Dental Hygiene Schools and Education Programs in Kentucky

The Kentucky Occupational Employment Outlook recognizes the job of Dental Hygienist as being in the top ten jobs fastest growing jobs with the most annual openings. By the year 2020, the dental hygienist profession is expected to grow 34.91%, creating 90 new jobs annually.

The Kentucky Board of Dentistry is the state agency responsible for regulating dental hygienist job and licensure standards. To practice dental hygiene in Kentucky, you must first attain licensure.


How to become a Registered Dental Hygienist in Kentucky:

Earn a Minimum of an Associate’s Degree in Dental Hygiene
Pass National, Clinical, and Jurisprudence Examinations
Submit Licensure Application to Kentucky Board of Dentistry
Complete Continuing Education to Maintain Licensure



Step 1. Earn a Minimum of an Associate’s Degree in Dental Hygiene

Before you apply for licensure, you need to be a graduate of an American Dental Association (ADA) Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)-accredited dental hygiene program approved by the Kentucky Board.

There are currently five (5) CODA-accredited dental hygiene schools in Kentucky, which culminate in certificates, associate’s degrees, and bachelor’s degrees. In schools such as these, you will complete courses such as:

  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Nutrition
  • Biology of the Head and Neck
  • Dental Anatomy
  • Radiography
  • Dental Hygiene Theory
  • Dental Hygiene Principles of Practice
  • Microbiology
  • Physical Diagnosis and Medical Management
  • Preclinical Radiography
  • Oral Pathology
  • Pain and Anxiety Control
  • Community Dental Health

Along with a CODA-accredited dental hygiene degree, you must complete a Kentucky Cabinet of Health and Family Services (CHFS) approved dental hygiene HIV/AIDS course.

Approved courses may be taken at any of the following colleges:

  • Armstrong Atlantic State University
  • Big Sandy Community & Technical College
  • Bluegrass Community & Technical College
  • Henderson Community & Technical College
  • Lewis & Clark Community College
  • Santa Fe Community College
  • Shawnee State University
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Louisville
  • University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
  • University of Missouri – Kansas City
  • University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
  • Western Kentucky University
  • West Virginia University School of Dentistry
  • William Rainey Harper College, Palantine
  • Wytheville Community College



Step 2. Pass National, Clinical, and Jurisprudence Examinations

To apply for licensure, you must first pass a National, Regional, and Jurisprudence examination.

National Board Examination

Before you apply for licensure, you must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE), offered by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations.

You must be enrolled in or graduated from a CODA-accredited dental hygienist school in order to be eligible for this exam. To apply for this examination, complete the following steps:

  • Read and Agree to NBDHE Guide
  • Register for DENTPIN
  • Apply for Exam
  • Schedule a Time and Location to Take Exam

Once the application is processed, JCNDE will send you scheduling instructions through email or, if you have not provided an email, through the mail. If the instructions indicate a Pearson VUE is a testing center, you may test at the following locations in Kentucky:

  • Lexington, Kentucky
  • Louisville, Kentucky

Other testing centers located near Kentucky are located in the following cities:

  • Mason, Ohio
  • Moraine, Ohio
  • Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Johnson City, Tennessee
  • Charleston, West Virginia
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Indianapolis, Indiana

Regional Examination

These scores attained within five (5) years of your application for licensure. Scores older than five (5) years old will not be accepted. Kentucky allows you to choose to take the regional exam at any of the following testing centers:

Jurisprudence Examination

This exam is an open-book exam that you download from the Kentucky Board of Dentistry website. The exam focuses on Kentucky State Statues and Regulations. You must complete, sign, and mail the exam into the Board for grading at:

Kentucky Board of Dentistry
312 Whittington Parkway, Suite 101
Louisville, KY 40222
Phone: 502.429.7280



Step 3. Submit Licensure Application

When applying for licensure, you may choose to apply for licensure by examination or licensure by credentials. Licensure by examination will be the first choice for those who have never achieved dental hygienist licensure before. Those who have attained licensure in a different state and who have actively practiced may choose to apply for licensure by credentials.

Licensure by Examination

To submit an application for licensure by examination, follow these steps:

  • Submit verification of gradation from CODA-accredited dental hygiene school
  • Submit National Board Dental Hygiene Examination scores
  • Submit scores from one of the regional examinations
  • Complete Jurisprudence Exam
  • Complete Kentucky Cabinet of Health and Family Services (CHFS) approved HIV/AIDS course
  • Submit current CPR certification
  • Submit a criminal background check
  • Submit Application and $75-$125 fee

To complete the criminal background check, follow these guidelines:

  • Indicate on form that results must be mailed to the following address:

    Kentucky Board of Dentistry
    Attn: Shimada Hazley
    312 Whittington Pkwy, Suite 101
    Louisville, KY 40222

  • Take form to any local Sheriff, Police, or State Police Department
  • Give fingerprint
  • Mail the form, fingerprint card, and $18 fee to the following address:

    FBI CJIS Division – Record Request
    1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306

Licensure by Credentials

If you have attained licensure and practiced before as a dental hygienist, you will attain licensure through credentials. To attain licensure, complete all of the above steps for attaining licensure by examination, plus the following steps:

  • Submit proof of previously held licensure
  • Allow Board to obtain National Practitioner Data Bank Report and AADE Clearninghouse Report
  • Submit an affidavit stating that you have been legally practicing for at least five (5) of the past six (6) years.



Step 4. Complete Continuing Education

You must renew your license by December 31st on even numbered years. If you allow your license to lapse, reinstatement fees may be anywhere between $240-$630, depending on how long you go without renewing.

To renew your license, you must first complete continuing education. Effective as of 2010, dental hygienists are required to take thirty (30) credits of continuing education every two years with at least ten (10) hours being taken in a live interactive presentation format.

Courses must be directly related to clinical practice, and they may focus on the following concepts, though they are not limited to them:

  • Treating medically-compromised patients due to medical emergencies
  • Diagnosing oral pathology
  • Understanding pharmaceutical products
  • Infection Control
  • Medical and Scientific subjects
  • Clinical subjects
  • Technological subjects
  • Immunization

A maximum of ten (10) continuing education hours may be recorded through volunteering clinical charitable dentistry.

Documentation of continuing education must be completed for each course, and certificate documentation must contain the following information:

  • Signature of provider
  • Name of licensee
  • Title of course
  • Date of attendance
  • Number of hours earned
  • Evidence of method of delivery (if live, interactive presentation format)

After completing the online renewal application, you must print your renewed license online. It will not be mailed to you. To print the license online, make sure to do the following when prompted:

  • View Receipt
  • Finish and Print License
  • Download License and Wallet Card
  • Print License

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