental Association (ADA). Depending on the program, it can take two to four years to complete the necessary coursework and clinical experience.

The cost of becoming a CDH varies depending on the school and program you choose. Generally speaking, tuition costs range from $15,000 to $30,000 per year. In addition to tuition costs, there may be additional fees for books, supplies, and other materials needed for the program.

Once you have successfully completed your program and passed your exams, you will need to apply for licensure in your state of residence. Each state has its own requirements for licensure; usually these include passing a criminal background check and completing continuing education courses throughout your career as a CDH.

3. Advanced Dental Hygiene Practitioner (ADHP)

Advanced Dental Hygiene Practitioner (ADHP) is a new professional designation that recognizes the highest level of clinical practice in dental hygiene. ADHPs are trained to provide comprehensive preventive and therapeutic services for patients, including scaling and root planing, periodontal maintenance, local anesthetic administration, and other advanced procedures.

To become an ADHP, individuals must complete a post-baccalaureate program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). These programs typically take two years to complete and include coursework in advanced dental hygiene theory and practice as well as clinical rotations. Upon completion of the program, graduates are eligible to sit for the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE). Those who pass this exam can then apply for licensure in their state of residence.

The cost of an ADHP program varies depending on the school or program chosen. Tuition costs range from around $30,000 to $50,000 for a two-year program. Additional expenses such as books and supplies may also be required.

4. Certified Clinical Dental Hygienist (CCDH)

A Certified Clinical Dental Hygienist (CCDH) is a dental hygienist who has met the requirements necessary to become certified by the American Board of Dental Examiners. The certification is voluntary and requires additional education and experience beyond the basic dental hygiene program. CCDHs are trained in advanced clinical skills such as periodontal therapy, local anesthesia administration, oral health risk assessment, and patient education.

The process of becoming a CCDH typically takes two years or more to complete. First, individuals must complete an accredited dental hygiene program that includes at least an associate’s degree in dental hygiene or equivalent. After graduating from the program, individuals must pass both written and clinical examinations administered by the American Board of Dental Examiners (ABDE). Once these exams are passed, individuals will be eligible for certification as a CCDH.

The cost of becoming a CCDH varies depending on the individual's educational background and experience level. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $2,000 - $4,000 to become certified. This cost includes tuition fees for any additional courses required to meet ABDE requirements as well as registration fees for the exams.

5. Certified Oral Health Educator (COHE)

A Certified Oral Health Educator (COHE) is a professional certification program designed to provide dental health professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively educate patients about oral health. The COHE program is administered by the American Dental Association (ADA).

The program consists of two parts: an online course and a practical examination. The online course covers topics such as patient assessment, communication, educational strategies, and evidence-based practice. Upon completion of the course, participants must pass a practical exam in order to become certified.

The cost of the COHE program varies depending on the provider; however, most programs cost between $200-$400. It typically takes 4-6 weeks to complete the online course and take the practical exam. To become certified, applicants must have an active dental license in their state or country and be in good standing with their licensing board.

6. Certified Preventive Dental Therapist (CPDT)

Certified Preventive Dental Therapist (CPDT) is a dental professional who has been certified by the American Board of Dental Examiners to provide preventive and therapeutic services to patients in a variety of settings. The CPDT focuses on preventing oral health problems through education, patient counseling, and the application of preventive treatments such as sealants, fluoride treatments, and other preventive measures.

It typically takes about two years to become a Certified Preventive Dental Therapist. During this time, individuals must complete an accredited dental hygiene program as well as additional coursework in preventive dental therapy. After completing the program, individuals must pass a written examination administered by the American Board of Dental Examiners in order to receive their certification.

In order to become a Certified Preventive Dental Therapist, individuals must first meet certain educational requirements. This includes completing an accredited dental hygiene program and additional coursework in preventive dental therapy. Once these requirements have been met, individuals can apply for certification with the American Board of Dental Examiners.

The cost of becoming a Certified Preventive Dental Therapist varies depending on the individual’s educational background and experience level. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $2,000-$4,000 for tuition and fees associated with the program. Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with taking the certification exam which could range from $100-$200 depending on location and other factors.

7. National Board of Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE)

The National Board of Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE) is a comprehensive exam designed to assess the knowledge, skills and abilities of dental hygienists. It is administered by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE). The NBDHE is composed of two parts: a written portion and a clinical portion.

The written portion consists of 200 multiple-choice questions that cover topics such as anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, nutrition, dental materials, periodontology, radiology and ethics. The clinical portion consists of 50 multiple-choice questions that cover topics such as patient assessment, instrumentation and treatment planning.

The NBDHE takes approximately four hours to complete. Candidates must register with the JCNDE in order to take the exam. Registration can be completed online or by mail. Once registered, candidates will receive an authorization letter with instructions on how to schedule their exam at a Prometric testing center.

The cost for taking the NBDHE is $400 USD. This fee includes both the written and clinical portions of the exam as well as any additional fees associated with registering for the exam or scheduling it at a Prometric testing center.

8. American Academy of Periodontology Certification Program (AAPCP)

The American Academy of Periodontology Certification Program (AAPCP) is a program designed to certify periodontists who have met the highest standards of excellence in their field. The program is administered by the American Academy of Periodontology and is open to all practicing periodontists who are members in good standing with the organization.

