Honouring those who have made outstanding contributions

awardsAs your professional association, BCDHA advocates on behalf of the profession and is dedicated to the principle that all British Columbians should have access to the quality preventative oral health services dental hygienists provide. BCDHA collaborates with government, the provincial dental hygiene regulatory body and clients to effectively serve members and the public. Members receive a variety of benefits and have access to professional development, education and other resources as well.

In addition to this work, BCDHA takes great pride in being able to recognize outstanding members of the profession.

Please take a few minutes to review our Awards and nominate colleagues and collaborators for:

  • Lifetime Membership- applications due by September 8th.
  • Honourary Membership- applications due by September 8th.
  • Barbara J. Heisterman Award for Outstanding Innovation and Commitment to Care- applications due by December 31, 2016

Learn more by going to,  http://www.bcdha.com/?page_id=550.

A Reminder in Light of Current Events

self-regRecently in the Globe and Mail there was an article addressing the principle behind self-regulating professions and in particular the recent decision by the B.C. Liberals to withdraw the Real Estate Council of British Columbia’s ability to regulate the real estate profession in B.C.  After years of consumer complaints and problems in the real-estate industry, self- regulation in real estate is gone. Many in B.C. will also remember that B.C teachers lost the privilege of self-regulation several years ago.

This is not to suggest in any way that dental hygiene, or any other health profession, will head down a similar path.  In fact the regulators of the health professions which include 22 Colleges that oversee the 24 professions regulated under the Health Professions Act (HPA), have been unique and forward thinking in uniting under the Health Professionals Regulators of BC (HRPBC), and in their desire to collaborate more and embark on campaigns that help the public understand the role of the regulator.  This group has understood that self-regulation is a privilege to be undertaken by committed regulators who all share the same goals.  It also bears noting that the nursing colleges, the College of Registered Nurses of BC, the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of BC and the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of BC, are working to co-create a single nursing regulator.

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UBC’s Faculty of Dentistry Dental Hygiene Degree Program fourth year students advocacy projects




Every year BCDHA waits in anticipation to receive an invitation to attend the presentation of advocacy projects by UBC’s Faculty of Dentistry Dental Hygiene Degree Program fourth year students.  We were pleased that once again Diana Lin, a Clinical Assistant Professor with the UBC Faculty of Dentistry and class Instructor, extended an invitation to come and hear the fantastic work these students have done.

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“Partnering to End Violence Against Women”

BCDHA_sign_for_EVABC_xsmall_dp“In BC, there are over 1000 physical or sexual assaults against women every week.”(from EVA BC- http://endingviolence.org/prevention-programs/be-more-than-a-bystander/be-more-than-a-bystander-statistics/ )

A recent partnership between the BCDHA and the Ending Violence Association of BC (EVA BC) places dental hygienists in a key role in helping to intervene in individual situations and bring more general awareness to violence against women. Nearly 75% of physical injuries received during episodes of violence against women by an intimate partner are inflicted to the head, face, mouth and neck.  Dental hygienists are in a unique position to be among the first health care professionals to recognize signs of abuse and help survivors.  They may also witness behavioural indicators of abuse in their practice setting, such as interactions between partners.

A further dialogue with Tracy Porteous, Executive Director of EVA BC, about violence against women helped to further strengthen the connection between BCDHA and EVA BC and how each of us has an opportunity and responsibility to recognize the signs of violence and break the historical silence surrounding these issues.

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“I’m a Dental Hygienist…ASK Me What I Do!”

20150312_105645_resizedRecently BCDHA launched a button campaign called “I’m a Dental Hygienist…ASK Me What I Do!”. The primary goal of the campaign is to help inform the public about the key role dental hygienists play in health maintenance and promotion.  BCDHA has compiled some member stories about how dental hygienists have been able to educate clients and colleagues about the profession.

Be sure to sound off in the comments! Have you fielded a question about the profession that you want to share?   Let us know!

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Thank you are the only words- By Alison Sawyer


Good oral care has always been part of my life. My Mom and Dad ensured we went to the dental office twice a year and, for the most part, nothing was really scary or bad about it.  As an adult, paying for my own care, I’ve done pretty well.  Fairly regular and no problems.  Generally my teeth have been pretty good. One cavity in my whole life and only one weirdness in that I don’t have adult teeth under two of my molars (41 and I still have two baby teeth!).   When I became a Mom for the first time 12 years ago, the kids took priority.  Hubby and I have always worked on our own so dental plans have come and gone depending on how the money was coming in.  And, the kids are the priority. Period.

