Dental Hygiene General Information
The dental hygiene licensure examination, administered by the Southern Regional Testing Agency, Inc., (SRTA), evaluates clinical judgment and performance. The examination is developed to provide a reliable clinical assessment for use by state boards in making valid licensing decisions. The examination in dental hygiene consists of:
  • Presenting a selection of teeth that meets all required criteria
  • Presenting radiographs that are of diagnostic quality
  • Detecting all types of dental calculus and recognizing when a surface is free of calculus
  • Completing a partial oral prophylaxis while preserving the integrity of surrounding tissue
  • Complete a partial periodontal assessment by recording of periodontal pocket depths
A passing grade is 75. Failure will require re-examination.

The current year SRTA Examination has been developed, administered, and reviewed in accordance with guidelines from the American Dental Association, the American Association of Dental Boards, the American Psychological Association the American Educational Research Association and the National Council on Measurement in Education. In addition, the examination undergoes annual stringent psychometric review and input from independent firm, Alpine Testing Solutions. The concerns of the students/candidates are addressed through input from former candidates and dental hygiene program faculty. Input from practicing dental hygienists is collected every five years through a nationwide Task Analysis Survey, which guides all decisions regarding content. The most recent Task Analysis Survey was conducted in 2011.

Clinical skills examinations administered by SRTA are conducted anonymously. All examination materials are identified by the candidate's SRTA number (assigned prior to the examination). The candidate's name or school information does not appear on any material. The examiners at all sites are experienced practitioners with diverse backgrounds. The examiners are calibrated and standardized prior to each examination and are evaluated to assure grading to established criteria.

All questions concerning examination procedures, content, applications, and examination dates should be sent to the SRTA corporate office. Email questions regarding the dental hygiene examination to or to for general questions. Be sure to include contact information.

Once an application has been processed for a particular site, all questions for both pre-examination and post-examination must be initiated by the candidate only. Due to confidentiality, the SRTA staff will not discuss candidate concerns and questions with a candidate's spouse, parent, faculty, family member, or friend.

The candidate must procure his/her own patient and is responsible for the patient's arrival and return. SRTA is not responsible for providing patients used in examinations. Candidates must advise patients of the time required to participate in this examination. Patients should expect to be at the testing site for a minimum of four hoursCase presentation is a scored part of the examination and should be completed independently. Opinions of professionals who are not calibrated to SRTA standards cannot be relied upon to ensure that all criteria are met. Candidates unable to secure a patient will not be eligible for a refund or credit toward a future examination attempt. Appeals based on issues such as patients handling the paperwork or inability to secure a patient will not be considered.

Patient eligibility:
  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Cannot be a dentist, dental hygienist, or a dental or dental hygiene student
  • May be a dental assistant
  • May not have a latex allergy
  • May not have received injectable bisphosphonate therapy
  • Cannot be a woman in either the first of the third trimester of pregnancy
  • Oral herpetic lesions: Patients who present with an oral herpetic lesion will be evaluated by a SRTA dentist serving as the Clinic Floor Coordinator. This dentist does not serve as an examiner but is the liaison between the candidates and the examiners. That dentist will determine if the patient can be safely treated or if the patient will be dismissed as ineligible.
Each patient to be treated must sign a Patient Disclaimer, Consent, and Release Form.

Both the candidate and patient must complete a Post Operative Care Agreement and an Incident Disclaimer form before any clinical procedure may commence. Two copies of the Post Operative Care Agreement, and one copy each of the Incident Disclaimer and the Patient Disclaimer, Consent, and Release forms are submitted during registration. The patient must also receive a copy of these forms.

The instruments required for the examiner to evaluate case presentation, calculus detection, and calculus removal skills are:
  1. Yellow-banded periodontal probe with markings of only 1-2-3-5-7-8-9-10 mm (Williams probe) or 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 (UNC probe.) The probe may be single ended or double ended. However, if providing a double ended probe, the unused end must be covered using autoclave tape. Candidates may use the brand or manufacturer of their choice. Bands must be yellow plus any other color, including bare metal.
  2. ODU or EXD 11/12 explorer for calculus detection and final evaluation of calculus removal. No other type of explorer will be accepted for examiner's use.
  3. A reflective front surface mouth mirror. May be one or two sided.
  4. All other instruments are the choice of the candidate.
  5. Syringes & supplies for anesthetic administration, if needed. The school will supply anesthetic cartridges for candidates. These will also be the choice of the candidate.
  6. Candidates must provide or have access to a blood pressure measuring device.

