The Arizona Office of Employment and Population Statistics reported that a total of 3,724 dental hygienists worked in Arizona as of 2013. It is expected that by 2015, an estimated 255 new jobs will be created in the state, while another 164 dental hygienist jobs are expected to open up during this two-year period due to retirement.
The Office of Employment and Population Statistics also projects that by 2022 there will be 4,965 dental hygienist jobs in Arizona, a meteoric increase of 44 percent from 2012.
To become licensed as a dental hygienist through the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners (BODEX), follow these steps:
Step 1. Complete an Approved Dental Hygiene Program
The first step toward licensure as a dental hygienist in Arizona is the completion of a dental hygiene program that is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) and approved by the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners. CODA remains the sole accrediting body for dental hygienist programs in the U.S.; it is recognized by both the U.S. Department of Education and the American Dental Association (ADA).
To date, there are seven CODA-accredited dental hygiene programs in Arizona, six of which are offered at the associate degree level (A.S. or A.A.S.) and one of which is offered as a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene.
The minimum educational requirement to become licensed as a dental hygienist in Arizona is an associate’s degree, but pursuing a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene is quite common for dental hygienists seeking to advance their careers.
An associate degree in dental hygiene is generally about two years in duration, during which time students are expected to complete coursework in general education, basic sciences, dental sciences, and dental hygiene. The majority of dental hygiene programs result in a clinical rotation in a public setting.
The Association of Dental Hygienists (ADHA) recognizes both an associate and bachelor degree in dental hygiene as an “entry level” degree, while more advanced degrees at the master’s degree level are generally reserved for individuals with expectations of a career in teaching, administration, or research.
Step 2. Pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE)
Upon the successful completion of a CODA-accredited dental hygiene program, you will be eligible to sit for the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE), which is administered through the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations.
The NBDHE, which includes 350 questions, is designed to assess your knowledge of basic dental hygiene, including dental sciences, dental hygiene sciences, and biomedical sciences.
You can take the NBDHE at any one of the Pearson VUE testing centers throughout the United States. The cost of taking the NBDHE is $400. You must first apply through JCNDE to take the examination. If the JCNDE determines you have met the eligibility requirements, they will forward your application to Pearson VUE, who will then contact you via email regarding how to schedule your examination appointment.
You can learn more about taking the NBDHE here.
Step 3. Pass the Western Regional Examining Board (WREB) Clinical Examination
Upon the successful completion of the NBDHE, you must take and pass Arizona’s clinical examination for dental hygienists, the Western Regional Examining Board (WREB) examination.
Arizona is one of 19 states that recognize the WREB for dental hygienist licensure.
To apply to take the WREB, you must first identify an examination location, date, and time and apply through WREB using the appropriate link.
Questions regarding taking the WREB can be directed to email@example.com.
Step 4. Take the Arizona Jurisprudence Examination
Before you can become licensed in Arizona, you must take and pass a jurisprudence examination that covers Arizona’s revised statutes and Arizona administrative code regarding the governing of dental hygienists, dentists, dental assistants, and denturists.
The jurisprudence examination can be taken at the Board’s office once a month. The cost of this open-book examination is $100. You may also take the jurisprudence examination online for an additional fee of $35.
Step 5. Apply for a Dental Hygienist License in Arizona
To apply for a dental hygienist license through the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners, you must:
- Complete the Application for Licensure by Examination and sign it in the presence of a notary public.
- Attach a passport-size photograph to the application.
- Submit a photocopy of your scorecard from the WREB clinical examination. (The examination date must be within 5 years of the date your application is filed with the Board.)
- Request your National Board scores to be sent directly to the Board office.
- Submit a photocopy of your current CPR certification.
- Request a copy of your dental hygiene educational program transcript to be sent directly to the Board from the institution (must be an official transcript).
- Submit a letter of endorsement from your dental hygiene school if you are a recent graduate or have been practicing for less than 6 months.
- Submit a credential fee in the amount of $1,000.
Step 6. Maintain your Dental Hygienist License
Dental hygienist licenses must be renewed every 3 years upon the completion of at least 54 credit hours of recognized continuing education and payment of the $300 triennial license fee. Requirements for continuing education include:
- At least 34 credit hours must be in one or more of the following areas:
- Dental and medical health
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
- Dental hygiene services
- Periodontal disease
- Care of implants
- Maintenance of cosmetic restorations and sealants
- Radiology safety and techniques
- Managing medical emergencies
- New concepts in dental hygiene
- No more than 14 credit hours in one or more of the following areas:
- Dental hygiene practice organization and management
- Patient management skills
- Methods of healthcare delivery
- At least 2 credit hours must be in one or more of the following areas:
- Chemical dependency
- Tobacco cessation
- Risk management
- At least 4 credit hours must be in infectious diseases and infectious disease control