In order to be eligible for certification, applicants must meet certain educational and experience requirements, as well as pass a comprehensive written examination. The certification process typically takes approximately two years from start to finish.

To begin the process, applicants must first submit an application form, which includes information about their educational background and professional experience. Once accepted into the program, applicants will be required to complete all necessary coursework and attend an intensive review course prior to taking the written exam. Upon successful completion of the exam, applicants will receive their AAPCP certification.

The cost of obtaining AAPCP certification varies depending on individual circumstances but typically ranges from $2,000-$3,000 USD. This fee covers the cost of tuition, materials and exams fees associated with completing the program.

9. American Board of Pediatric Dentistry Certification Program (ABPDP)

The American Board of Pediatric Dentistry (ABPD) Certification Program is a voluntary program that evaluates and certifies pediatric dentists who have met the highest standards of professional competence. The program is designed to ensure that those who are certified possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to provide quality care to children.

It typically takes three years to complete the program. To begin the process, applicants must first earn a DDS or DMD degree from an accredited dental school and be licensed in the state where they practice. They must also complete two years of advanced training in pediatric dentistry, including a residency program accredited by either the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) or its equivalent.

Once these requirements are met, applicants can submit their application to ABPD for review. This includes providing evidence of their education and training as well as letters of recommendation from colleagues and supervisors. Once approved, applicants will need to pass an examination administered by ABPD before being awarded certification.

The cost for the ABPD Certification Program varies depending on individual circumstances but generally ranges between $2,500-$3,000 USD for application fees, exam fees, and other associated costs such as travel expenses.

10. American Association of Public Health Dentistry Certification Program (AAPHDCP)

The American Association of Public Health Dentistry Certification Program (AAPHDCP) is a voluntary certification program for public health dentists. It is designed to recognize the highest level of professional achievement and dedication in the field of public health dentistry. The program is open to all licensed dentists who have completed an accredited dental school program and are actively engaged in public health dentistry practice, research, or teaching.

The AAPHDCP requires applicants to demonstrate their knowledge and skills related to public health dentistry through a comprehensive written examination. The exam covers topics such as clinical practice, community-based prevention, epidemiology, ethics, health policy, oral health promotion, and research methods. Applicants must also submit evidence of their commitment to continuing education in the field of public health dentistry.

It typically takes three months to receive results from the AAPHDCP examination. Once an applicant has passed the exam and met all other requirements for certification, they will be awarded the title “Certified Public Health Dentist” (CPHD).

The cost of taking the AAPHDCP exam varies depending on whether you are a member or non-member of the American Association of Public Health Dentists (AAPHD). For members, it costs $375; for non-members it costs $475. These fees cover both the application fee and exam fee.

To apply for the AAPHDCP certification program you must first complete an online application form available on the AAPHD website. You will then need to submit proof of your active engagement in public health dentistry practice, research or teaching along with your application fee payment. Once your application has been approved by AAPHD staff you will be sent instructions on how to register for and take the written examination.

Do You Really Need a Hygienist Certificate?

The short answer is yes, if you want to work as a hygienist. A hygienist certificate is an important credential for anyone who wishes to pursue a career in the field of dental hygiene. It is also necessary for those who wish to teach or become involved in research related to dental hygiene.

Having a hygienist certificate demonstrates that you have the necessary knowledge and skills to perform the job correctly and safely. The certificate also serves as proof that you have completed the required education and training in order to become certified as a hygienist.

In order to obtain a hygienist certificate, one must complete an accredited program at an approved institution. This typically includes coursework in subjects such as anatomy, physiology, nutrition, preventive dentistry, dental materials science, pharmacology, radiology, and more. After successfully completing this program, students must then take and pass both written and practical examinations before being eligible for certification.

The importance of having a hygienist certificate cannot be underestimated. It serves as evidence that you are qualified for the job and can help ensure that your patients receive quality care from someone who is knowledgeable about their needs. Additionally, having a valid certificate may be beneficial when applying for jobs or advancing within the profession.

Overall, obtaining a hygienist certificate is essential if you wish to pursue a career in this field. It will not only demonstrate your qualifications but it will also provide assurance of your competence when providing services to patients.

Related: Hygienist Resume Examples

FAQs About Hygienist Certifications

1. What is a Hygienist Certification?

A Hygienist Certification is a professional credential issued by a governing body that certifies an individual has met the educational and experience requirements to practice as a dental hygienist.

2. What qualifications do I need to become certified?

To become certified, you must have completed an accredited dental hygiene program and pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination. In addition, some states may require additional testing or continuing education courses for certification.

3. How long does it take to get certified?

The amount of time it takes to get certified depends on the individual’s situation, such as how quickly they can complete their studies and exams. Generally, it takes about one year from completion of an accredited program to obtain certification.

4. How much does it cost to get certified?

The cost of getting certified varies depending on the state in which you are applying for certification and other factors. Generally, it costs around $100-$200 in fees related to application processing, taking the exam and certification renewal fees every two years.

5. Is certification required to practice as a dental hygienist?

Yes, all states require licensure or certification in order for individuals to practice as a dental hygienist in that state. The specific requirements may vary by state so make sure you check with your state board of dentistry for details on what is needed for licensure/certification in your area.

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