It's Not Just Teeth that Sparkle in the Dental Hygiene Program

dental hygiene students after completing the WREB exam
Rebecca A. Eckland

Lyndie Anderson, who recently graduated from the four-year Dental Hygiene program at TMCC, has had a lifelong interest in dentistry. While Anderson shadowed many dental professionals during her college career including an orthodontist and oral surgeon, she was most compelled to look more deeply at the reality of a career in dental hygiene. “Every hygienist I talked to told me about the benefits of the career and how they love their job. I love knowing that I can help patient’s oral hygiene and smiles...and as a hygienist, you could have relationships with patients you see every 3-6 months. That’s the best part of the job,” she said.

However, in order to become a practicing dental hygienist, one must not only graduate from an accredited program but also obtain licensure. For TMCC dental hygiene program graduates, this is the Western Regional Examination Board (WREB). “The exam evaluates our competency to clean a quadrant successfully,” Anderson explained. 

The WREB exam also requires that the graduate find a patient with very specific attributes, as far as their oral health is concerned. “There are many components that our patient needs to meet, like how much tartar they have. We have to complete a comprehensive periodontal assessment on the teeth in the quadrant and then clean them until they sparkle,” she said.

TMCC Becomes a WREB Testing Site

This year, in addition to witnessing the first graduates of the four-year bachelor of science degree cross the commencement stage, the Dental Hygiene program also boasts a newly renovated dental clinic. Due to the renovated space, TMCC applied to become a WREB testing site. 

“Becoming a host testing site also opens up our campus and clinic to other dental hygiene graduates and professionals from around the country who need to pass the WREB for state licensing and to practice dental hygiene,” said Dental Hygiene Program Director Lori McDonald.

Previously, graduates of TMCC’s dental hygiene program took the WREB exam at the closest testing sites, which were located in San Francisco and Las Vegas. This was an added challenge to graduates: not only did they have to find the perfect patient, but they had to cover accommodation and travel expenses for both themselves and the patient to get to a testing site. 

“Having the testing site on campus helped me tremendously,” said Anderson. “It was so comfortable to sit for a stressful exam in a clinic we have been treating patients in for two years. We knew where everything was, and it was a familiar setting. It also saved us so much money….the previous students would have to travel to [Oregon, Utah, Las Vegas or San Francisco], make sure their patients safely traveled to the testing site, cover both parties’ travel expenses, and take an exam at a school they are unfamiliar with. I can’t even express how lucky we were to take the exam at TMCC,” she said. 

Helping Students Achieve Success

Anderson and her peers took the WREB exam at TMCC on June 3-5. “It was a wonderful experience,” said McDonald. “All our 2021 graduates passed the difficult exam with excellent scores.” 

Looking back on her experience at TMCC, Anderson expresses gratitude for a program that has prepared her in every way for a successful career. “TMCC’s Dental Hygiene Program definitely set us up for success for the WREB and the real world,” she said. “The instructors went above and beyond in teaching us everything we need to know. Even some of the dentists I have interviewed for have mentioned that they know I’m well-trained because I went to TMCC. I couldn’t have asked for a better program to graduate from.” 

For more information about the Dental Hygiene Program at TMCC, contact the department at 775-673-8247.