The National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE) is offered under the auspices of the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations, an independent agency of the American Dental Association. The NBDHE assists state boards in evaluating qualifications of dental hygienists for licensure. NBDHE certification is accepted in all states as fulfilling all or part of the written examination requirements for licensure. 

Q: How many questions are there in the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE)?

There are 350 multiple-choice examination questions in total; these can be divided into 2 groups;

  • 200 questions in Component A (Scientific Basis for Dental Hygiene Practice, Provision of Clinical Dental Hygiene Services and Community Health/Research Principles).
  • 150 questions in Component B (12 to 15 dental hygiene patient cases).

Q: What types of questions will I see in the NBDHE?

There are 4 main types of questions in the exam. Each question has 3-5 possible choices, among which only one is considered correct or the best.

Below are the types of questions you will find:

  • Completion - Q: Cluster of sebaceous glands observed on the buccal mucosa is,

A. Linea alba
B. Lipoma
C. Fordyce granule
D. Mucocele

  • Question - Q: Which type of hypersensitivity has the MOST delayed response?

A. Type I
B. Type II
C. Type III
D. Type IV

  • Negative - Q: The following conditions are contraindicated for the use of nitrous oxide, EXCEPT one. Which one is the EXCEPTION?

A. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
B. Asthma
C. Cystic fibrosis
D. Pregnancy

  • Paired True-False - Q: Protection from excessive exposure to radiation is aided by the use of aluminum filters and a lead diaphragm. The filters reduce the amount of soft radiation reaching the patient’s face, and the diaphragm controls the area exposed.

A. Both statements are true.
B. Both statements are false.
C. The first statement is true, the second is false.
D. The first statement is false, the second is true.

Answers: 1) C; 2) D; 3) B; 4) A

Q: What is a testlet?

  • A Testlet consists of a case study or problem with a set of associated test items. The testlets are used for items related to the Community Health/Research Principles section. Here is an example of a testlet:

Community Profile: The primary employers in this county have been coal mining companies. The unemployment rate in the county has increased by 32 percent since the closing of the coal mine companies.
The median age of the population is forty-six. In the county, there are five general dentists, three dental hygienists, and one public health-centered dental clinic. The clinic employs a full-time dentist and a dental hygienist. The public health clinic sees low-income children and senior citizens on a sliding fee schedule. The community does not have water fluoridation because of multiple water sources. The state funds a 0.2%-sodium fluoride rinse program in grades K-5. The state mandates that a dentist or a dental hygienist perform deft/dmft/DMFT and GI indices on all students in grades 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, and 10. On a yearly basis, all pathology is brought to the patient’s attention and referred to a dental professional.

1. Which population group is dentally underserved in this community?

  1. Adult age.
  2. Geriatric age.
  3. Early childhood age.
  4. Elementary age.

2. Which next step should the dental hygienist take in program planning after selecting the target population?

  1. Appraise the program.
  2. Define goals for the program.
  3. Compile data on the target group population.
  4. Develop educational components.
  5. Identify manpower resources in the community.

3. Each of the following is perceived as a barrier to dental care for this community EXCEPT one. Which one is the EXCEPTION?

  1. Geographic isolation.
  2. Lack of water fluoridation.
  3. Maldistribution of providers.
  4. Lack of affordable services.
  5. Loss of income and insurance.

4. How often should the fluoride rinse for grades K-5 be performed?

  1. Daily.
  2. Weekly.
  3. Monthly.
  4. Three times a week.
  5. Based on the caries of the child.

Answers: 1) A; 2) C; 3) B; 4) B

Q: What is a case study?

  • Session two of the NBDHE (National Dental Hygiene Board Examination) consists of 12-15 cases studies.
  • Each case study features radiographs, photographs, chart, and patient history.

StudentRDH dental hygiene (online) boards prep solution features case studies. Find them under NBDHE Mock exam when you sign up. 

Q: What is the passing grade?

  • The status of “pass” is granted if you achieve a standard score of 75 or higher.
  • A candidate’s total score is calculated by the total number of correct answers selected by the candidate, which is adjusted for any minor differences in difficulty across NBDHE forms (i.e., scaled).

Q: When are the results reported?

