Becoming a Dental Hygienist in Oregon

Now is a great time to become a dental hygienist in Oregon, as the career field offers strong income and dental hygiene employment levels are rising steadily. Dental hygienists are specialists trained and licensed to perform dental procedures, often under the supervision of a dentist, that focus on preventative care, treatment of oral disease and cleaning of the mouth and gums. Only two to three years of training is generally required for dental hygienists to become licensed in Oregon, while dentists must pursue graduate studies and residency before practicing. Some dental hygienists may even wish to eventually further their education and become dentists.

State Requirements

To become a dental hygienist in Oregon, you must obtain dental hygiene licensure from the Oregon Board of Dentistry. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and have completed a course of study accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) before also successfully completing required dental hygiene exams on national, regional and state levels. A clean criminal background check is further required for all Oregon dental hygienist applicants.

Well-known Programs

Oregon offers a selection of two-year, CODA-accredited dental hygiene programs across the state, including:

  • Portland Community College (PCC). On the PCC Sylvania campus, Oregon students can earn a Dental Hygiene Associate Degree in Applied Science. Prerequisite courses including Microbiology, English and Algebra are required to be considered for this program. Work experience or shadowing in a dental office setting is also helpful for applicants’ success.
  • Lane Community College. This public school, located in Eugene, also offers a fully-accredited Associate Degree in Dental Hygiene to Oregon students. Accepting just 20 applicants per year, the program is highly competitive and requires at least 39 prerequisite credit hours in courses including Human Anatomy, Nutrition and Psychology. Additionally, applicants who have completed at least 960 documented hours of work in a dental office setting may receive priority review.

See this page for information on dental assistant schools.

State Licensure

Under Oregon law, licensed dental hygienists can administer local anesthetics, operate certain high-speed dental cleaning tools and adjust dentures for patients. In order to administer local anesthetics, dental hygienists’ training programs must include appropriate anesthesia classes. With an additional Oregon anesthesia permit, Oregon dental hygienists can also administer nitrous oxide.

Popular Programs

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that Oregon dental hygienists were paid a mean salary of $39.83 per hour, which was nearly four times the Oregon minimum wage of $10.25 per hour.

In 2016, 3,460 dental hygienists were employed across the entire state. The demand for these skilled professionals in Oregon is predicted to grow even more by the year 2026, with a 15.4 percent increase in employment of dental hygienists.

AreaTotal EmployedMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary
Albany, OR120$35.41$73,660
Bend-Redmond, OR180$38.86$80,830
Corvallis, OR100$45.08$93,770
Eugene, OR380$38.15$79,360
Grants Pass, OR80$42.97$89,390
Medford, OR270$40.97$85,220
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA2,510$36.72$76,390
Salem, OR310$37.89$78,820

Working as a Dental Hygienist in Oregon

In 2017, the most Oregon dental hygienists were employed in the Portland area, followed distantly by Eugene, Salem and Medford. Out of all these areas, Portland offered the highest income to its dental hygienists, with a reported mean income of $40.22 per hour. However, those employed in the North Coast Oregon nonmetropolitan area were paid the highest in Oregon in 2017, at a mean income of $43.89 per hour. With Oregon’s increasing demand and strong pay rates for dental hygienists, this career is a great opportunity for those who want to get started in the dental field without a years-long program of study.

College Listings

Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

Carrington College-Portland

2004 Lloyd Center, 3rd Floor, Portland, Oregon 97232-1309
(503) 761-6100

The Associate’s program at Carrington College is taught at their Portland campus. The majority of the school’s 449 students are on 2-year programs. The dental hygiene program has annual tuition fees of $61,200 and material costs of $7,765. The average completion time for the program is 21 months.

Eugene, OR

Lane Community College

4000 E 30th Ave, Eugene, Oregon 97405-0640
(541) 463-3000

The Associate’s program at Lane Community College is taught at their Eugene campus. This program of study is accredited by the American Dental Association. The college has around 12,192 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. In-state tuition is approximately $3,776 per year. Fees for students from other states are $8,456.

Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

Mt Hood Community College

26000 SE Stark St, Gresham, Oregon 97030
(503) 491-6422

The Associate’s degree program is imparted at the college’s Gresham campus. This program of study is accredited by the American Dental Association. This private, not-for-profit college has about 9,847 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. In-state tuition is approximately $4,602 per year. The fees for out-of-state students are $10,002.

Klamath Falls, OR

Oregon Institute of Technology

3201 Campus Drive, Klamath Falls, Oregon 97601-8801
(541) 885-1000

The Bachelor program at Oregon Institute of Technology is offered at their campus in the town of Klamath Falls. This program of study is accredited by the American Dental Association. This is a full, 4-year private college with 3,991 students, of which 99% are undergraduates. Typical in-state tuition fees are approximately $8,548 per year. The fees for students from outside Oregon are $22,188.

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