Dental Hygienist Schools in Illinois (Top Programs)

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Dental Hygienist Schools in Illinois

Illinois is probably the state with most dental hygienists in the country, with many of them operating in the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville area.

In this state, there are 2 agencies overseeing these professionals:

  • Illinois State Dental Society (ISDS) – sets the requirements for the profession, such as having to obtain a license
  • Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR) – the body issuing the licenses for future dental hygienists.

Training as a Dental Hygienist in Illinois

Those who want to become a dental hygienist must first train for the position and then apply for the license.

The training is a minimum of 2 years and also results in obtaining an Associates’s degree in the field.

The chosen dental hygiene program must be accredited by CODA, the Commission on Dental Accreditation.

Just like in the other states, the programs available in Illinois offer these degrees:

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  • Associate of Applied Science
  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Science
  • Master of Science in Dental Hygiene

Those enrolled in these dental hygienists programs will most likely learn about:

  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Head, neck, dental anatomy
  • Chemistry for Health Sciences
  • Oral Pathology
  • Microbiology
  • Dental Pharmacology
  • Clinical and Dental Hygiene
  • Dental Radiology
  • Periodontology
  • Science of Dental Materials
  • Dental Materials and Lab Techniques
  • Pain Management
  • Ethics, Jurisprudence, and Practice Management

Clinical practice has to be part of all these programs.

School NameAddress
Carl Sandburg College2400 Tom L. Wilson Boulevard, Galesburg, Illinois 61401
City Colleges of Chicago-Kennedy-King6301 S Halsted St, Chicago, Illinois 60621-2709
College of DuPage425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137-6599
College of Lake County19351 W Washington St., Grayslake, Illinois 60030-1198
Harper College1200 W Algonquin Rd, Palatine, Illinois 60067-7398
Illinois Central College1 College Drive, East Peoria, Illinois 61635-0001
Kennedy-King College6301 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60621
Lake Land College5001 Lake Land Blvd, Mattoon, Illinois 61938
Lewis and Clark Community College5800 Godfrey Rd, Godfrey, Illinois 62035
Lewis UniversityOne University Parkway, Romeoville, Illinois 60446-2200
Parkland College2400 W Bradley Ave, Champaign, Illinois 61821-1899
Prairie State College202 South Halsted Street, Chicago Heights, Illinois 60411-8226
Rock Valley College3301 N Mulford Rd, Rockford, Illinois 61114-5699
Southern Illinois University1263 Lincoln Dr, Carbondale, IL 62901

Taking the Exams

Once training is complete, candidates have to take and pass some exams, otherwise, they cannot receive their licenses.

National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE)

The NBDHE is offered by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations to those who graduated and whose applications got accepted.

To apply, candidates have to:

  • Agree to rules and regulations in NBDHE guide
  • Register for DENTPIN number
  • Apply for NBDHE exam
  • Schedule a time and location to take the exam

It is organized at the Pearson Vue testing centers.

Regional Dental Hygiene Exam

Illinois recognizes all of the 5 regional clinical exams future dental hygienists have to pass.

Candidates can take any of the exams offered.

Below are the agencies and the exams they offer.

Southern Regional Testing Agency, Inc. (SRTA)

The exam offered by the SRTA focuses on:

  • clinical expertise in presenting a selection of teeth,
  • presenting radiographs that can be used for setting a diagnose,
  • completing partial oral prophylaxis while preserving the integrity of the surrounding tissue,
  • detecting dental calculus,
  • completing a partial periodontal assessment by the recording of periodontal pocket depths.

North East Regional Board (NERB)

This agency offers 3 exams:

  • Dental hygiene exam
  • Local anesthesia exam focusing on anatomy, neurophysiology, pharmacology, anesthetics and techniques, and infection control.
  • Nitrous Oxide Exam focusing on managing pain and anxiety, anatomy and physiology of breathing, pharmacology of nitrous oxide, medical assessment, and administration of the solution.

The dental exam happens in 2 different locations and at 2 different times.

One of them is a computer-simulated clinical exam and the other one is a patient treatment clinical exam.

The other 2 exams have 50 questions each, and for each question, the candidate can choose more options.

Council of Interstate Testing Agencies, Inc. (CITA)

CITA offers the ADEX Hygiene Clinical License Exam.

This test has two sections:

  • the computer-based exam
  • the clinical patient-based exam

Western Region Examining Board (WREB)

WREB offers the Dental Hygiene exam, made of these parts:

  • Process of Care Exam
  • Dental Hygiene Clinical Exam.

The process of care is an interactive and computer-based exam.

The clinical exam covers concepts such as:

  • patient qualification,
  • calculus detection and removal,
  • periodontal probing
  • recession measurements.

Central Regional Dental Testing Services (CRDTS)

The dental hygiene exam offered by CRDTS focuses on:

  • clinical skills of extra/intraoral assessment
  • periodontal probing
  • scaling/subgingival calculus removal
  • supragingival deposit removal

License Application

To attain the license is submitting the license application.

The application needs to have the following documents:

  • A supporting CCA document
  • A supporting ED-DEN document
  • Proof of Completion of CODA-accredited Academic Program
  • National board score
  • Regional exam score
  • CPR certification

The first 2 supporting documents are enclosed in the application.

Those who have a previous license need to also provide a supporting CT document.

The application along with the documents have to be mailed to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Salary Info

The Associates’s degree is the minimum required education to apply for a dental hygienist license in Illinois, but employers may prefer applicants with higher degrees.

Having a higher degree also means a higher salary.

Annual Salary Range:
$55K
$76K
$97K
10%
50%
90%
Annual Salary by Location:
LocationAvg. Annual Salary
Chicago$79,255
Aurora$78,554
Naperville$77,651
Joliet$77,012
Rockford$74,014
Springfield$69,011
Elgin$77,978
Peoria$72,219
Champaign$70,238
Waukegan$74,743

License Renewal

Licenses expire after 3 years on September 30.

Those who wish to continue practicing need to:

  • Submit a renewal application,
  • Pay the license fee
  • Complete 36 credit hours of continuing education

The topics accepted for the educational requirement are related to the field and include:

  • Clinical Courses in Dental Hygiene
  • Nonclinical Courses in Patient Management
  • Legal and Ethical Responsibilities
  • Stress Management

The Department accepts up to 4 credit hours as volunteering as a dental hygienist servicing nonprofit community clinics, local or state health departments, or even at charity events.

USA Dental Hygiene by State


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