The field of dental hygiene in Wyoming is projected to grow by 36 percent in the years leading up to 2016. This faster-than-average increase is just one of the reasons more Wyoming residents are turning towards a career in dental hygiene. Each of the state’s 450 professionals in this field has completed a licensure process with the Wyoming Board of Dental Examiners.
Preparing for a new career as a dental hygienist in Wyoming will mean completing the following steps:
Step 1. Earn a Dental Hygiene Degree from an Approved School
A solid educational foundation in the field of dental hygiene is the first requirement you will encounter in your new career path. Anyone who wants to become a dental hygienist in Wyoming will need to earn a degree in this field from a school that is accredited by the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). There are two such dental hygiene schools in Wyoming, located in Cheyenne and Sheridan.
The dental hygiene education programs in Wyoming offer the following degrees, both of which will fulfill the state requirements for licensure:
- Associate’s of Science Degree in Dental Hygiene
- Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Dental Hygiene
As a new student in one of these programs you can expect to begin by taking prerequisite courses:
- English composition
- Sociological principles
- Introduction to chemistry
- Mathematics problem solving
- Anatomy and physiology
- Human physiology
- American and Wyoming government and history
- Medical and pathogenic microbiology
Moving into your area of concentration, you will start taking courses that deal specifically with aspects of dental hygiene:
- Dental materials
- Oral, head, and neck anatomy
- Dental radiology
- Dental public health
- Pain management
- Dental hygiene seminar
- Dental hygiene clinical
Step 2. Consider Obtaining Permission for Expanded Dental Duties
As you complete your CODA-approved education you may also consider taking courses that will fulfill the requirements for optional expanded dental duties. These are non-required additions you can add to your repertoire of skills as a dental hygienist:
- Administration of local anesthesia and/or nitrous oxide
- Pit and fissure sealants
- Use of lasers for soft tissue therapy – also requires you to become certified through the Academy of Laser Dentistry
To obtain permission in each of these expanded duties you will need to complete a course of academic instruction in the specific subject area that culminates with a final exam. After completion of an approved course and exam you may be required to attend an in-person evaluation with a member of the Board.
Step 3. Find Your Route of Eligibility for a Wyoming Dental Hygienist License
There are three basic routes to being eligible for a dental hygienist license in Wyoming:
- New graduates who have completed their CODA-approved program in the past 12 months
- Experienced dental hygienists who are already licensed in another state
- Alternative candidates who completed their CODA-approved program more than 12 months ago
If you completed your CODA-approved program within the past 12 months you will need to complete the following additional requirements to be eligible for licensure in Wyoming:
- Pass an approved clinical dental hygiene examination, detailed in Step 3
- Pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE):
- Administered by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE)
- Exam content made up of 350 multiple-choice questions covering the theory and practice of dental hygiene
- Offered at a testing center in Casper
Experienced Out-of-State Dental Hygienists
If this describes your background then your route to eligibility for licensure in Wyoming will require the following:
- Proof that you have practiced at least 800 clinical hours as a dental hygienist in the past 12 months
- Must not have any pending or outstanding disciplinary or malpractice action
If you graduated from a CODA-approved dental hygiene program more than 12 months ago then you may qualify for licensure in Wyoming via this route. To do this you must meet one of the following requirements:
- You have had at least 10 hours of clinical continuing education in the field of dental hygiene within the past 12 months and passed an approved dental hygiene clinical exam more than one year ago
- You have passed a clinical dental hygiene exam in the past 12 months
Step 4. Pass an Approved Dental Hygienist Clinical Exam if Needed
The Wyoming Board of Dental Examiners recognizes the clinical dental hygiene exams administered by the following regional testing agencies:
- Western Regional Examining Board (WREB)
- Central Regional Dental Testing Service (CRDTS)
- Commission on Dental Competency Assessments (CDCA)
- Southern Regional Testing Agency (SRTA)
- Council of Interstate Testing Agencies (CITA)
State-sponsored clinical exams may be accepted in place of exams offered by regional agencies if you have already taken one of these.
A typical clinical exam will take place in a clinical setting with you, a patient, and an evaluator. As part of the evaluation you may be required to:
- Perform an oral assessment and cleaning on the patient
- Take depth measurements of the patient’s dental pockets
- Expose and interpret radiographs
- Remove calculus, plaque, and stains
Step 5. Apply for a Dental Hygienist License with the Wyoming Board of Dental Examiners
One final requirement you must fulfill before being eligible for licensure is the retention of a CPR or Basic Life Support (BLS) certification. You must obtain this from an agency that is approved by the Wyoming Board of Dental Examiners, such as:
To apply for a dental hygienist license in Wyoming all candidates will need to submit any test scores, verifications, or other official documents that demonstrate completion of a particular route to licensure eligibility. Along with these, all candidates must also submit the following:
- Application Packet for Licensure as a Dental Hygienist
- Proof of completion of a CODA-approved dental hygienist school
- Proof of a current and approved CPR/BLS certification
- Six references – three personal and three dental
Included in the application packet is the option for you to apply for authorization to administer local anesthesia and/or nitrous oxide analgesia. You may also apply for these permissions at a later time.
How to Submit Your Exam
If you are a new graduate you can submit your application materials to the Wyoming Board of Dental Examiners at their office in Cheyenne.
If you are an experienced out-of-state applicant or an alternative applicant you will need to submit all your application materials to Professional Background Information Services (PBIS). The Wyoming Board of Dental Examiners contracts the application process for out-of-state and alternative applicants to this third-party agency. Once PBIS has received your application materials and deems your application to be complete it will notify the Wyoming Board of Dental Examiners.
Wyoming Jurisprudence Exam
After you submit your application and accompanying documents the Board of Dental Examiners will determine whether or not your application is complete and you have met all necessary requirements. If this is the case you will receive scheduling information to take the Wyoming Jurisprudence Exam at the office of a member of the Board of Dental Examiners.
The Wyoming Jurisprudence Exam is comprised of 25 multiple-choice questions that evaluate your knowledge pertaining to the Wyoming Dental Practice Act and the Wyoming Board of Dental Examiners Rules and Regulations. You will need to pass this exam before you will be eligible to receive a dental hygiene license.
Step 6. Maintain Your Wyoming Dental Hygienist License
Wyoming law requires that you must maintain your BLS/CPR certification as long as you practice as a dental hygienist. In addition to fulfilling this minimum requirement, dental hygienists may also consider working towards a more advanced degree such as a Bachelor’s of Science in Dental Hygiene. In general, professionals in this field are more likely to be successful if they possess advanced dental hygienist qualifications.