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Becoming a Dental Hygienist in Massachusetts

Dental hygienists enjoy rewarding careers that allow them to work with their hands and help people feel their best. They typically perform tasks including cleaning teeth, applying bandages to sutures, operating equipment and otherwise helping dentists do their work. Dental hygienists in Massachusetts must be licensed as Registered Dental Hygienists (RDH) to practice in the state.

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Requirements for Becoming a Dental Hygienist in Massachusetts

To become a dental hygienist in Massachusetts, applicants must attend an accredited dental hygiene program, which typically lasts about two years. The school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) for students to be eligible to sit for the national dental hygiene exam. Prospective dental hygienists must pass this standardized licensure exam to begin working.

Dental Hygienist Programs in Massachusetts

Most programs for dental hygienists are two-year associate’s degree programs. These programs are widely available at community colleges and other technical schools, though only students attending CODA-accredited schools are eligible for the licensing exam. The following programs are available in Massachusetts:

  • Quinsigamond Community College. Students at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester put their learning into action at an on-campus dental hygiene clinic. Clinical rotations, during which students will work in off-campus dental offices to gain experience, may also be required for graduation.
Middlesex Community College
  • Middlesex Community College. Lowell-based Middlesex Community College offers an associate’s degree in dental hygiene. The program includes clinical rotations and time working in the school’s on-campus dental clinic as well.
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Massachusetts Dental Hygiene License

Dental hygienists must pass the National Board Examination as well as a state exam accredited by one of the following:

  • Commission on Dental Competency Assessments (CDCA)
  • The Council of Interstate Testing Agencies, Inc. (CITA)
  • Central Regional Dental Testing Service, Inc. (CRDTS)
  • The Southern Regional Testing Agency (SRTA)
  • The Western Regional Examining Board, Inc. (WREB)

Dental hygienists in Massachusetts must also take the CDCA Diagnostic Skills Exam to receive their licenses.

Dental Hygienist Salary in Massachusetts

Employment in the dental field is steadily increasing, with the field expected to be -6 percent in Massachusetts within the 10 years from 2018 to 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The average annual salary of a dental hygienist in Massachusetts is $86,250.

AreaTotal EmployedMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary
Barnstable Town, MA290$41.05$85,380
Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH4,310$38.77$80,640
Leominster-Gardner, MA**$42.78$88,990
New Bedford, MA100$35.01$72,820
Pittsfield, MA90$35.19$73,190
Providence-Warwick, RI-MA1,230$36.42$75,760
Springfield, MA-CT630$38.39$79,860
Worcester, MA-CT690$39.72$82,620

Working as a Dental Hygienist in Massachusetts

Dental hygienists constantly interact with new people, helping them feel comfortable during dental appointments and educating them on dental health. They have the opportunity to enter the medical field without extensive training. Dental hygienists typically receive the highest salaries in larger cities, such as Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts, though work can be found in any town with a dental office.

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What are Massachusetts Dental License Renewal Requirements?

The Massachusetts government website lists the following requirements for the renewal of your dental hygienist’s license: Dental hygienists must complete 20 units of continuing education during every two-year renewal cycle. Ten of these units may be earned through at-home self-study, while ten must be earned through accredited educational institutions.

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