Hygienists > Licensure

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” 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.

Eligibility for a Permanent License

A permanent dental hygiene license authorizes the holder to practice dental hygiene in the state of Iowa. Complete Board rules on eligibility requirements can be found in IAC 650--Chapter 11, which you can access here.

By Examination

A dental hygienist who is a graduate of an ADA-accredited dental hygiene school and who has completed the CRDTS within the last five (5) years, or has completed the WREB examination within the five (5) years prior to September 1, 2011, is eligible to apply for a dental hygiene license in Iowa on the basis of examination. A hygienist who has completed a different licensing examination or took an examination more than five years ago may be eligible to apply for a hygiene license on the basis of 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 hygiene license in another state that was issued on the basis of clinical examination, or if you hold a current valid license in another state and have at least three (3) years of current active practice in that state, you may be eligible to apply for license by credentials. To be eligible, you must have at least three years of current, active practice in that state. Please refer to Iowa Administrative Code 650--Chapter 11 for specific requirements.


View fee information for a permanent license

How to Obtain an Application

Download the application and forms

Eligibility for a Temporary Permit

A temporary permit may be issued to authorize a permit holder to practice dental hygiene on a short-term basis in Iowa at a specific location(s). Temporary permits may be issued only for the following reasons:

  1. To fulfill an urgent need;
  2. To serve an educational purpose; or
  3. To provide volunteer services.

A temporary permit is NOT meant as a way to practice before a permanent license is granted or as a means to practice because the applicant does not fulfill the requirements for a permanent license. Temporary permits may be granted on a case-by-case basis. The issuance of a temporary permit has no long-term implications for licensure.

Temporary permits are issued to applicants for practice at a specific location or locations in Iowa for a specified period, up to three months. If the need changes or the permit holder wishes to continue in short-term assignments in other Iowa locations, the permit holder is expected to seek permanent licensure. Following expiration of the permit, the permit holder must either obtain a new temporary permit to continue to practice in Iowa or obtain a permanent license. A person may be issued not more than three temporary permits to fulfill an urgent need or serve an educational purpose.

Application for a temporary permit requires the applicant to provide background information, copies of credentials, and verification of all credentials. Proof of current CPR is also required for temporary permit applicants. All temporary permit applicants must also submit a letter of need that establishes the need for the permit, dates the applicant’s services are needed, and the location or locations where services will be delivered.

To be eligible for a temporary permit to fulfill an urgent need or serve an educational purpose, applicants must hold an active license in another state that was issued on the basis of clinical examination and applicants must have been engaged in practice for three years immediately preceding application for the temporary permit. To be eligible for a temporary permit to provide volunteer services, applicants must hold an active, permanent license to practice in at least one state. The license must have been issued on the basis of clinical examination. A temporary permit to provide volunteer services is valid for a specific location, which must be a free clinic or a dental clinic for a nonprofit organization, and the applicant cannot receive compensation for providing dental services.

To find a complete list of all required documents and credentials, including a checklist for completing your application, visit the forms section of the website.


View fee information for a temporary permit

How to Obtain an Application

Download the application and forms


Clinical Examination

Applicants for a permanent dental hygiene license issued on the basis of clinical examination must complete the examination administered by either the Central Regional Dental Testing Service, Inc. (CRDTS) within the last five (5) years, or have completed the Western Regional Examining Board, Inc. (WREB) prior to September 1, 2011. If you did not complete the CRDTS examiantion within the last five (5) years, or the WREB examination prior to September 1, 2011, or if you completed a different clinical licensing examination, you may be eligible to apply for a license on the basis of credentials.

Information about taking the CRDTS exam, including the exam schedule and testing procedures should be obtained directly from CRDTS. Visit their website at www.crdts.org.

Please note that applicants who fail the clinical licensing examination two or more times must submit proof of additional formal education that is approved in advance by the Dental Hygiene Committee, prior to each subsequent exam attempt.

Jurisprudence Examination

Applicants for a permanent dental hygiene license must also take the Iowa jurisprudence examination. The exam consists of multiple choice and true or false questions. After you have submitted your application for licensure, the Board office will send you authorization to sit for the jurisprudence examination, as well as a list of testing sites. To take the examination, 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. Please note that due to confidentiality provisions in state law, exam results cannot be provided over the phone.

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.

Application Process

Completed Application Received & Reviewed

Applications are reviewed in the Board office in the order received. Priority of applications is assigned based on the date the application is received in the office and the date the office has a fully completed application. An application is not considered complete until all requested documentation has been received. Typically, it takes several weeks to review and issue a license or permit application. Please allow sufficient time for processing of your application.

To expedite processing of an application, be sure to include the required, nonrefundable fee (your application will not be reviewed without the fee) and submit all required documents and credentials. Each application has a checklist that details all required documents and credentials. Be sure to include all requested documentation and mail verification forms to the appropriate agency. Upon receipt, applications are reviewed for completeness. After reviewing each application, staff will notify the applicant about how to resolve any problems identified by the reviewers.

