The Alabama Department of Labor named dental hygienists among its list of “Alabama’s Hot 40 Demand Occupations,” with an annual growth rate of 3.68 percent expected between 2010 and 2020. The Department of Labor reports that 195 new dental hygienist jobs will become available each year in Alabama on average.
Dental hygienists in Alabama are licensed oral health professionals who are responsible for providing educational, preventive, and clinical therapeutic services.
If you want to take advantage of job growth in the field of dental hygiene in Alabama, follow these steps to becoming licensed through the Alabama Board of Dental Examiners:
|Complete an Accredited Dental Hygiene Program|
|Pass the Alabama Dental Hygiene Board Examination|
|Apply for Licensure as a Dental Hygienist in Alabama|
|Maintain your Dental Hygienist License|
Step 1. Complete an Accredited Dental Hygiene Program
To become a licensed dental hygienist in Alabama, you may take one of two pathways:
1. Complete an associate or bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene from an accredited dental hygiene program.
To become a dental hygienist in Alabama, you must pursue an educational program in dental hygiene, which includes completing either an associate or bachelor degree in dental hygiene that has been accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), the only accrediting body for dental hygiene programs in the U.S. In Alabama, there are two CODA-accredited programs.
An associate’s degree in dental hygiene in Alabama, which is about two years in duration, prepares you to sit for the state licensure examination and work as an entry-level hygienist.
Although bachelor’s degrees in dental hygiene are not required for licensure as a dental hygienist, it is commonplace for dental hygienists to seek more advanced degrees, particularly to advance their careers.
2. Meet the Minimum Requirements to Enroll in the Alabama Dental Hygiene Program (ADHP)
If you are a practicing dental assistant in Alabama, you may qualify to become licensed as a dental hygienist through the completion of the Alabama Dental Hygiene Program (ADHP).
To qualify to take the ADHP, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be a high school graduate or hold a GED certificate
- Possess at least 24 months of full-time employment as a dental assistant
- Be employed full-time during the effective period of the training permit
- Practice only under the direct supervision of the dentist whose name appears on the training permit
The ADHP includes dental hygiene instructional sessions that are given at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. If student hygienists fail to attend all sessions of academic instruction, they are no longer eligible for a renewal training permit. Dentists are only permitted to train one student hygienist at a time.
Student hygienists who obtain training in the ADHP must pay a $700 fee to the board, which includes the training permit, the examination fee, and certificate and workshop fees.
To complete the ADHP application process, individuals must complete the entire Alabama Dental Hygiene Program Application, complete all questions of the pre-entrance examination, and complete the following:
- Enclose two passport photographs
- Notarize the application
- Enclose a $700 check or money order (made payable to the Board of Dental Examiners)
- Enclose an official high school transcript
- Enclose copies of:
- Hepatitis vaccine status
- CPR certification
- Infection control certificate
- Proof of residency in Alabama
Questions regarding the application process can be directed to the Board at 205-985-7267. Additional information regarding the ADHP program can be found here.
Step 2. Pass the Alabama Dental Hygiene Board Examination
Upon completion of a dental hygiene associate’s degree program or the ADHP, you must sit for the Alabama Dental Hygiene Board (American Board of Dental Examiners – ADEX) exam, which also includes a written jurisprudence examination (includes questions about the Alabama Dental practice Act).
Note: Alabama is the only state in the U.S. that does not require graduates to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination through the ADA.
The Alabama Dental Hygiene Board exam is administered by the Council of Interstate Testing Agencies (CITA). More information on CITA’s American Board of Dental Examiners (ADEX) Dental Hygiene examination can be found here. General information about the examination can be found here.
CITA administers the dental hygiene examination at the University of Alabama School of Dentistry in Birmingham and other locations across the U.S.
To be eligible to take the Alabama Dental Hygiene Board exam, you must complete the Alabama Dental Hygiene Board Exam Licensure Application and submit it to the Board of Dental Examiners for licensure (see step 3).
You can direct any questions regarding the examination for licensure to Sonya Lankford at the Board of Dental Examiners at 205-985-7267 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 3. Apply for Licensure as a Dental Hygienist in Alabama
Before taking the Alabama Dental Hygiene Board examination, you must apply for licensure as a dental hygienist in Alabama. In addition to a completed Alabama Dental Hygiene Board Exam Licensure Application, you must include:
- Licensure fee of $50 (made payable to the Board of Dental Examiners)
- One 2×2 passport photograph
- Documentation of the Hepatitis B immunizations
- Documentation of current CPR status
- Documentation of at least two hours of infection disease training within the last 2 years
- Official transcripts from your dental hygiene program (ADHP students are exempt)
Step 4. Maintain your Dental Hygienist License
Dental hygienist licenses in Alabama must be renewed annually on October 1 upon the completion of at least 12 continuing education hours. Continuing education requirements include:
- Up to 6 hours can be taken online or through correspondence
- Up to 4 hours can be taken on courses covering government regulations, tort liability, risk management, and/or insurance
- Up to 6 hours can be taken on restorative dentistry
- Up to 4 hours are allowed for pro bono charitable work at nonprofit clinics in Alabama
- Up to 2 hours every year must be taken in infection control as related to dentistry
The Alabama Dental Hygienists Association may serve as a good source for continuing education.