A few months ago I started to have some pain in my upper jaw.  I had a bad cold and attributed it to a sinus infection. I also have a wisdom tooth that while mostly in, sometimes flares up.  When the sinus infection went away and the pain lingered I figured it was this annoying wisdom tooth that I was going to have to get rid of.

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“Exploring our Capacity” by Sherry Saunderson, RDH

The following blog post is written by Sherry Saunderson, RDH. Sherry challenges her dental hygiene colleagues to utilize their role as primary care providers to think outside of the box and ask difficult questions that confront the status quo.  Thank you Sherry for sharing your thoughts!   

I received a Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA) membership email last January and was enthused to see that the theme of the CDHA 2015 Conference is “EXPLORE”, and that it is close to home this year taking place in Victoria, B.C.

EXPLORE is such a rich and wide theme area to cover as my profession evolves. In my eyes, the theme goes beyond the limiting ways we have been forced to practice up until recently. As I read my CDHA update, I continued to reflect even further on what this theme means to the profession.

EXPLORE could mean: travel in or through an unfamiliar area, search for, examine closely, inquire into or discuss in detail… (Dictionary.com). Or: to investigate into, especially mechanically, as with a probe (Random House College Dictionary, Revised Edition).


As dental hygienists, we can interpret EXPLORE in many ways because dental hygiene care and service can follow so many paths.


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Dental Hygienists Make a Difference

autismIn the spring of 2015, BCDHA ran a contest called “Dental Hygienists Make a Difference”. Members of the public were invited to submit stories of the excellent work done by dental hygienists every day, all over B.C.  Louise Witt submitted the winning nomination based on the excellent work done by Kayla Ragosin-Miller, RDH.

Congratulations to both of you on your prize winning entry!

“Advocating for positive change for children with autism”

Louise Witt knows what it means to advocate.  As a social worker she has spent much of her career advocating for her clients and when she became a Mom to son Jack who has autism, she learned that he too would need an advocate. As Louise describes it, interactions with people can be difficult for Jack and unfortunately often negative. In terms of Jack’s dental care in particular, it was always a struggle to treat him. “Our experiences with dental care have been horrible.  Restraints have been used and he has had to undergo general anesthetic. It was awful and I have spent years trying to figure out how to make this change.”

Through friends and other parents of children with autism, Louise learned about the “Desensitization Program” at BC Children’s Hospital started and run by Registered Dental Hygienist Kayla Ragosin-Miller.  The need for this type of program is high and, as a result, Jack spent quite a bit of time on the waiting list.  A few months ago, Jack finally got his appointment with Kayla.

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Learning: a lifelong love affair! Part 2

Sherry Saunderson is a woman of varied interests. She is an adventurer, traveler, dental hygienist and oral health advocate.  Her work and passions have taken her far and wide.  BCDHA is pleased to feature Sherry’s story in a two part series.  Thank you Sherry for your wisdom, insight and for sharing your experiences with our readers.

Be sure to take a read of Part 1, to see where we left off!

Part 2:

Taking a sabbatical in 1996 after their log home sold, Sherry and her husband traveled twice down to Baja, Mexico in a Westphalia van. As synchronicity happens, she learned that the largest Indian Band in B.C. was looking for someone to develop a dental program for their community.

Sherry began her new career path in 1997, under contract for eight hours a week.

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Learning: a lifelong love affair!

Sherry Saunderson is a woman of varied interests. She is an adventurer, traveler, dental hygienist and oral health advocate.  Her work and passions have taken her far and wide.  BCDHA is pleased to feature Sherry’s story, in two parts.  Thank you Sherry for your wisdom, insight and for sharing your experiences with our readers.

Part 1:

The profession of dental hygiene covers a wide field of options today. For some hygienists, their profession offers a secure job, a self supporting salary and an educational investment that allows them to pay the rent and raise a family. They may not be offered an opportunity to determine how the ideal work environment could look for them.  Other hygienist’s experiences extend into a long career, working in various private practices until discovering the office that is a comfortable fit: great patients and a team centered staff that appreciate their clinical skills. Hygienists can also choose to work as educators, researchers, or in community health working with population health strategies, advocacy, government policies and upstream intervention programs within communities. The most fortunate hygienists are those who feel their work is a “calling”, something that brings deep inner satisfaction and joy, stimulation and the opportunity to experience, express, create and contribute to the greater whole, year after year.

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