The "RDH" designation means Registered Dental Hygienist. The RDH credential identifies a dental hygienist as a licensed oral health professional. Each state has specific regulations that guide a licensed dental hygienist. These regulations vary from state to state.
Dental Hygiene and Educational Requirements
To become a dental hygienist, you'll need either a 2- or 4-year degree in dental hygiene. Most programs are two years long and lead to an associate's degree. They are offered through community colleges.
Dental Hygiene school programs at universities are typically four years and lead to a bachelor's degree. A bachelor's offers a broader educational base in the humanities and other disciplines through two years of prerequisite courses such as English, speech, psychology, sociology, nutrition, chemistry and biology.
A Dental Hygienist must be licensed by the state in which they want to practice. To qualify for licensure, you need to graduate from an accredited dental hygiene program and pass a written and clinical exam. All states require the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to the regional or state clinical exam. Each state will require a written exam on the legal aspects of dental hygiene practice for that specific state.
Please contact the American Dental Hygienists' Association – the largest national organization representing the professional interests licensed dental hygienists.
Check our future blog on the Job Description of a Licensed Dental Hygienist.