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Dental Hygiene Schools and Education Programs in Utah

The Utah Occupational Report for Dental Hygienists gives this career a five-out-of-five star rating for the period from 2012 to 2022. According to the state’s system of classification, this means the field of dental hygiene has the strongest employment outlook coupled with high wages.

Dental hygienists are required to have a license to practice in Utah, and must apply for this from the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing.

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To be eligible for a dental hygienist license in Utah you will need to navigate the following steps:

Graduate from an Approved Dental Hygienist Schools
Pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE)
Pass a Dental Hygienist Clinical Examination from an Approved Provider
Apply for a Dental Hygienist License with the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing
Maintain Your Dental Hygienist License in Utah

 


 

Step 1. Graduate from an Approved Dental Hygienist School

The first step to become a dental hygienist in Utah is education. All prospective dental hygienists must graduate from a dental hygiene education program in Utah or out-of-state that is approved by the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).

There are currently six dental hygiene schools in Utah that are accredited by CODA, located in:

  • Ogden
  • Orem
  • Salt Lake City
  • Saint George
  • West Jordan

Dental hygiene education programs are often at the associate’s-of-science (AS) or associate’s-of-applied-science (AAS) levels and involve an extensive two-year course load that can include prerequisites. Before you delve into specific dental hygiene courses you will need to complete prerequisite courses such as:

  • Basic chemistry and biology
  • English, communication, psychology, and sociology
  • Microbiology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Intermediate algebra and pre-calculus

In a two-year dental hygiene program you can expect to take a majority of courses that focus specifically on the skills needed in the dental hygiene field once you complete your prerequisites:

  • Dental hygiene theory
  • Dental radiology
  • Dental materials and tools
  • Neck and head anatomy
  • Dental anatomy and tooth morphology
  • Dental histology and embriology
  • Pharmacology
  • General and oral pathology
  • Local anesthesia
  • Community health
  • Periodontology
  • Dental practice management
  • Clinical dental hygiene

Utah allows new dental hygienists to administer local anesthesia if they have completed a course that focuses on this subject as part of their approved dental hygiene education program. When choosing a program you may wish to keep this in mind.

 


 

Step 2. Pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE)

You will become eligible to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE) as you near the completion of your CODA-approved dental hygiene program. Sponsored by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE), the NBDHE outline indicates that you will be tested on 350 multiple-choice items taken from the following subject areas:

  • Professional ethics and responsibility
  • Obtaining and interpreting radiographs
  • Supportive care and treatment
  • Preventative care and agents
  • Performance of periodontal procedures
  • Patient intake and assessment
  • Supportive treatment procedures
  • Community health and research principles

You can register to take the NBDHE at locations throughout the United States, including three testing centers in Utah:

  • Draper
  • Bountiful
  • Ogden

 


 

Step 3. Pass an Approved Regional Clinical Examination

In addition to the NBDHE national test you will also need to pass an approved clinical examination. You have several choices for which exam to take, as any of the dental hygienist exams offered by the following organizations will fulfill this requirement:

Although each of these clinical exams is individually different, common subject areas are evaluated such as:

  • Making a full and complete oral assessment
  • Supra-gingival calculus and deposit removal
  • Sub-gingival scaling and calculus removal
  • Periodontal probing and examination
  • Exposing radiographs
  • Oral prophylaxis

Option to Administer Local Anesthesia

The dental hygienist job description in Utah allows for the option to administer local anesthesia. If you are a new applicant and are interested in this permission you will need to complete a test for the administration of local anesthesia from one of these regional clinical examination agencies.

If you are an out-of-state applicant you need only submit proof with your application for licensure that you have had the authority to administer local anesthesia in your state of practice.

 


 

Step 4. Apply for a Dental Hygienist License with the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing

The Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing is responsible for evaluating your credentials and issuing you a license that will allow you to practice in the state as a dental hygienist. Once you have met the qualifications up to this point you will need to submit the following to the Division whether you are a new applicant or an experienced out-of-state dental hygienist:

  • Completed Application for Licensure as a Dental Hygienist
  • $60 application fee
  • Copy of a current CPR or Basic Cardiac Life Support certification – this must be obtained from a hands-on course
  • NBDHE exam results – you must request the JCNDE to release these to the Division
  • Regional clinical exam results – you must request the appropriate agency to release your scores to the Division

First-Time Applicants

In addition to the above, if you are a new applicant you will need to submit the following:

  • Official transcripts from an approved dental hygiene education program
  • An official letter from your approved dental hygienist education program’s anesthesia course director stating completion of a course in anesthesia, if your program included this and if you want to apply for permission to administer local anesthesia

Experienced Out-of-State Applicants

If you are an out-of-state candidate who is a licensed dental hygienist in a different state you will need to submit the following additional material:

  • Proof that you have had the authority to administer local anesthesia in your home state of practice, if you are applying for this permission
  • Verification that you have practiced as a dental hygienist during the past two years for at least 2,000 hours
  • Official verification of your out-of-state licensure

Option to Upgrade a License to Administer Anesthesia

You will notice that on the application you have the option of applying for permission to administer local anesthesia. If your approved dental hygiene school program included a course dealing with this subject then you can apply for this permission with your initial application for licensure. If your academic program did not include such a course, you can complete one at a later date and then submit an application for a local anesthesia endorsement to obtain this permission.

 


 

Step 5. Maintain Your Dental Hygienist License in Utah

Your dental hygienist license expires every two years. During this cycle you will need to complete at least 30 hours of continuing education that adheres to the following standards:

  • It must be relevant to your practice as a dental hygienist
  • It may be approved by any of the following:
  • Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing
  • Recognized colleges and universities
  • Professional associations such as the American Dental Association

In some cases there are limits on the types of continuing education you can obtain every two years:

  • Up to 10 hours may be earned through the teaching of continuing education
  • Up to 15 hours may be earned through internet and home-study courses
  • Up to 6 hours may be earned through Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing courses
  • Up to 3 hours may be earned in the subject of practice and office management

In addition to the professional organizations already mentioned, you can also find information about continuing education and professional development through the Utah Dental Hygienists’ Association (UDHA).

To maintain your license you will also need to keep your CPR or BLS certification current, and doing this does not count towards the fulfillment of continuing education.

The outlook for dental hygienist jobs in Utah is almost a full percentage point above the US national average. Of all the metropolitan areas in the nation, Saint George has the second-highest concentration of dental hygienist, with additionally elevated numbers for Salt Lake City and the state’s other cities. The following figures are the projected employment statistics in Utah for the period from 2012 to 2022:

  • Bear River – 3.2 percent annual increase
  • Eastern Utah – 3.8 percent annual increase
  • Ogden-Clearfield metro area – 3.5 percent annual increase
  • Provo-Orem metro area – 5.9 percent annual increase
  • Salt Lake City metro area – 3.5 percent annual increase
  • Southwest Utah – 4.0 percent annual increase
  • Saint George metro area – 4.6 percent annual increase
  • Utah statewide – 4.1 percent annual increase
  • United States – 3.3 percent annual increase nationwide

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