DENTAL HYGIENE IN BC
Dental hygiene has been a recognized health profession in Canada for more than 50 years. Today more than 4,000 dental hygienists are registered to practice in the province of British Columbia.
Registered Dental Hygienists & Dental Hygiene Practitioners are highly educated health professionals who focus on the prevention of oral disease and promote oral health. Dental Hygienists provide treatment and advice to help prevent periodontal (gum) disease and dental cavities. Dental hygienists support their clients in achieving total wellness.
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 anesthetic
- 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.
Dental Hygiene Education
To assure the health, safety and welfare of the public, the British Columbia Dental Hygienists’ Association (BCDHA) contends that entry-to-practice dental hygiene education programs should:
- include a minimum of three academic years of post-secondary education in a recognized institution of higher learning
- be an accredited dental hygiene program that meets current provincial and national learning outcomes and competencies
- prepare graduates for a full process of dental hygiene care using research-based decision-making principles
- transfer to higher education within the BC transfer system
The BCDHA previously developed a policy on Dental Hygiene Education that may be of interest to prospective dental hygiene students. Click here to read this archived document. BCDHA also supports the vision of the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, which asserts the need for increased access to bachelor degree programs, complemented by master, doctoral, and post-doctoral studies that allow dental hygienists to use and expand their growing body of knowledge. Click here to review the reports and recommendations of the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association related to education.
If you are interested in the profession of dental hygiene, contact the institutions listed below to receive current information on the application process, deadlines and specific requirements for admission into an accredited dental hygiene program.