Scope of Practice of a Dental Hygienist

Canada is made up of ten provinces and two territories. The practice of dental hygiene in Canada is regulated by each of the provinces/territories. This means that each province/territory has slightly different requirements and it is best that applicants contact the province/territory to which they plan to apply. This career map is written generically to provide some guidance on the steps to become registered in Canada.

There are approximately 30,400 registered dental hygienists in Canada. The scope of practice for dental hygienists varies depending on the province/territory.

Depending on the jurisdiction, dental hygienists perform some or all of the following procedures in a variety of health care settings, including private practice, long-term care, public health, education, research and administration:

  • Implement the dental hygiene process of care which includes conducting an initial dental hygiene assessment, dental hygiene diagnosis (professional conclusion), planning treatment, implementing the plan and evaluating the treatment
  • Consult with other health care providers on patient/client care
  • Take dental impressions
  • Prescribe certain drugs
  • Provide local anaesthetic
  • Instruct patients/clients regarding oral hygiene procedures and disease prevention
  • Clean teeth above and below the gums to prevent gum disease
  • Remove stains and deposits from teeth to prevent tooth and root decay
  • Apply fluoride and/or other therapeutic treatments
  • Take, develop and interpret X-rays
  • May perform restorative and orthodontic procedures in collaboration with a dentist
  • May work collaboratively with dental assistants, denturists, dental technicians, and/or dentists in their health care functions

Dental hygiene and related occupations can be described differently from country to country, or region to region even within Canada. Therefore, it is highly recommended that applicants contact regulatory bodies or licensing jurisdictions for registration requirements and description of scopes of practice.

In Canada, dental hygienists work with or without dentists (depending on the provincial/territorial jurisdiction) in a variety of practice settings such as private practice, long-term care, education, research, and administration. Dental hygienists may also work with the military, and/or with public health departments, and patients of all ages.