According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1,490 dental hygienists employed in the state of Oklahoma as of 2013. The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission projects an estimated 22% rise in employment opportunities for healthcare professionals between 2012 and 2022. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that the average annual salary for dental hygienists in Oklahoma is $45,000.
As a dental hygienist in Oklahoma, you will actively particulate in patient care and education. Dental hygienists also participate in research and community service, including rural health initiatives. You will most likely have the opportunity to work chairside, as well as in practice management, and will be at the forefront of helping to improve the overall health of Oklahomans.
You must obtain dental hygienist licensing through the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry. The steps required in the licensing process are as follows:
|Attend an Accredited Dental Hygiene School
|Take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination
|Take the Western Regional Examining Board Examination
|Complete the Application
|Complete Continuing Education to Maintain Licensure
Step 1. Attend a CODA-Accredited Dental Hygiene School
In order to become a dental hygienist in the state of Oklahoma, you must obtain at least an associate’s degree from a dental hygiene school accredited by the Commission of Dental Accreditation (CODA). There are three Coda-accredited schools in Oklahoma offering both associate’s and bachelor’s programs in the cities of Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
Dental hygiene schools in Oklahoma focus on both classroom-based learning and experiential education in order to prepare dental hygienists. Many dental hygiene schools also prepare students for certification in advanced procedures that are legal for dental hygienists to perform in the state of Oklahoma.
Most programs require some prerequisite coursework. This might include:
- Freshman Composition
- Behavioral and social sciences
Many of these prerequisites can be fulfilled on a part-time basis with courses offered in the evening or through correspondence. Examples of dental hygiene coursework include:
- Dental Hygiene Theory
- Dental and Oral Anatomy
- Pathology, Etiology, and Immunology
- Dental Materials
- Dental Practice Management
- Dental Community Health
Step 2. Take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination
The Joint Commission on National Dental Examiners sponsors the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination. This exam is a required part of the licensing process in the state of Oklahoma. The examination serves to assist the Oklahoma State Board of Dentistry in determining your preparedness for a dental hygienist job.
The National Board Dental Hygiene Examination is administered at Pearson VUE test centers. There are several test centers in Oklahoma, including those in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. The testing fee is $400 and includes official test reporting to you and three dental jurisdictions.
You must obtain a DENTAPIN through the American Dental Association in order to register for the examination.
Step 3. Take the Western Regional Examining Board Examination
If you are applying for a dental hygienist license in Oklahoma, you will also be required to take a clinical examination through the Western Regional Examining Board (WREB). This national dental hygiene testing agency offers the test once a year in Oklahoma City. You will be required to register for the test at least a month prior. You can apply for the WREB Examination online.
The cost to take the WREB examination at an Oklahoma site is $765. The examination will include a dental hygiene clinical portion, as well as a written portion on the dental hygiene process of care.
Step 4. Complete the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry Application
Once you have taken your examinations, you will be required to submit a dental hygienist licensing application packet to the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry. All materials of the application packet must be submitted together, and include the following:
- Completed application form
- $100 nonrefundable application fee
- The original or certified copy of the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination test scores
- Proof of completion of the Western Regional Examining Board
- Copy of transcripts from an accredited dental hygiene school
- 3 letters of recommendation
- Proof a citizenship
- A 2×2 recent color photo
Applications must be submitted 30 days prior to an Oklahoma Board of Dentistry meeting. Meeting dates are posted on Oklahoma Board of Dentistry website.
Step 5. Complete Continuing Education to Maintain Licensure
As a Dental hygienist in Oklahoma, you will also be required to complete continuing education courses in order to renew your license periodically. You will be responsible for documenting this continuing education coursework and submitting proof to the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry. You can submit this information through an online system.
There are several categories available for continuing education opportunities:
- Learning sessions at colleges or universities
- Meetings sponsored by professional organizations, including the Oklahoma Dental Hygienists Association
- Self-instructional programs
- Volunteer service
- Advanced study
- Courses related to practice management