Now is a good time to train as a dental hygienist in California, as the demand for these professionals is still on the rise.
A dental hygienist may have the following duties:
- Applying preventive materials
- Offering oral health education to patients
- Treatment counseling
- Identifying oral pathologies
Individuals need a license to work as a dental hygienist, which can be obtained after completing training and passing some exams.
Licenses are issued by the Dental Hygiene Committee of California (DHCC).
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Completing Accredited Training
Future dental hygienists are expected to obtain at least an Associates’s degree, though a Bachelors’s and Master’s offer better career opportunities.
The program needs accreditation from CODA and includes hands-on experience in a clinic.
Most of the schools offering training programs for future dental hygienists will require candidates to meet certain criteria.
The criteria include:
- Having a CPR certification
- A minimum grade in subjects like:
- A GPA of at least 2.5
Students will have classes covering topics from these fields:
- Dental anatomy
- Community dental health
The Associates’ degree is obtained after 2 years of schooling and the Bachelors’s after years.
|Cabrillo College||6500 Soquel Dr, Aptos, California 95003|
|Carrington College||8909 Folsom Blvd, Sacramento, California 95826|
|Carrington College||6201 San Ignacio Ave., San Jose, California 95119|
|Cerritos College||11110 Alondra Blvd, Norwalk, California 90650-6298|
|Chabot College||25555 Hesperian Blvd, Hayward, California 94545|
|Concorde Career College||12951 Euclid Street, Suite 101, Garden Grove, California 92840-9201|
|Concorde Career College||201 East Airport Drive, Suite A, San Bernardino, California 92408-3403|
|Cypress College||9200 Valley View, Cypress, California 90630-5897|
|Diablo Valley College||321 Golf Club Rd, Pleasant Hill, California 94523|
|Foothill College||12345 El Monte Rd, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022|
|Fresno City College||1101 E. University Ave, Fresno, California 93741|
|Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry||925 W 34th St #201j, Los Angeles, CA 90089|
|Loma Linda University||11139 Anderson Street, Loma Linda, California 92350|
|Orange Coast College||2701 Fairview Rd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626|
|Pasadena City College||1570 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106|
|West Coast University||1477 S. Manchester Ave. Anaheim, CA 92802|
|West Los Angeles College||9000 Overland Ave, Culver City, CA 90230|
In California, dental hygienists with a Bachelor of Science can choose to become registered in alternative practice.
Alternatively, 120-semester units of college coursework can replace this degree.
Taking the Exams
In California, future dental hygienists need to pass 3 exams before receiving their licenses.
The Written National Board Exam
This exam is taken through the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE).
In California, candidates need to prove they completed these classes to be able to take this exam:
- Gingival soft tissue curettage
- Administration of local anesthetic agents
- Administration of nitrous oxide-oxygen analgesia
Pearson Vue administers this exam, which costs $400.
The California Clinical Dental Hygienist Exam
This exam is only available to those who passed the NBDH exam above, by at least 30 days in advance.
This exam is organized every year, and the dates are posted online.
For this exam, a candidate needs to fill out the DHCC clinical exam application form.
The following fees must also be included with the application:
- application fee – $50
- examination fee – $525
- license fee – $100
The exam results are usually mailed after about 6 weeks after the exam.
The Written DHCC Law and Ethics Exam
This exam is available only to those who passed the clinical exam.
Details regarding this exam are usually mailed and include instructions related to the application process.
This exam costs $28.
Applying for the License
DHCC mails the license application to those who passed the law and ethics exam.
Some candidates might have obtained their license in a different state, and they are eligible to use the Licensure by a Credential application form.
Those who passed the Central Regional Testing Services (CRDTS) Exam or the Western Regional Examination Board (WREB)
The exam can also apply for the Californian dental hygienist license.
The application has to also have:
- 2 recent passport size photos -under 6 months old
- Scanned fingerprints
- Other licenses regardless of their status
Those who want or need to expose Xrays, need to also complete the radiation safety certification form.
Only those who graduated in a different state need to fill out this form.
Registering as a Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice (RDHAP)
In California, professionals who have an RDHAP can practice as:
- An employee of a clinic owned or operated by a public hospital or health system
- An independent contractor
- A sole proprietor of an alternative dental hygiene practice
- An employee of another registered dental hygienist in an alternative practice
- An employee of a clinic owned and operated by a hospital in a contract with the county government
- An employee of a dentist
- An employee of a primary care clinic or specialty clinic
They can operate in these settings:
- Private residences of the homebound
- Residential facilities and other institutions
- “Health professional shortage areas” recognized by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development
To establish an RDHAP practice, the individual needs to:
- Prove a relationship with a licensed dentist, for referral, consultation, and emergency services
- Fill and sign the RDHAP Application for Licensure
- Application fee -$300, payable to DHCC
- Copy of the RDH license – current and active
- Copy of the Bachelor of Science degree diploma
- A passport photo – 2×2 inches
- Fill out the Certification of Clinical Practice form
- Copy of the Live Scan fingerprinting for the RDHAP license
Dental hygienists in California will have a different income based on the degree they earned and additional certifications.
On average, these professionals earn more than the average salary across the country, which is $74,769 per year.Annual Salary Range:
|Location||Avg. Annual Salary|
Both the license and the RDHAP need to be renewed.
The license is renewed every 2 years on the last day of the birthday month of the professional.
The DHCC sends a notification with some 60 days before the deadline.
The renewal costs $160 and professionals don’t need to continue their education for the first renewal.
After the first renewal, individuals must complete at least 25 continuing education units.
They must cover:
- At least 2 units in infection control specific to California
- At least 2 units regarding the California Dental Practice Act and related regulations
- At least 4 units in basic life support
The RDHAP is also renewed every 2 years, but professionals need to complete 35 continuing education credits before that.
Read the full guide: How to Become a Dental Hygienist