Dental hygiene has been a recognized health profession in Canada for more than 50 years. Today more than 3,600 dental hygienists are registered to practice in the province of British Columbia. Dental hygiene is a fast-growing and rewarding profession for men and women interested in a career in the health sector.

Registered Dental Hygienists & Dental Hygiene Practitioners are highly trained health professionals whose education and training focus on the prevention of oral disease and the promotion of oral health. Dental Hygienists are important members of the oral health care team. They provide a process of care involving professional treatment and advice to help prevent periodontal (gum) disease and dental cavities. Dental hygienists support their clients in achieving total wellness. For a printable fact sheet on Dental Hygienists in BC click here.

A dental hygienist can provide a variety of services, including:

  • Assessing oral healthcare needs
  • Reviewing client medical and dental history
  • Screening for oral cancer
  • Assessing overall gum health
  • Administering local anaesthetic
  • Taking and reviewing x-rays
  • Removing plaque and tartar
  • Applying fluoride and other cavity preventing materials
  • Demonstrating proper oral care techniques
  • Counselling for diet as it relates to oral health
  • Counselling for tobacco-use cessation
  • Providing information and referrals to other health professionals
  • Applying Silver Diamine Fluoride (can stop the progress on an already formed cavity)
  • Interim Stabilization Therapy (IST) (temporary restorative procedure)
  • Apply sealants

Many dental hygienists practice in dental offices around the province. In BC, the legislation also permits a dental hygienist to own and operate his/her own dental hygiene practice. Private practices enable dental hygienists to establish different practice settings, helping the public to obtain oral care services from the most appropriate professional, when and where they need it.  For example, mobile practices bring dental hygiene services to remote communities and housebound clients, while storefront locations provide ease of access. 

Registered Dental Hygienists & Dental Hygiene Practitioners also work as members of multidisciplinary health teams in residential care facilities, hospital settings, public health units and community care centres. Client care is coordinated in conjunction with other health care providers such as dentists, dietitians, speech language therapists, physiotherapists, nurses and social workers.