  • National Board Examination results are made available approximately three to four weeks after the examination. Results can be viewed online by logging in to the My Account Summary page.
  • StudentRDH past users report that they received the results about 2 weeks after the examination.

Q: Will I receive a score or is it pass/fail result?

  • The results for the NBDHE will be reported as pass only for candidates who pass the test.
  • Candidates who fail the examination will receive numerical scores for each of the major disciplines covered on the test.

"I studied with StudentRDH only, and I PASSED!" - John V, Boston, MA

Q: How much is the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE)?

  • NBDHE fee: $440, which includes official score reporting, three dental licensing jurisdictions, and the dental hygiene program director of your dental hygiene school.
  •  Rescheduling should take place at least 24 hours before the appointment and within the authorized eligibility period.

Q: What is the schedule on the day of the exam?

  • The exam day will be scheduled as follows:
    • Optional tutorial - 15 minutes
    • Session one (Discipline-based items, 200 items) - 3.5 hours
    • NOTE: There is an optional 15 mins break between the first 100 questions and the next 100 questions
    • Optional schedule break - 30 minutes
    • Session two (Patient case items, 150 items) - 4 hours
    • NOTE: There is an optional 15 mins break between the first 75 questions and the next 75 questions.
    • Optional post-examination - 15 minutes
    • Total time - 9 hours
  • If you take a break at any other time, it will be considered an “unscheduled” break.

Q: How can I cancel or reschedule the exam?

  • You may cancel or reschedule electronically at 24 hours prior to the scheduled testing date.

Q: What if my address changed or my name does not match my application?

  • Address changes must be received in writing via fax (312-587-4105) before your testing appointment, or you will be required to complete an additional score report request.
  • If your address changes after you submit your application and before you receive your score report, you must update your DENTPIN record and notify the JCNDE at [email protected].
    • Updates you make in the DENTPIN system do not automatically update your testing application or score report request.

Q: What do I need to prepare the day of the exam?

  • Two (2) original and current (not expired) forms of identification (ID).
    • The primary ID must be a government-issued ID bearing your photo and signature (e.g., passport, driver’s license, etc.).
    • The secondary ID must bear your signature (e.g., debit card, library card, credit card, etc.).
    • Both forms of ID must be current (not expired).
    • The name on your IDs must exactly match the name provided on the application.
  • Any personal belongings brought to the test center must be stored in the designated locker.
  • Cellular phones are not allowed anywhere in the test center and may not be used during an unscheduled break.
  • Download and print the checklist available at:

Q: How do I make notes?

  • You will be provided with a note board and a low-odor fine tip marker to be used during the examination. Scratch paper, pencils, or markers not furnished by the testing center are not permitted.

StudentRDH’s advice

Use an online review tool that tests your knowledge on the computer. If you get used to studying and taking tests on paper, you are at higher risk for failure.

Here is the science: Social media has trained us to read fast on the computer. If you did NOT retrain yourself to read carefully on the computer, all your hard work in dental hygiene school would go down the drain.

The only way to overcome this challenge is by using a dental hygiene boards prep tool that is built into the computer, just like StudentRDH.

Failing the exam is costly. It is financially and emotionally draining. Find a way to get prepared as much as possible. We would like to emphasize the need for a STEP by STEP dental hygiene boards prep that gives you everything you need.

Study guides + Quiz + Mock exam.

It is extremely important that you prepare yourself for the computer exam. Students who have only used books are likely to panic when seeing the computer exam for the first time in their lives. The format was not what they expected, and frustration pushed them to fail. Prevent this by using a dental hygiene boards prep that is built on the computer, such as StudentRDH. Don’t make mistakes others have made. Be a #SUCCESS.

NO time to waste!

If I fail the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE), can I get an audit?

  • You can request an audit if you fail your exams. You have to request it within 30 days of the reporting of the official report results.
  • The audit will re-check the accuracy of the exam.
  • You may request the audit via mail but there is a fee.

Q: Can I retake the exam?

  • Candidates who have not passed must wait for a minimum of 90 days between test attempts.
  • Candidates who have not passed an examination after three attempts will be required to wait 12 months after their third attempt before they can apply for reexamination.

Q: Where can I find sample questions?

  • The ADA provides some sample questions for the NBDHE
  • StudentRDH has a FREE trial. NO risk at all!     

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