Public Information

What does a Dental Hygienist do?

Dental hygienists are registered and certified primary health care providers. They educate and empower their clients to embrace their oral health for better overall health and well-being.  Dental hygienists specialize in preventing tooth, gum and mouth diseases that can affect overall health.

Dental hygiene services are provided to individuals of all ages. Dental hygienists work with clients ranging from new 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:

  • completing dental cleanings which includes scaling, polishing and fluoride treatments
  • administering local anesthetic for dental hygiene or dental treatments
  • performing head, neck and oral examinations
  • oral cancer screening for all ages
  • applying pit and fissure sealants to teeth
  • teaching students at local schools about oral health care
  • counseling a family about oral health
  • teaching nurses and long-term care staff about mouthcare for their clients
  • fabrication of custom mouthguards for sports such as rugby, hockey, karate etc.
  • reviewing literature and conducting research

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. As prevention professionals, your dental hygienist 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.

You have the right to choose your dental hygienist providing care, whether it be at an independent dental hygiene clinic or a traditional dental office!

Clients bill of rights - The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

Dental hygienists are most commonly found in:

  • private independent dental hygiene clinics (owned by dental hygienists) and traditional 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

Dental Hygiene Canada provides information and resources for those looking for more information on dental hygienists and oral health. You can also search for an independent dental hygiene clinic in your area.