How Long Do Dental Hygienists Go to School?

When it comes to the field of dentistry, there are plenty of career opportunities available. Dental offices have numerous team members that conduct various roles. Each of these is crucial for a smooth and efficient dental practice. Those who are brave and dedicated enough to devote their professional careers to improve and maintain oral health are never short on choices. Depending on your level of education and your personal preferences, you can choose where you want to dedicate your time. One of the vital roles is that of a dental hygienist. A good dental hygienist is an essential part of any dental practice and can make life easier for the dentist and patients. If you are considering this job as a career option, then it is essential to know what goes into achieving that worthy goal.


The first step is to attend a program that has been approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). People that have ambitions to become a dental hygienist have two options. They can either go for an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree program.

Associate’s Degree

Associate degrees typically take about two years to complete if the student is going full time. Associates degrees are the minimum education required for the position.

Further Schooling for Associate Degrees

There are plenty of options to expand your knowledge and become more specialized in dentistry. Students that opt for an associate degree have the option of going back to school and getting a bachelor’s degree. If, at one point in your career, you feel the urge to work on yourself and progress your knowledge, you can transfer the credits earned with your associate’s degree and continue your schooling. This typically lasts an additional two years, even with a full-time job. You will probably already have some experience in the field and can transfer that knowledge to your schooling.

Bachelor’s Degree

Bachelor’s degrees are more challenging than associate’s degrees. These programs typically last about four years for full-time students. While it might seem like a hassle deciding which option is better for you, it is important to note that a bachelor’s degree can open more doors. They enable students to qualify for better job openings and also get a higher salary in the long run. Bachelor programs also include some practical and clinical work within the program, which is a great way to help students get familiar with the job.

What Can You Expect to Learn?

Dental hygienist programs include a lot of classroom work, time in a lab, and clinical practice. When it comes to the curriculums of such institutions, students can expect to have in-depth lessons in a variety of subjects in the field. These courses will include chemistry, anatomy, microbiology, physiology, pharmacology, histology, oral pathology, periodontology, radiography, and microbiology.

Getting a License

In order to be a dental hygienist, you are going to need a license. The majority of states dictate that a dental hygienist must have an accredited degree from a university or college. In addition to that, they need to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam to receive their license.

Once you complete your studies and the appropriate examinations, you are eligible to work in a dental practice. It is a great job that provides a lot of job satisfaction and even further training to advance in your field.