Free NBDHE Practice Test

The National Board Dental Hygiene Exam (NBDHE) certification has 350 questions in a multiple-choice format. There are two separate components to the test. The first section is comprised of basic knowledge areas within the context of Dental Hygiene Practice and Services. There are 200 questions covering three content areas:

  • Scientific Basis for Dental Hygiene Practice
  • Provision of Clinical Dental Hygiene Services
  • Community Health/Research Principles

An additional 150 multiple-choice questions are presented in the second component of the test. This second set of questions, however, is based on case studies of between 12 and 15 individual samples. The dental hygiene examinee must answer this second set of questions based on the conditions presented in the case study samples.

The case studies used for this part of the test provide a wide demographic sampling of patients presenting different problems and challenges for the dental hygienist. Specific patient types that may be encountered among these case studies include children; the elderly; individuals with compromised immune systems or other medical problems; individuals with periodontal disease; and individuals with special needs. Case-based challenges pose questions in the area of assessment, planning for future care, periodontal techniques, preventive measures and agents, and care management. Medical histories, x-rays, photographs and dental charts are used to present the problems in this portion of the test, and the challenges posed must be addressed correctly by the hygienist seeking this certification.

The National Board Dental Hygiene Examination is given three times a year, in the months of March, July, and December. Application deadlines may vary from one to two months for registration, so it is necessary to check the deadline for each regularly-scheduled examination date. Registration can be conducted online or by mail.

A passing score on the NBDHE examination is 75. That number is a scaled score, converted from a raw score determined by the number of questions answered correctly. The minimum scaled score is 49, and the maximum scaled score is 99. Results are mailed within six to eight weeks after the completion of the examination. Those who fail to receive an acceptable passing score of 75 may take the test again, but three failures on the test set a precondition of a one-year wait before the individual can take the test again.

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Practice Questions

1. Which fibrous ligament connects the alveolar process to the root?

a. Anterior crucial ligament
b. Cricothyroid ligament
c. Peritoneal ligament
d. Periodontal ligament

2. From the following list select three statements that are true regarding fluoride.

a. Fluorine, the precursor to fluoride, is a naturally occurring element found in air and water.
b. Fluoride is the result of sodium bicarbonate mixing underground with clean well water.
c. The practice of civilized water fluoridation in populated areas is supported by scientific research to help prevent widespread tooth decay in children and adults.
d. Persons who are at risk of developing early gum disease in their teens are recommended to buy meat and dairy products injected with antibiotics to support their immune system.
e. The level of fluoride recommended in drinking water for optimal dental health is 10.0 ppm.
f. Fluoridation of city water systems has been common practice in the U.S. since World War II.
g. Young children who ingest too much fluoride early in life develop teeth with short roots.

3. Order the following 1-4 to show the most reasonable steps in conducting a periodontal exam.

___ Collect samples from the pockets to conduct a bacterial evaluation by microscope.
___ Do a visual inspection of the gums, connective tissues, lips and tongue.
___ Measure the distance ranging between 1 and 12 mm of the gum tissue from the tooth.
___ Grow a culture of the bacteria collected to exactly identify strain and variety.

4. Which of the following are specific reasons pregnant women should floss their teeth every day?

a. Unhealthy gums bleed, allowing bacteria to travel through the bloodstream to the fetus.
b. Once your gums are damaged the effects can never be reversed or improved.
c. Flossing to remove plaque bacteria can help reduce the risk of low birth weights.
d. The changes in hormones during the first and second trimesters increase the risk of gingivitis.
e. The gums release special hormones that help teach your baby how to breastfeed.
f. Flossing releases insulin from the gums, which can improve your blood sugar while pregnant.

5. For each symptom named below, match the corresponding disorder from the list provided.



___ 1. Migraine headaches

___ 2. Canker sore, aphthous ulcer, or noncancerous blister

___ 3. Bright red, smooth area (erythroplakia)

___ 4. Lines of lesions that form a lacy-looking network

___ 5. Black tongue

a. Oral cancer

b. Lichen planus

c. Sutton’s disease

d. TMJ disorder

e. Sjögren's Syndrome


1. D: The root of every tooth is attached to the alveolar processes by the periodontal ligament (PDL). Like all ligaments, the periodontal ligament is made up of fibrous connective tissues stretched between two points, in this case the fundus socket and the gingival mucosa holding the tooth firmly in place.

