Dental Hygienist Careers in Rhode Island

The smallest state in the United States takes dental hygiene seriously, with dedication to the promotion of dental and oral health in schools and marginalized communities. Rhode Island residents who want to make a difference in the community may want to consider a career in dental hygiene, which is the practice of oral cleanliness and preventative dental care. Dental hygienists may work in a number of settings including dental offices, public clinics and schools, where they can apply sealants. Some of the other services provided by dental hygienists are tooth and gum cleaning, preliminary oral health exams and the administration of nitrous oxide or anesthesia.


Dental Hygienist Requirements

There are a number of steps required before one can apply for a dental hygiene license in Rhode Island. After completion of a training program at a school accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), license applicants must also pass written and clinical exams on national, regional and state levels. These exams are both written and practical/clinical, and test scores must be sent directly from the testing agencies to the Rhode Island Department of Health.

Where to Study Dental Hygiene in Rhode Island

Only one school offers an accredited dental hygiene program in Rhode Island. However, state dental hygiene licensure allows for a degree from a dental hygiene school in any state, as long as it has been accredited by CODA. Other New England states near Rhode Island offer a wide variety of programs to suit the needs of students who do not gain entrance to the following school:

  • Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI). This school’s Flanagan Campus in Lincoln, RI, offers an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Dental Hygiene. Upon acceptance to CCRI, there are only four required prerequisite courses that must be taken: Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Biomedical Chemistry and Intro to Dental Health. These courses must be passed with a grade of “C” or higher.

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Dental Hygienist Licensure Details

A basic dental hygienist license issued by the Rhode Island Department of Health costs $65. In order to administer local anesthesia and nitrous oxide, two additional licenses must be obtained at $70 each. All three licenses cost $205 in total. It may take up to four weeks for a dental hygienist license request to be processed.

Rhode Island Dental Hygienist Salary and Employment Prospects

In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Rhode Island dental hygienists earned a mean salary of $35.95 per hour or $74,780 annually. These income statistics fall in line with the BLS-reported national median income of $35.61 per hour and $74,070 annually for this field. Although the employment rate in dental hygiene is expected to increase by just 0.1 percent by 2026, an average of 60 dental hygiene jobs open per year in Rhode Island.

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Rewards of Working as a Dental Hygienist in Rhode Island

Despite Rhode Island’s small size, it employed 1,380 dental hygienists in 2017. The best place to find work is in Providence, which also hosts an annual Rhode Island Prenatal and Pediatric Dentistry mini-clinic. This event has been offered for the past 11 years and adds prestige to the resumes of dental hygienists while providing needed dental care to marginalized populations. If you live in Rhode Island, like to work with your hands and want to help improve the oral health of your surrounding community, a career in dental hygiene may be right next step for you.

College Listings

Providence-Warwick, RI-MA

Community College of Rhode Island

400 East Ave, Warwick, Rhode Island 02886-1807
(401) 825-1000

The Associate’s program at Community College of Rhode Island is taught at their Warwick campus. The college has about 17,884 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. In-state tuition is approximately $3,950 per year. Tuition for students from outside the state of Rhode Island is $10,582.

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