How to Become a Restorative Dental Hygienist: Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a restorative dental hygienist. Research the education and career requirements, licensure information and experience required for starting a career as a restorative dental hygienist. View article »

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  • 0:04 Restorative Dental Hygienist
  • 1:10 Complete Dental Hygiene Prog.
  • 1:56 Become Licensed
  • 2:13 Obtain Employment
  • 2:29 Study Restorative Dentistry

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Video Transcript

Restorative Dental Hygienist

Restorative dentistry focuses on the application of cavity-liners, placement and removal of crowns, attachment of prosthetics and finishing of silicone restoration. Some states allow dental hygienists to perform these types of procedures after completing the proper education and training. Dental hygienists often spend many hours standing, and they wear protective gear while working on patients.

In addition to completing an accredited associate's degree program in dental hygiene and securing state licensure, prospective restorative dental hygienists may need to complete a restoration dentistry program and pass an exam. The table below includes the requirements to become a restorative dental hygienist:

Degree Level Associate's degree
Degree Field Dental hygiene
Licensure State licensure can be earned by passing a practical and written exam
Key Skills Dexterity to perform dental procedures; communication skills; detail-oriented; must be able to operate dental and X-ray machinery, as well as pass the Western Regional Board Exam (WREB)
Salary $72,720 per year (Median salary from May 2015 for all dental hygienists)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), American Dental Hygienists' Association

Let's look at the steps involved to become a restorative dental hygienist.

Step 1: Complete a Dental Hygiene Program

Dental hygiene training programs are available as certificate, associate's degree and bachelor's degree programs, though associate's programs are the most common. These programs are widely available at community colleges and vocational schools. Dental hygiene programs teach students several aspects of dental hygiene, including dental technology, the application of dental materials, oral health promotion, dental terminology and the incorporation of dental hygiene laws according to state law.

Success Tip:

  • Ensure the program is accredited. Any prospective program should be accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation. This assures the student has learned federal and state laws and can be eligible for licensure upon graduation.

Step 2: Become Licensed

State licensure is required for all dental hygienists. Although state licensure processes vary, they typically require applicants to have completed an accredited program, passed a written test, and completed supervised practical hours.

Step 3: Obtain Employment

Dental hygienists who have earned licensure can apply for jobs through employers such as hospitals, community health centers or dentists' offices. Job duties of a dental hygienist include cleaning patients' teeth and educating them about dental health.

Step 4: Study Restorative Dentistry

Restorative dentistry programs are available for currently licensed dental hygienists who want to improve their knowledge and skills in the field. In addition to learning about restorative dental procedures, students in these programs can learn about administering local anesthesia and nitrous oxide.

Success Tip:

  • Get Certified. Depending on the state, students who complete these programs may be eligible to take the Western Regional Examining Board's examination for state certification in restorative dental practice. Some states require dental hygienists to earn certification prior to handling any restorative dental duties. Earning certification can provide more job opportunities and career advancement for restorative dental hygienists.

In summary, restorative dental hygienists typically need an associate's degree in dental hygiene and state licensure as a dental hygienist. They also might opt to complete a restorative dentistry program and test for certification.

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