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Dental Hygienists

Eligibility for License
Board-Approved Examinations
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Board rules and state law require that anyone engaged in the practice of dental hygiene hold an active license to practice in the state of Iowa.  

Practice of Dental Hygiene Defined

“Practice of dental hygiene” means the performance of the following educational, therapeutic, preventive and diagnostic dental hygiene procedures which are delegated by and under the supervision of a dentist licensed pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 153.

  1. Educational. Assessing the need for, planning, implementing, and evaluating oral health education programs for individual patients and community groups; conducting workshops and in-service training sessions on dental health for nurses, school personnel, institutional staff, community groups and other agencies providing consultation and technical assistance for promotional, preventive and educational services.
  2. Therapeutic. Identifying and evaluating factors which indicate the need for and performing (1) oral prophylaxis, which includes supragingival and subgingival debridement of plaque, and detection and removal of calculus with instruments or any other devices; (2) periodontal scaling and root planing; (3) removing and polishing hardened excess restorative material; (4) administering local anesthesia with the proper permit; (5) administering nitrous oxide inhalation analgesia in accordance with IAC 650--Chapter 29; (6) applying or administering medicaments prescribed by a dentist, including chemotherapeutic agents and medicaments or therapies for the treatment of periodontal disease and caries.
  3. Preventive. Applying pit and fissure sealants and other medications or methods for caries and periodontal disease control; organizing and administering fluoride rinse or sealant programs.
  4. Diagnostic. Reviewing medical and dental health histories; performing oral inspection; indexing dental and periodontal disease; making occlusal registrations for mounting study casts; testing pulp vitality; analyzing dietary surveys.

Note: Students enrolled in an accredited dental hygiene school are exempt from the requirements for licensure for all activities directly related to the curriculum and activities of the accredited program. Dental hygienists enrolled in a residency program in Iowa must apply for and be issued a resident license before practicing clinically.

Eligibility for a Permanent License

A permanent dental hygiene license authorizes the holder to practice dental hygiene in the state of Iowa. Requirements for obtaining an Iowa dental license are found in Iowa Administrative Code 650--Chapter 11.

By Examination

A dental hygienist who is a graduate of an ADA-accredited dental hygiene school and who has completed the who has successfully completed the CRDTS, WREB, ADEX, or SRTA examination is eligible to apply for a dental hygiene license in Iowa on the basis of examination. Applicants who have been licensed for one (1) year or longer must apply by credentials. Please refer to Iowa Administrative Code 650--Chapter 11 for specific requirements.

By Credentials

A dental hygienist who is a graduate of an ADA-accredited dental school and who has a current, valid dental license in another state that was issued on the basis of clinical examination OR has at least three years of current, active practice in that state may be eligible may be eligible to apply for license by credentials. Please refer to Iowa Administrative Code 650--Chapter 11 for specific requirements.

By Verification

A dental hygienist who has been licensed and practicing in another state may apply on the basis of verification if they do not qualify for licensure on the basis of examination or credentials.  Please refer to Iowa Administrative Code 650--Chapter 11 for specific requirements.

Board-Approved Examinations

Clinical Examination

Applicants for a permanent dental hygiene license issued on the basis of examination must have successfully completed one of the following clinical examinations:

  • Central Regional Dental Testing Service, Inc. (CRDTS)*
  • Western Regional Examining Board, Inc. (WREB)*
  • Southern Regional Testing Agency (SRTA)
  • Commission on Dental Competency Assessments (CDCA)*
  • Council of Interstate Testing Agencies, Inc. (CITA)*
  • American Board of Dental Examiners (ADEX) as administered by CDCA, WREB, SRTA or CITA.*

*Beginning in May 2021, the Iowa Dental Board accepts the patient-based and manikin-based clinical examinations.

Note: Applicants who have been licensed for one (1) year or longer in another state must apply on the basis of credentials or verification.  Please refer to Iowa Administrative Code 650--Chapter 11 for specific requirements.

Information about taking a clinical exam, including the exam schedule and testing procedures, should be obtained directly from the testing agencies.

Remediation Requirements

Please note that applicants who fail the clinical licensing examination two or more times must submit proof of additional formal remedial education that is approved in advance by the Board, prior to each subsequent exam attempt. See Iowa Administrative Code 650--Chapter 12 for more information.

Jurisprudence Examination

Applicants for a permanent dental hygiene license must also take the Iowa jurisprudence examination. After you have submitted your application for licensure, Board staff will provide you information to take the exam. Make arrangements directly with one of the Iowa community college testing sites. Please note that a proctor fee set by the community college testing site for the jurisprudence exam will be paid directly to the community college testing site. After taking the examination, the testing site will mail or fax the answer sheet to the Board office for scoring. You will then receive written confirmation of your score.

The jurisprudence exam is based on information contained in Iowa Code chapters 147, 153, 272C, and 650 Iowa Administrative Code. To study for the exam, it is recommended that you download a copy of the Board rules from this website. A written copy of the rules may also be ordered for a small fee. The exam consists of multiple choice and true/false questions.

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