Dental hygienists in Maryland are licensed through the Maryland Board of Dental Examiners and are authorized to perform many of the procedures that have been historically performed by licensed dentists. These procedures include cleaning and polishing teeth, taking x-rays, and explaining oral hygiene to patients.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2013 the average annual salary for a dental hygienist in Maryland was $80,490, which is one of the highest average salaries in the nation for this field.
If you wish to become a dental hygienist in Maryland, follow these steps:
|Complete a Dental Hygiene Education Program in Maryland|
|Pass the All the Necessary Examinations|
|Apply for Dental Hygiene Licensure in Maryland|
|Maintain Your License Through Continuing Education in Maryland|
Step 1. Complete a Dental Hygiene Education Program in Maryland
Your first task on the route to becoming a dental hygienist in Maryland is to complete a dental hygiene education program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) of the American Dental Association (ADA). According to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA), the following dental hygiene education programs are currently accredited in Maryland:
Seven Entry-level programs: These programs are designed for applicants who hold a high school diploma or GED and no experience. Programs typically culminate in an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Dental Hygiene. Currently, these types of programs in Maryland are located in:
In addition to the CODA-accredited entry-level programs, the following types of dental hygiene education programs are also available in Maryland to qualified dental hygienists:
Degree-completion programs: These types of programs are designed for those who already hold an associate’s degree and wish to complete the requirements for a Bachelor of Science degree in Dental Hygiene. Currently, Maryland has one such program, in Baltimore.
Masters programs: These programs are designed for dental hygienists who already hold a bachelor’s degree and wish to complete the requirements for a Master of Science degree in Dental Hygiene. Currently, Maryland has one such program, in Baltimore
Before enrolling in an entry-level dental hygiene education program in Maryland, you should realize that admission to such programs is quite competitive. Admissions officials at Maryland dental hygiene education programs are looking for candidates with good high school grade point averages, particularly in mathematics and science courses. Some may require letters of recommendation from professionals in the community who have known you a long time and are familiar with your work ethic.
Most entry-level associate degree dental hygiene programs consist of an average of 70 credit hours, made up of both general education and dental hygiene courses. The courses that you will encounter in an entry-level dental hygiene education program will carry titles such as:
- Introduction to dental health
- Dental hygiene techniques
- Oral anatomy
- Dental materials
- Dental histology and embryology
- Clinical dental hygiene
- Dental office management, jurisprudence and ethics
- Oral pathology
- Community dental health education
- Private practice preparation
Additionally, you will participate in a clinical practicum as part of your dental hygiene education program. During this practicum, you will be placed into a real-life setting in which you will put the skills and techniques you have learned thus far to work. Your dental hygiene skills will be evaluated by a licensed dental hygienist or licensed dentist under whose supervision you will work. This is also the perfect time to begin cultivating professional contacts for your post-graduation job search.
Don’t forget, all dental hygienists in Maryland must be certified in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and you must maintain this certification through the lifespan of your license. Certification may be obtained through:
- American Heart Association’s Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers
- American Red Cross’s Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation for Professional Rescuers
- An equivalent program that is Board-approved
Step 2. Pass the All the Necessary Examinations
Once you have completed the requirements for your associate degree dental hygiene program in Maryland, you are ready to take the necessary examinations for licensure by the Maryland State Board of Dental Examiners. There are two types of exams you must pass: written and clinical. First, you must pass the written examination: the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE) of the American Dental Association’s Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations. Begin the application process online.
Review the NBDHE guide provided by the JCNDE. The NBDHE is a computerized examination consisting of 350 multiple-choice questions. The first part of the exam, Component A, tests your knowledge of the following areas:
- Scientific basis for dental hygiene practice
- Provision of clinical dental hygiene services
- Community health/research principles
Component B refers to 15 dental hygiene patient cases, and consists of 150 questions based upon those cases. Patient types included in this part of the exam include pediatric, geriatric, special needs, adult periodontal, and medically compromised.
Exams are administered at Pearson Vue testing centers, which in Maryland, may be found in:
Next comes the clinical examination: the American Board of Dental Examiners, Inc. Dental Hygiene Examination. This intensive examination is a clinical, patient-based exam focusing on:
- Patient assessment
- Plaque/stain removal
- Pocket depth measurements
The exam consists of two parts:
- Computer Simulated Clinical Examination (CSCE) – computer based and given at Prometric Testing Centers in:
- Patient Treatment Clinical Examination (PTCS) that is four hours long and scheduled at a clinical exam site through the North East Regional Board (NERB), including:
- Allegany College of Maryland in Cumberland
- University of Maryland at Baltimore
- Community College of Baltimore County in Baltimore
- Baltimore City Community College in Baltimore
Step 3. Apply for Dental Hygiene Licensure in Maryland
After passing the national board and clinical examinations, you are ready to apply for licensure as a dental hygienist in Maryland. Download the Dental Hygienist by NERB Examination Application at the Maryland Dental Board website. Be sure to complete the application in its entirety and include:
- Have your original National Board score card forwarded to the Maryland State Board of Dental Examiners
- Enclose your certified NERB ADEX exam report
- $275 fee via check or money order payable to Maryland State Board of Dental Examiners
- Passport-sized recent photo of yourself, notarized on the back
- Copy of your dental hygiene school diploma or certified letter or transcript from school
- Certified letters from every state in which you have held a license, if applicable
- Documentation of legal name change, if applicable
- Maryland State Jurisprudence Exam and notarized affidavit, along with a $50 check/money order payable to Maryland State Board of Dental Examiners
Mail all of the above to Maryland State Board of Dental Examiners, Spring Grove Hospital Center, Benjamin Rush Building, 55 Wade Ave/Tulip Drive, Catonsville, MD 21228. You will be notified if your application is incomplete, and mailed your dental hygienist license when approved.
Step 4. Maintain Your License Through Continuing Education in Maryland
Congratulations! Your hard work and tenacity has paid off, and you are now a licensed dental hygienist in Maryland! Make sure to keep your license valid through the proper channels. Licenses renew yearly through completion of the Dental Hygienist License Renewal form. A $182 renewal fee must be paid, and the following continuing education must be completed during each renewal period in order to maintain your Maryland license:
- 30 hours of continuing education, including 2 hours of infection control
- Only 17 of the 30 hours may be obtained through home study or online courses
- All licensed dental hygienists in Maryland must also complete a 2 hour Board-approved course on Maryland law relating to abuse and neglect
If you have obtained your license within six months of graduating from an accredited dental hygienist education program, you need not fulfill the continuing education requirements for the first renewal period after initial licensure.
You might also want to consider becoming a member of the Maryland Dental Hygienists Association. This state-based professional association provides continuing education opportunities, the latest news on the profession, and networking opportunities for dental professionals in Maryland.