Become a Dental Hygienist in Colorado
Robust growth is epxected in the market for dental hygienists in Colorado in the coming years. [Seguir leyendo en español]
Dental hygienists are essential and skilled members of the dental health team, delivering therapeutic services and preventive dentistry to a diverse range of patients.
Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment predicts that employment for in the dental hygiene field in Colorado will grow by 21% for the decade to 2028. In 2018 there were 4,590 persons employed as hygienists. Growth in Colorado outstrips growth nationally and is faster than for other professions in this state. (Visit this page for information on dental assistant schools in Colorado, requirements, salaries and more).
Requirements for Dental Hygienist in Colorado
Dental hygienists are licensed by Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies, Division of Professions and Occupations. Professionals must complete an accredited program in dental hygiene of at least two years in length, and pass the national licensing exams and a clinical exam with one of the regional testing services or a state exam. The national board exam is known as the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE).
There are separate requirements for dental hygiene professionals wishing to administer local anesthesia. These include holding a current Basic Life Support (BLS) certifcation for health care providers, and complete training at a Commission on Dental Accreditation-accredited school which includes 12 hours of didactic training in Anatomy, Pharmacology, Techniques, Physiology and Medical Emergencies, and 12 hours of clinical training that includes the administration of a minimum of 6 infiltration and 6 block injections. The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the U.S Department of Education.
Dental Hygienist Salaries in Colorado
In 2018, the average salary for Dental Hygienists in Colorado, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $89,640, or $43.10 per hour. There are currently around 4,590 dental hygienist jobs in Colorado and over 60% of these jobs are in the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood area, and 25% are in the Colorado Springs area. Dental hygienist salaries in Denver are higher than the state average.
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Dental Hygienist Schools in Colorado
There are four dental hygiene schools in Colorado, three of which are public community colleges offering CODA-accredited programs. The remaining school is a private, for-profit institution. For student reviews of these dental hygiene programs, try visiting CollegeTimes.co or StudentsReview.com. Contact schools for information on what financial aid may be available.
Dental hygiene programs will typically include training in the following topics: anatomy and physiology, dental materials, patient data gathering, infection control, prophylaxis, nutrition and nutritional counseling, oral pathology, pharmacology, the provision of local anesthesia and how to administer nitrous oxide, fluoride treatment, sealant applications, radiography and radiographic examination, therapeutic procedures and treatment planning.
In the expanded role of the dental hygienist, students may also be prepared in the treatment of periodontally-involved patients as well as institutionalized, handicapped and other medically compromised patients.
The Community College of Denver (CCD) offers both Associate (AAS) and Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degrees in Dental Hygiene at its Lowry Campus. Prerequisites for the AAS degree program include a minimum GPA of 2.5 in general education courses and a minimum GPA of 3.0 in science education courses.
The Bachelor program is a RDH (Registered Dental Hygienist) to BAS pathway. An AA, AAS, or Certificate in Dental Hygiene from a CODA-accredited DH program from which CCD will accept transfer credits is required for admission to the BAS program. BAS students can choose from one of two educational pathways: public health or education. CCD also runs a dental assisting program.
Colorado Northwestern Community College is located in Rangely, on the State’s border with Utah. It offers a five-semester accredited program in dental hygiene, leading to an Associate of Applied Science Degree.
The program prerequisites are a minimum GPA of 2.8 and grades of “C” or better on all prerequisite courses and general education courses. CNCC also has a Pre-Dental Hygiene program that offers three routes to guaranteed admission into the Dental Hygiene program.
Pueblo Community College offers a RDH to BASDH program. Its Bachelor in Science Degree is aimed at students who are already licensed Dental Hygienists. The is to prepare them for expanded career opportunities that may include education, public health, program administration, or research. The faculty members have extensive experience working to deal with the needs of a diverse patient population.