The duties of a dental hygienist include removing soft and hard deposits around patients' teeth and gums during cleaning, administering anesthesia for dental procedures, examining teeth and gums for periodontal diseases, and educating patients on how to achieve optimal oral health. Becoming an entry level dental hygienist in New Jersey requires an associate's degree or certificate in dental hygiene from an accredited dental hygiene school and state certification. A holder of an associate's degree or certification for dental hygiene has the option of pursing a bachelor's or master's degree in dentistry for career advancement.
Attend an accredited dental hygienist program in New Jersey to obtain a certificate or associate's degree in dental hygiene. Bergen Community College and Essex County College are two schools that offer training and certification in dental hygiene. Pursing a higher-level degree in dental hygiene is recommended if you want to pursue advanced level dental hygienist positions but is not necessary to obtain state certification and begin entry-level work as a dental hygienist in New Jersey.
Take the dental hygiene exam to obtain a northeast regional license from the North East Regional Board of Dental Examiners Inc. (See Resource 1.) New Jersey is included in the northeast states accepting licensure from this organization for state certification to practice dentistry in the state. The local anesthesia examination and nitrous oxide examination for dental hygienists can be taken as part of to the certification process for general dental hygiene.
Apply for state certification from the New Jersey State Board of Dentistry to obtain a state license to practice as a dental hygienist. The North East Regional Board of Dentistry regional certification is preliminary to obtaining your state license. You will need a separate license from the state of New Jersey to begin practicing within the state. The application can be downloaded from the New Jersey State Board of Dentistry web site. (See Resource 2.)