The Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners reports a total of 1,567 licensed dental hygienists working in Arkansas as of 2014. Of these, 1,273 dental hygienists in Arkansas possess local anesthesia permits.
The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services also reports that by 2018 there will be 1,807 dental hygienists licensed in the state, an increase of nearly 400 jobs in a four-year period.
If you want to practice dental hygiene in Arkansas, which involves patient screenings, taking and developing dental radiographs, removing calculus and plaque, and counseling patients about good nutrition and its role in good oral health, you must achieve licensure through the Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners.
To become a licensed dental hygienist in Arkansas, you must complete the following steps:
Step 1. Graduate from an Accredited Dental Hygiene Program
To qualify for licensure as a dental hygienist in Arkansas, you must first graduate from a state-approved program in dental hygiene. The program, which may result in an associate degree (the minimum degree for licensure) or a bachelor degree, must be accredited by the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) and approved by the Board.
Dental hygiene programs may be organized as:
- Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene
- Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene
- Associate of Arts in Dental Hygiene
- Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene
- Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
- Bachelor of Science in Allied Health
There are currently 2 CODA-accredited dental hygiene programs in Arkansas. You may also choose to complete a distance education program through an online institution, as there are a number of CODA-accredited online programs now in place.
An associate or bachelor degree in dental hygiene will consist of general education courses, general science and general dental science courses, as well as coursework in dental hygiene, which may include:
- Clinical periodontics
- Community dental health
- Dental health education and methods
- Ethics for the healthcare professional
- Oral health education
Step 2. Successfully Complete the National Board Examination for Dental Hygiene
A CODA-accredited program will prepare you to take the National Board Examination for Dental Hygiene (NBDH), a requirement for licensure in Arkansas. The NBDH is administered by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE), although you must apply to take the NBDH through the ADA.
The NBDH consists of two sections and 350 questions. The first section consists of questions regarding the scientific basis for dental hygiene practice, community health and research principles, and provision of clinical hygiene services, while the second part includes case-based scenarios for 12 to 15 dental hygiene patient cases.
You can take the NBDH through a Pearson VUE testing center located near you.
Step 3. Successfully Complete the Arkansas Clinical Dental Hygiene and Jurisprudence Examinations
Clinical Dental Hygiene Examination
Upon the successful completion of the National Board examination, you must take and pass the Arkansas clinical dental hygiene examination, which is administered through the Southern Regional Testing Agency (SRTA).
Arkansas is one of 9 states in the U.S. to use the SRTA examination for state licensure of dental hygienists.
You can learn more about the SRTA by viewing the Candidate Packet and the general information about the examination. The SRTA is designed to evaluate clinical judgment and performance. You must achieve a passing score of 75. Failure requires re-examination.
You can register to take the SRTA here and view a list of exam dates and locations here.
To become licensed as a dental hygienist in Arkansas, you must take and pass the Arkansas Jurisprudence Examination, an open-book examination that covers the Board’s Dental Practice Act and the Rules and Regulations of the Board. Upon receipt of your application for licensure as a dental hygienist, the Board will email you the jurisprudence examination for completion.
Step 4. Apply for Licensure as a Dental Hygienist in Arkansas
To qualify for dental hygienist licensure through the Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners you must complete the Application for License to Practice Dental Hygiene and complete the following (the application is designed to be filled out electronically):
- Enclose a fee of $100 (check or money order made payable to the Board of Dental Examiners)
- Sign the last page in the presence of a notary public
- Enclose a photograph taken within the last 6 months
- Request that your institution send the Board with an official transcript from your school of dental hygiene
- Make a copy of your diploma reflecting your graduation from a school of dental hygiene and send it with your application
- Request that JCNDE send your National Board card to the Board (JCNDE: 1-800-232-1694)
- Request that STRA send your clinical examination score directly to the Board
- Enclose a copy of your CPR certification
Note: As of 2011, all persons applying for a license must authorize the Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners to conduct a complete criminal background check. You will receive information from the Board regarding the background check once they receive your license application.
You may contact the Board with questions regarding your license application at 501-682-2085 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 5. Apply for a Local Anesthesia Permit, if Applicable
If you want to receive permission to administer local anesthesia, you must complete an Application for a Local Anesthesia Permit. Along with your completed application, you must include the following:
- Proof of the completion of an anesthesia course sponsored or held by an ADA-accredited dental hygiene school (may include a copy of certificate completion, the transcript from the school, or an original letter from the school)
- Copy of a current certificate of health provider level of basic life support
- An application fee of $25
Step 6. Renew your Dental Hygiene License
Dental hygienist licenses in Arkansas are renewed on January 1 of all even-numbered years.
The cost of renewal is $100.
Online renewal can be completed on the State Board of Dental Examiners’ website.
Continuing education information can be found through the Arkansas State Dental Hygienists Association.