Candidate Qualifications
Final acceptance of candidates for the examination is contingent upon their being hygienists who are graduates of an American or Canadian dental hygiene college or program accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation or who will graduate from such an institution within twelve months of successful completion of the examination.

Application Process The online application was developed for the candidate's convenience. To apply online, go to and click the Start New Application link, which links to a secure website that requires the candidate's contact and school information. Gathering all required items prior to starting the online application will save significant time. Applicants will need:
  • A recent digital headshot of close proximity to the candidate is required for the online application. Candidates should be clearly distinguishable, as the photo will be printed at 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" on the candidate admission card. Photos must be in one of the following formats: JPG, GIF, or PNG.
  • A digital copy of current and valid CPR certification is required. Valid certification is defined as a "hands-on" training program that provides an assessment of cognitive skills and skills acquired via classroom training. A minimum of Basic CPR skills is required. Classes provided by Internet instruction are not acceptable.
  • A copy of the candidate's diploma from a CODA-accredited dental hygiene program must be provided in order for the profile to be valid. This document can be uploaded into the profile, faxed to the office, or emailed to Candidates who have not formally graduated from their university or dental hygiene program are required to secure certification from their Dean or Program Director stating:
    • The candidate is eligible and in the last semester of the graduation requirements.
    • The candidate will complete the graduation requirements within ten months of the examination date.
    • The candidate has successfully completed local anesthesia requirements, (only if the candidate plans to personally administer local anesthesia). This should include whether the candidate has been trained in infiltration techniques only or in both block and infiltration.
  • SRTA accepts VISA and MasterCard only. No international credit/debit cards will be accepted. Debit cards may be used if allowable by the issuing bank and if they bear the VISA or MasterCard logo. The total payment will include the facility fee (site specific; see Section II-C) as well as the examination fee. All payments are drawn immediately and must be paid in full. Failure to pay the application fee and facility fee at the time of application will forfeit the applicant's ability to sit for the examination. The Veterans Administration has approved the cost of the SRTA Dental Hygiene Examination for reimbursement. Contact the regional Veterans Affairs/Veterans Education Office to obtain the proper forms.
After the candidate has completed the application profile, the following steps will occur:
  • The application profile is complete and accepted by "Validation.” SRTA personnel will validate the profile only after all required profile information has been entered, uploaded, and received. Profiles without a photo or without CPR cards will not be validated. Please allow 2 to 3 days for validation. Only after a candidate's profile has been validated can he/she apply for an examination. With the exception of password changes, all profile changes will automatically mark the candidate temporarily invalid.
  • Application for the examination: Once all profile information has been uploaded and , candidates may apply for examinations. Simply click on "Apply" at the top of the screen to begin the application process. Detailed instructions will be presented based on the available examinations.
  • Candidates must visit the "Documents" portion of the secure site to download and complete all required documents for the examination. Instructions for each document are on the website. Some documents must be completed and returned to the SRTA office to the examination.

Application fees are not refundable and may not be applied to a future examination. Failure to appear for a scheduled examination will result in the loss of the candidate's fee unless the Agency has received written notification fifteen days prior to the application deadline - in such cases a 50% refund will be given. Refunds will not be given for a patient's failure to appear, non-acceptability of the case presented, or a candidate's inability to secure patients for the examination.

The Veterans Administration has approved the cost of the dental hygiene examination for reimbursement. Contact the regional Veterans Affairs/Veterans Education Office to obtain the proper forms.

Each candidate for examination must obtain a Dental Hygiene Candidate Guide. The manual contains a complete description of the examination, all criteria, examination schedule, and instructions. This guide and all required forms may be downloaded upon candidate registration.