What is the Purpose of Dental Hygiene Continuing Education?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2019
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The purpose of dental hygiene continuing education is to ensure that dental hygienists have a thorough knowledge of the latest dental hygiene standards and practices and maintain their professional skills. Many governments require the completion of dental hygiene continuing education classes as a condition of renewing a dental hygienist's license. Even if the hygienist practices in a place where continuing education is not required to maintain a license, many professional associations require that members complete continuing education classes as a condition of membership.

Dental hygienists are health care professionals who specialize in the care of teeth and gums. Dental health is important not only for the sake of a patient's oral health, but overall health as well. Dental hygiene continuing education helps ensure that the hygienist knows how to best care for a patient's teeth, but is also aware of new techniques in dental care, sanitation procedures, and pain management. Particularly important is education in caring for dental patients with specific medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart problems. Other current issues of interest are caring for pregnant women and working with patients who use alternative and herbal remedies.


Requirements for dental hygiene continuing education vary by both jurisdiction and professional association requirements. In the United States, for example, all but one state require the regular completion of dental hygiene continuing education classes. In some jurisdictions, dental hygienists can complete their continuing education requirements via various forms of self-study or via online courses. Other places have stricter requirements for the classes that a hygienist must complete and may require that courses be completed only in a classroom or clinical setting.

Dental hygiene continuing education classes are typically available through dental hygiene schools, professional association meetings, and in some cases through various providers of online education. Dental hygienists should make sure that any course that they take is a approved by the appropriate licensing board or the professional association or associations to which they belong. Hygienists should also consult with their employer about taking courses appropriate to the dental practice in which they work. Some practices may run into specific issues on a regular basis because of the population they serve, and additional training in that area would benefit the hygienist, practice, and patients. Hygienists who wish to further their careers by developing an area of specialization may find that dental hygiene continuing education courses assist them in reaching their career and professional goals.


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Post 2

I think that any student in dental hygiene should talk to an academic advisor to find out about the requirements for continuing education in the area where he or she eventually plans to practice. This will help when it comes to preparing for his or her future career plans.

Post 1

It is hard to believe that some areas do not require much continuing education for dental hygienists. I think that most dentists in these areas support the dental hygienists they hire to occasionally take courses to stay on top of the newest types of dental hygiene practices. I have a friend whose dentist boss paid for her to take continuing educations coursework, even though she was not required to take more classes.

A dental hygienist should not hesitate to talk to his or her boss about helping pay for continuing education classes. After all, a well-educated staff will benefit a dentist's practice and make clients feel more confident when they have dental work done there.

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