Public Information

What does a Dental Hygienist do?

Dental hygienists are registered and certified health professionals who specialize in preventing oral health problems and diseases. They work with individual clients or communities to prevent tooth, gum and mouth diseases and injuries that can affect overall health.

Dental hygiene services are provided to individuals across the age spectrum. Dental hygienists work with patients ranging from parents in pre-natal classes to the elderly in long-term care centres. A work day could involve assessment, planning, implementing and evaluating oral health data and include:

  • teaching an elementary class about oral health care
  • counseling a family about oral health
  • providing fluoride treatments to patients during a dental visit
  • administering local anaesthetic for dental hygiene or dental treatment
  • teaching long-term care staff about mouthcare for their clients
  • working with nurses to prevent sports and playground injuries
  • screening seniors for signs of oral cancer
  • performing head, neck and oral examinations
  • applying pit and fissure sealants to teeth
  • reviewing literature and conducting research
  • scaling and rootplaning, and so on

The dental hygiene profession focuses on preventive health care. As a result, many dental hygienists deliver health promotion programs in their community to parent and special needs groups, schools, day cares and long-term seniors' care facilities. Among the programs provided are:

  • Tobacco Cessation
  • Sports/Mouthguard Clinics
  • Well Baby Seminars


How do I find a Dental Hygienist?

Dental hygienists work in a variety of settings, but the most common and easy way to find a dental hygienist will almost always be at your local dental office. As prevention professionals, your dental hygienists will be able to help you find the answer to your questions, whether you have general questions about your oral health condition, or you need advice on which products in the marketplace would best meet your needs.

Dental hygienists are most commonly found in:

  • private dental hygiene and dental offices
  • institutions (e.g. hospitals, long-term care facilities)
  • public health/community health/homecare and other outreach programs
  • primary health centres
  • educational institutions (e.g. universities and community colleges)
  • the military
  • research
  • industry (e.g. insurance and dental supply companies)
  • consulting firms
  • regulatory bodies and professional associations
  • regional health authorities

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