1: Preparing for the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination

CHAPTER 1 Preparing for the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination


The National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE) is developed and administered by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations of the American Dental Association. This examination fulfills or partially fulfills the examination requirement in all 50 states of the United States and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Individual states determine the acceptance of the examination as a requirement, the period before expiration of results, and the percentage score accepted as passing. (See the WebLinks image on the CD-ROM that accompanies the textbook for contact sites and candidate guidelines.)

The purpose of the NBDHE is to determine the professional competency of applicants for licensure. The examination assesses the candidate’s ability to recall, analyze, and apply basic information and concepts typically taught in the dental hygiene curriculum.

The NBDHE is in English and consists overall of 350 multiple-choice questions. Of this total, approximately 200 questions are traditional (stand-alone) multiple-choice questions and the remaining 150 questions are based on approximately 12 to 15 dental hygiene treatment cases. The examination is comprehensive in that it covers topics taught to enable competency in performing dental hygiene care as determined by delegated functions of dental hygienists in the majority of the nation.

More specifically, Component A of the examination, the stand-alone multiple-choice section, has 176 independent items in the areas of basis for dental hygiene practice (~30%) and provision of clinical dental hygiene services (~60%) and 24 testlet-dependent items on community health or research principles (~10%).

Multiple-choice questions contain a question stem and four or five answer choices (see later discussion of question types, test-taking strategies, and test anxiety). Each question has only one CORRECT answer. It is important to note that some of the questions are only for trial run to see if they will be included in future tests. Passage of the NBDHE requires a score of 75% or greater.

Component B of the examination contains 12 to 15 case-based problems with comprehensive scenarios (discussed later) that describe a specific situation and require you to demonstrate skill in the following areas:

The case-based scenarios may include descriptions, photographs, illustrations, radiographs, dental and periodontal data, or other information necessary to present the case of both adult and child patients. Each case is followed by multiple-choice test items related to the scenario. Each examination includes at least one case regarding the following types of patients who may be encountered in dental practice: Geriatric, Adult-periodontal, Pediatric, Special Needs, and Medically Compromised; 80% of cases concern adult patients, and 20% children. Just as in a real dental setting, many distractions will be included!


The updated new second edition of this text has been prepared by well-respected dental hygiene educators who have researched the topics and concepts needed to succeed on the NBDHE. One author has been a member of the board examination basic science committee in the past and has textbooks on various dental science topics that are used in many dental hygiene programs in the United States and abroad. The other author owns her own NDHBE review company and conducts review courses for the board exam in venues across the United States. Both authors have worked hard to ensure that the text is to the point and easy to read and use as a study guide.

The material contained in the NBDHE is primarily applicable to dental hygiene practice. Success on the national board examination means that the test taker has an adequate understanding of the concepts and applications of the dental hygiene knowledge base. This updated edition of the textbook consists of 18 chapters. Its newly produced image CD-ROM has a simulated NBDHE as well as other IMPORTANT and fun study features. The chapters provide a comprehensive review of basic knowledge of dental hygiene scientific subjects that are MORE likely to appear on the NBDHE, as well as complete discussion of each of the possible types of patients who may appear in the cases on the examination. The material provided is so much MORE than flash cards or dental study facts!

Each chapter in the new edition includes a short-form clinical study and/or testlet. It is a short-form case study, since it is without the photographs, illustrations, radiographs, and dental and periodontal data normally present for a complete clinical study. However, these are used to illustrate IMPORTANT application of content in the chapter and contain a scenario filled with common problems followed by a series of related open-ended questions with answers and rationale. Presenting clinical studies in this updated form FIRST is helpful in improving analytical and application skills. Even though testlets are used mainly with community health activity items on the NBDHE, a careful study of these short-form clinical studies and/or testlets with their discussions will help prepare you for more complex cases with closed-ended questions that appear on the NBDHE and for situations that arise in clinical practice.

Along with each clinical study is a comprehensive review of the subject with relevant material updated for this new edition. We recommend that you read each clinical study both before and after reviewing the chapter content related to it. After you study the entire chapter’s content review and clinical studies, answer the review questions at the end of the chapter and compare the answers with those in the rationale section that follows. Questions included were specifically developed to be SIMILAR in format, content, and depth to those that appear on the NBDHE. The rationale with answer key is particularly useful because it contains discussion of why certain answers are correct or incorrect. Thus it can help you BETTER understand why one answer choice is better than another choice. In addition, the index in the text is a useful resource to look up information about a specific term or topic that comes up during your study for the examination.

CD-ROM with the Textbook

image The CD-ROM accompanying the textbook has many sections useful in studying for the NDHBE.

The Computer-Simulated National Board Dental Hygiene Examination is comparable in length, format, and difficulty to the NBDHE. The computer-simulated examination can be taken as a timed examination or can be browsed through during initial studies.

The computer-simulated examination is broken down into two parts. Component A contains 200 randomly ordered, multiple-choice questions covering basic dental hygiene science, provision of clinical dental hygiene services, and community health activities. Rationales for all questions are included.

Component B consists of 15 case-based studies developed to help you assess, plan, integrate, evaluate, and analyze clinical information. The case studies, selected to imitate situations a dental hygienist might encounter in practice, require you to carefully assess the information provided, including medical and dental data, photographs, and radiographs (enlarged slightly for learning purposes) to answer 150 case-specific questions. A thorough study of this section of the simulated examination will help you develop the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully manage the cases presented on the NBDHE and in clinical practice. Rationales for all questions are included.

Additional study resources on the CD-ROM include the following:

Jan 1, 2015 | Posted by in Dental Hygiene | Comments Off on 1: Preparing for the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination
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