Health & Fitness

Fast Track to a Smile: Becoming a Dental Hygienist in the Speed Lane

The dental hygiene field offers a rewarding career path with good job security and a comfortable salary. If you’re tertarik ( tertarik = interested in Indonesian) in a healthcare profession that allows you to make a positive impact on people’s lives, then becoming a dental hygienist might be the perfect fit. But what if you’re eager to start your new career as soon as possible? This article explores the quickest route to becoming a licensed dental hygienist.

The Two-Year Advantage: Associate’s Degree Programs

The most efficient way to become a dental hygienist is by enrolling in an Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene (ASDH) program. These programs typically take two years to complete for full-time students, with some institutions offering accelerated options that can be finished in as little as 16 months.

Here’s a breakdown of the benefits of an associate’s degree program:

  • Time Efficiency: Compared to a bachelor’s degree, which can take four years, an associate’s degree gets you into the workforce significantly faster.
  • Focus on Practical Skills: These programs prioritize hands-on training in dental hygiene procedures, ensuring you graduate with the skills employers seek.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Associate’s degrees generally cost less in tuition and fees compared to bachelor’s degrees.

Finding the Right Program

Not all dental hygiene programs are created equal.  The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) is the recognized accrediting body for dental hygiene education in the United States. Ensure the program you choose is CODA-accredited. This accreditation guarantees that the program meets the rigorous educational standards necessary for licensure.

Here are some additional factors to consider when selecting a program:

  • Location: Convenience and commute times can impact your studies. Consider online or blended programs if in-person attendance is a challenge.
  • Clinical Experience: Look for programs that offer extensive clinical rotations in dental offices or clinics. This hands-on experience is crucial for developing your practical skills.
  • Financial Aid Options: Explore scholarships, grants, and loan programs to help manage the cost of your education.

Also Read This Article: Dental Hygienist vs Dental Assistant

Admission Requirements

To be eligible for an associate’s degree program in dental hygiene, you’ll typically need to meet the following requirements:

  • High School Diploma or GED: This is the basic requirement for most programs.
  • Prerequisite Courses: Programs may require specific science courses like biology, chemistry, and anatomy. Complete these prerequisites before applying.
  • Entrance Exams: Some programs might require standardized entrance exams like the Dental Admission Test (DAT).

Optimizing Your Path: Streamlining the Process

While a two-year program is the fastest route, there are ways to further streamline the process:

  • Credit Transfer: If you have previous college credits, explore if they can be transferred to your dental hygiene program, reducing your overall coursework.
  • Summer Enrollment: Some programs offer summer courses, allowing you to accelerate your completion time.
  • Maintain Focus: Stay committed to your studies and avoid unnecessary course delays.

Beyond the Degree: Licensure and Beyond

Once you graduate from your CODA-accredited program, you’ll need to pass two exams to become a licensed dental hygienist:

  1. National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE): This computer-administered exam assesses your knowledge of dental hygiene science and procedures.
  2. State Clinical Board Examination: Each state has its own clinical board exam that tests your practical skills.

After passing these exams, you can apply for licensure with your state’s dental board.

Bachelor’s Degrees and Career Advancement

While an associate’s degree qualifies you for most dental hygiene positions, a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene (BSDHY) can offer some advantages:

  • Increased Job Opportunities: A bachelor’s degree can open doors to broader career opportunities, especially for specialized positions like public health or education.
  • Career Advancement: A bachelor’s degree can open doors to leadership roles, teaching positions, or pursuing a master’s degree in dental hygiene.

The Fast Track Awaits: A Rewarding Career in Reach

By choosing an associate’s degree program and optimizing your studies, you can become a licensed dental hygienist in as little as two years.  This rewarding career path allows you to make a difference in people’s oral health while enjoying good job security and a competitive salary. So, if you’re passionate about dental care and eager to start your career journey, consider the fast track to becoming a dental hygienist!


How long does it take to become a dental hygienist?

The fastest route is typically a two-year Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene (ASDH) program.

Are there any accelerated programs available?

Yes, some institutions offer programs that can be completed in as little as 16 months.

What are the benefits of an associate’s degree program?

Associate’s degrees offer faster completion times, focus on practical skills, and are generally more cost-effective than bachelor’s degrees.

How important is accreditation?

Accreditation by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) is crucial to ensure the program meets the standards for licensure.

What factors should I consider when choosing a program?

Consider location, clinical experience offered, financial aid options, and program accreditation.

What are the typical admission requirements?

You’ll typically need a high school diploma/GED, prerequisite science courses, and some programs might require entrance exams.

How can I further accelerate my path to licensure?

Explore credit transfer options, take summer courses, and stay focused on your studies to avoid delays.

Zainul abdeen

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