2. A, C and F are true statements. B, D, E and G are false statements.
B is false because fluoride is derived from hydrofluoric acid.
D is false because persons at risk of tooth decay are recommended to brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
E is false because the correct measurement is 1.0 ppm.
G is false because young children who overingest fluoride develop white spots on the enamel.

3. The most reasonable order of steps for conducting a periodontal exam is
1 - Do a visual inspection of the gums, connective tissues, lips and tongue.
2 - Measure the distance ranging between 1 and 12 mm of the gum tissue from the tooth.
3 - Collect samples from the pockets to conduct a bacterial evaluation by microscope.
4 - Grow a culture of the bacteria collected to exactly identify strain and variety.

4. A, C and D are true. B, E and F are NOT true.
B is not true. Damage to gums can be improved or completely reversed if addressed early and with professional intervention.
E is not true. The gums of mammalian species do not excrete any hormones.
F is not true. Flossing between the teeth does not release insulin.




D 1. Migraine headaches

C 2. Canker sore, aphthous ulcer, or noncancerous blister

A 3. Bright red, smooth area (erythroplakia)

B 4. Lines of lesions that form a lacy-looking network

E 5. Black tongue

a. Oral cancer

b. Lichen planus

c. Sutton’s disease

d. TMJ disorder

e. Sjögren's Syndrome

Dental Assistant Salary

There are many employment opportunities for a dental assistant, so for someone considering this profession, the first step is to have a good understanding of what is expected.

To begin with, training from an accredited institute is important in building your career. Most people who do well in science classes in high school typically do well in dental assistant programs. Dental assistant programs usually take about ten months to complete and are offered at many community colleges, trade schools, technical institutes, and dental and career schools. A dental assistant curriculum includes a history of medicine, lessons on working with patients, topics in medical law and ethics, and appointments and reports. Dental assistants learn about their roles as part of a health care team, infection control, and medical and dental emergencies. Dental assistants are trained in nutrition, dental anatomy, oral exams, and dental charting and instruments. Students learn about pharmacology and anesthesia, pediatric dentistry, oral and maxillofacial surgery, and oral pathology. The dental assistant gains experience in digital imaging systems, mounting dental X-rays, and labeling and filing dental X-rays. Most programs assist students in their job searches and with employment opportunities upon completion. Once the dental assistant program is completed, the student must pass an extensive exam of about 320 questions, which takes about four hours to complete. Passing this exam leads to official certification from the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). A certified dental assistant salary is higher than an uncertified assistant.

Dental assistants who want to specialize in other tasks, such as radiology, need additional training and must complete a Radiation Health and Safety exam offered by the DANB. In this role, the dental assistant prepares the dental equipment prior to the patient's arrival. The dental assistant records and maintains medical and dental histories. The assistant supports the dentist with extractions by removing stitches and applying anesthetics or cavity preventive agents using swabs and suction. During a procedure, the dental assistant may sterilize equipment, prepare trays, and hand instruments to the dentist. He or she may also take X-rays and impressions for casts. The dental assistant may make temporary crowns and polish removable appliances. The assistant gives patients instructions on postoperative procedures and removes excess cement in the filling process.

The dental assistant does all office, laboratory, and patient care that are different tasks than the dental hygienist. They may greet patients, order supplies, and manage bills and payments. To be a good dental assistant, a person should have good interpersonal and communication skills. Organizational skills and time management are also very important. The dental assistant should be compassionate and empathetic toward other people's concerns. Many people have a fear of the dentist's office and dental procedures, so the dental assistant should be able to help ease a patient's mind. The dental assistant should be able to provide advice and guidance on how to clean teeth and maintain oral hygiene.

According to, a dental assistant salary is attractive in most states. For those people who earn an hourly wage, the rate is between $9.75 and $19.31. Salaried employees earn $20,000 to $41,000 a year. Some professionals are eligible to receive overtime, bonuses, and profit sharing. Women dominate the field at 95 percent of the occupation. About 41 percent of dental assistants have between one and four years of experience. After the fourth year, many may go on to become office managers, dental assisting instructors, or sales representatives. Many do decide to go back to school to become dental hygienists. The highest dental assistant salaries go to individuals with dental assistant diplomas.


Last Updated: 03/01/2017

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