Frequently Asked Questions

What is a dental hygienist

Dental hygienists are primary oral health care professionals who provide clinical assessments and therapy, oral health education, and offer health promotion strategies to people of all ages. Dental hygienists practise in a variety of settings, including public health, dental hygiene practice, dental offices, hospitals, long-term care facilities, educational institutions, and in dental industry. Many dental hygienists also conduct or participate in research studies to expand the scientific basis of dental hygiene practice.

What do dental hygienists do?

Dental hygienists provide individualized, systematic oral health care. They:

  • Examine the mouth, oral tissues, head, and neck to identify strengths, needs, and concerns related to your oral health
  • Formulate a dental hygiene diagnosis
  • Work collaboratively with you to develop goals and plan the appropriate care to meet your oral health needs
  • Perform preventive and therapeutic procedures, such as periodontal therapy (removing calculus and plaque from your teeth), take radiographs (x-rays), apply fluoride to prevent tooth decay, and provide support for healthy lifestyle choices in the form of smoking cessation strategies, nutritional counselling, and oral cancer screening.
  • Evaluate your progress in achieving optimal oral health

How are dental hygienists educated?

Dental hygienists are educated at four universities and thirty-three colleges across Canada. The dental hygiene curriculum consists of a variety of subject areas including but not limited to microbiology and infection control, anatomy and physiology, nutrition and health, health promotion and disease prevention. While most dental hygienists in Canada hold a 3-year college diploma, an increasing number have gone on to complete bachelor’s and master’s degrees in dental hygiene, dental science, public health and health sciences.

Who governs dental hygienists?

Regulatory Authorities in Canada. In order to practice in Canada, dental hygienists must be registered or licensed by the appropriate provincial or territorial dental hygiene regulatory authorities. Requirements for registration or licensure varies by province or territory, including differences in clinical experience, examinations required, and continuing education requirements.

If you have a concern about the practice of a dental hygienist, contact your province's regulatory authority.

What are my rights as a client?

The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association now offers the public a Dental Hygiene Client's Bill of Rights. It provides information on your rights when receiving dental hygiene care and what to expect of your dental hygienist. By understanding your rights you will make better decisions regarding your own oral health.

Please click here to view the Dental Hygiene Client's Bill of Rights, in PDF format.

    How do I find a dental hygienist?

    Use the new find an independent dental hygienist module, of course!