PLEASE NOTE: Applications are considered active for only 180 days from the date the application is received in the Board office. If an applicant has not supplied all requested documentation within180 days, a new application and fee must be submitted before a license will be issued. If the applicant does not meet the requirements for a license or permit, the application is considered incomplete. An applicant whose application is filed incomplete must submit a new application and fee.

Download the application and forms

Check the fee for a license or permit application

Administrative Issuance of License/Permit or Referral to the Dental Hygiene Commitee

If the final review indicates no questions or concerns regarding the applicant's qualifications for licensure, Board rules authorize the executive director to administratively grant the license or permit.

The executive director may also refer an application to the Dental Hygiene Committee for review and consideration when matters including, but not limited to, prior criminal history, chemical dependence, competency, physical or psychological illness, malpractice claims or settlements, or professional disciplinary history are relevant in determining the applicants’ qualifications for license, permit, or registration.

Following review and consideration of a referred application, the Dental Hygiene Committee may, at its discretion:

  • Defer final action if there is a pending investigation or disciplinary action;
  • Request that the applicant appear for an interview;
  • Recommend issuance of the license or permit;
  • Recommend denial of the license or permit; or
  • Recommend issuing the license or permit under certain terms and conditions or with certain restrictions.
  • Refer the license or permit application to the Board for review and consideration without recommendation.

Final Board Action on Committee Recommendation

Following review and consideration of an application referred by the Dental Hygiene Committee the Board takes final action to:

  1. Authorize the issuance of the license or permit,
  2. Deny the issuance of the license or permit, or
  3. Authorize the issuance of the license or permit under certain terms and conditions or with certain restrictions.

The Board may deny an application for license or permit for any of the following reasons:

  1. Failure to meet the requirements for the license or permit.
  2. Failure to provide accurate and truthful information, or the omission of material information.
  3. For any of the grounds for which licensure may be revoked or suspended.

Denial of Licensure – Appeal Process

Prior to denial of licensure, the Board issues a written Preliminary Notice of Denial that cites the factual basis for denying the application. An applicant who receives a Preliminary Notice of Denial may appeal the notice and request an appeal hearing. At the appeal hearing, the applicant has the burden to persuade the Board on their qualifications for licensure. After the hearing the Board may grant the license, grant the license with restrictions, or deny the license. If an applicant does not appeal a Preliminary Notice of Denial, the denial automatically becomes final within 30 days of mailing the Preliminary Notice of Denial. Both the Preliminary Notice of Denial and Final Decision of the Board is a public record.


Licenses & Permits Expire on August 31

All dental hygiene licenses and local anesthesia permits expire on August 31 of every odd-numbered year. Approximately 60 days prior to expiration of the license or permit, an application for renewal will be mailed to your preferred mailing address.

Renewal Application Requirements

To renew a dental hygiene license or local anesthesia permit the following must be submitted to the Board office on or before August 31st:

  1. Completed renewal application with all questions answered;
  2. Proof of current certification in CPR (copy of front and back of card must be provided);
  3. Payment of renewal fee; and
  4. Certification of completion of 30 hours of continuing education or an approved exemption. Please refer here for additional information pertaining to continuing education requirements.

Late Fees

After August 31, a late fee for renewal is assessed. View late renewal fees here. Failure to renew prior to November 1 shall cause the license to lapse and become invalid for practice. If your license has lapsed, you will be required to submit an application for reinstatement of the license, including required documents and credentials, the reinstatement application fee, and payment of all past due renewal fees.

Reinstatement of a Lapsed License

A dental hygienist who allows a license to lapse by failing to renew may be reinstated at the discretion of the Board. To request reinstatement of a lapsed license, the following information must be submitted to the Board office:

  1. A completed application for reinstatement of a lapsed license;
  2. Written verification of any licenses held in other states;
  3. Reasons for seeking reinstatement and why the license was not maintained;
  4. Proof of current CPR certification;
  5. Evidence of completion of a total of 15 hours of continuing education for year the license was lapsed, up to a maximum of 75 hours; and
  6. Payment of all renewal fees past due, not to exceed $750, plus the reinstatement fee and fingerprint evaluation fee.

The Board may require a licensee applying for reinstatement to successfully complete an examination designated by the Board prior to reinstatement if necessary to ensure the licensee is able to practice with reasonable skill and safety. The Board typically requires re-examination if a licensee has not provided clinical patient care in the previous five years.

When the Board finds that a practitioner applying for reinstatement is or has been subject to disciplinary action taken against a license held by the applicant in another state of the United States, District of Columbia, or territory, and the violations which resulted in such actions would also be grounds for discipline in Iowa, the Board may deny reinstatement of a license to practice dentistry in Iowa or may impose any applicable disciplinary sanctions as a condition of reinstatement.


Check the fee for a reinstatement application

How to Obtain an Application

Download the application and forms


To request a written verification/certification of your Iowa license and/or permit, please complete the request form and submit the form to the Board office with the appropriate fees. You may access that form here.