how to become a dental hygienist

How to Become a Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists do more than just make people’s smiles brighter. They play a crucial role in keeping our communities safe and healthy. Dental problems are often signs of more serious health problems occurring in other parts of the body. Furthermore, tooth or gum disease can cause serious health problems later in life. For most people, dental hygienists are the first line of defense against dental issues — providing crucial information about oral care, performing regular cleanings, screening for diseases like oral cancer, and even crafting new smiles to help people fuel their confidence.

At Goodwin University, our Dental Hygiene program will prepare you with the knowledge and skills needed to achieve an in-demand career in this field. Continue reading to learn how you can prepare to become a dental hygienist.

The life of a smile specialist

If you decide to pursue the fulfilling career of a dental hygienist, you’ll spend your days making a direct impact on people’s lives. You’ll work in a dentist’s office or clinic to complete a variety of crucial tasks that help your patients stay healthy and smiling. Some of the most common responsibilities of a dental hygienist include:

  • Applying medications like fluorides and sealants to protect teeth
  • Assessing patients’ oral health and reporting findings to dentists
  • Educating patients about oral hygiene techniques and benefits
  • Maintaining detailed records about patient care and treatment plans
  • Performing and reading dental x-rays
  • Regular teeth cleanings to remove tartar, plaque, and stains from teeth

What is the job outlook for dental hygienists?

If there is one thing that remains consistent in today’s ever-changing market, it’s the need for healthcare professionals like dental hygienists. With people living longer than ever before, the need for skilled professionals to help maintain people’s original teeth is only growing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is projected to grow 9% from 2021 to 2031, with about 16,300 job openings each year.


Looking for a reason to smile? Learn about how Goodwin’s dental hygiene students are making a difference in their community.


What does it take to become a dental hygienist?

Education requirements

Most dental hygienists earn an associate degree in Dental Hygiene, though bachelors’ programs can also help students on their path to becoming dentists. Whatever degree you choose, your program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education.

Most programs take between two and three years to complete. Programs typically include major core requirements like English and mathematics, as well as non-major core requirements like chemistry, anatomy, and physiology. The remaining credits include dental hygiene courses like periodontology, dental materials, community and public health dentistry, and even pharmacology and pain management. Some schools require students to have completed prerequisites prior to application, so it is important that you carefully review the enrollment requirements before applying to a Dental Hygiene program.

Check out our Associate of Science (AS) in Dental Hygiene guide for everything you should know to prepare for your journey toward your degree and career in dental hygiene at Goodwin University!

Licensing requirements

After graduating from a dental hygiene program, you’ll need to get licensed before you can practice. Licensing requirements vary by state, but typically include passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and a regional or state licensing exam.

For example, in Connecticut, dental hygienists must:

Learn by doing at Goodwin

Education and licensing requirements ensure you have the theoretical background and knowledge to succeed as a dental hygiene practitioner, but experience will always be the best teacher. At Goodwin University, we require our dental hygiene students to participate in clinics, rotations, and community enrichment activities to prepare them physically, mentally, and emotionally for a dynamic and rewarding career as a dental hygienist.

Guided by our expert faculty, you’ll put to practice what you learn in the classroom by helping their community through our Dental Hygiene Clinic, where you’ll gain invaluable clinical experience at our state-of-the-art dental hygiene facilities — all from working with actual patients in community health centers, preschools, senior centers, and addiction facilities.

We offer flexible day-time classes with on-campus, online, and hybrid options, as well as a rotating clinical schedule of days, evenings, and weekdays. With our variety of financial aid opportunities and support services, you can confidently enter this ever- growing, high-paying field knowing you’ll be receiving support every step of the way. There is no better time than now to become a dental hygienist, so what are you waiting for?

Contact us  or  apply  to earn your associate degree in Dental Hygiene today. We’re ready when you are! Call 800-889-3282 or text 860-467-1511.