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Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists assess, diagnose and treat oral health conditions. They provide therapeutic, educational and preventive dental hygiene procedures and strategies to promote wellness.

  • Avg. Salary $84,686.00
  • Avg. Wage $53.08
  • Minimum Education 3 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed 3,300
  • In Demand High
NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Dental Hygienists (3222.1) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists (D222) 
  • 2011 NOC: Dental hygienists and dental therapists (3222) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Interest Codes
The Dental Hygienist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Dental Hygienists

Interest in compiling information by conducting initial dental assessments and taking and developing X-rays; may perform restorative and orthodontic procedures under the direction of dentists


Interest in precision working with dental equipment to take dental impressions, to clean and stimulate the gums to prevent gum disease, to remove stains and deposits from teeth to prevent tooth and root decay, and to apply fluoride treatments


Interest in instructing patients regarding oral hygiene procedures; and in consulting with dentists on patient care

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Dec 14, 2016

In general, dental hygienists assess, diagnose, plan, implement and evaluate dental hygiene care to help prevent oral disease such as cavities and periodontal (gum, ligament and bone) disease. They may work independently or as part of health care teams that include dentists, dental assistants, pharmacists, nurses, dietitians, occupational therapists or speech-language therapists.

Most dental hygienists work in clinical settings where they may:

  • assess and diagnose oral health conditions
  • develop individualized treatment plans for clients
  • use pain management techniques (which may include injecting local anaesthetic)
  • advise clients about oral health care and the link between oral diseases and systemic diseases
  • expose, develop and interpret x-rays for dental hygiene treatment
  • use delicate hand instruments and precision power instruments to provide clinical therapies such as scaling, root planing and oral prophylaxis (removing tooth surface deposits and stains) and other non-surgical therapies for periodontal disease
  • apply cavity preventing agents
  • prescribe the Schedule 1 drugs used in dental hygiene practice
  • implement prevention programs
  • refer patients to other health care professionals as appropriate.

In community (public) health settings, dental hygienists may:

  • conduct needs assessments and surveys
  • implement preventive and health promotion programs (for example, regarding fluoridation or tobacco cessation)
  • provide preventive therapies such as scaling and oral prophylaxis
  • apply cavity preventing agents
  • counsel parents, students and seniors about oral health care
  • complete school oral health inspections and visit classrooms to explain the importance of oral hygiene and proper diet, and provide instruction in the care of teeth and gums
  • develop oral health policies for continuing care facilities
  • promote oral health for all age groups.

Dental hygienists who have advanced training and are authorized by the College of Registered Dental Hygienists of Alberta may:

  • prescribe and administer nitrous oxide for conscious sedation
  • fit an orthodontic or periodontal appliance in collaboration with a dentist
  • perform restorative procedures of a permanent nature in collaboration with a dentist.
Working Conditions
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Dental hygienists usually work regular office hours but may work some evenings and weekends. Most clinical procedures require sitting, sometimes in uncomfortable positions. Dental hygienists must use safety glasses, masks, gloves, and proper infection prevention and control techniques to prevent the transmission of disease to themselves or their patients. Safety precautions also must be observed when taking x-rays and using certain chemicals. Dental hygienists may be required to lift young children into a dental chair or help transfer adults from wheelchairs into the dental chair.

Dental hygienists working in community health may visit schools and community groups for inspections and educational presentations. They often have to transport portable equipment that may weigh more than 10 kilograms.

The most common occupational hazards are back, neck and shoulder problems, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Dental hygienists need the following characteristics:

  • a caring, responsible attitude
  • good health
  • good eyesight
  • good finger and manual dexterity 
  • problem-solving and critical thinking abilities
  • excellent verbal and non-verbal communication skills
  • an interest in working with people and working as a member of a team.

They should enjoy working with and consulting others, solving problems, doing precise work with instruments and equipment, providing client care and teaching individuals and groups.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 14, 2016

In Alberta, the dental hygiene program at the University of Alberta (UofA) serves as the benchmark program of study for registration. A current list of approved programs is posted on the College of Registered Dental Hygienists of Alberta (CRDHA) website.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists assess, diagnose and treat oral health conditions through the provision of therapeutic, educational and preventive dental hygiene procedures and strategies to promote wellness.


Under Alberta's Health Professions Act and Dental Hygienists Profession Regulation, registration with the College of Registered Dental Hygienists of Alberta is mandatory if you meet identified competency requirements and provide professional services directly to the public, teach the practice of the profession to members or students of the profession, or supervise registered members who provide services to the public. Registered members, who are authorized by the College, provide restricted activities specified in the Regulation. Only registered members may call themselves dental hygienists.

To find more information on the certification process for internationally educated dental hygienists, see Dental Hygienist Registration Process on the website.

What You Need

Registration requirements include successful completion of: (1) a diploma or bachelor's degree in dental hygiene from an approved program, and (2) an approved examination. Applicants who have been out of practice for a period of time also may have to demonstrate that they are currently competent to practice. For official, detailed information about registration requirements, contact the CRDHA.

Working in Alberta

Dental hygienists who are registered and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if registered dental hygienists in the two jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see "What if I am already certified in another province or territory?" and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

To find more information on the certification process for internationally educated dental hygienists, see Dental Hygienist Registration Process on the website.

Contact Details

College of Registered Dental Hygienists of Alberta
206, 8657 - 51 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada  T6E 6A8
Phone number: 780-465-1756
Fax number: 780-440-0544

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Dental hygienists may work as clinicians, educators, researchers, administrators, health promoters or consultants. They may work in:

  • private dental offices
  • independent dental hygiene practices
  • institutions (for example, hospitals, continuing care centres, correctional facilities)
  • public health, community health, homecare and other outreach programs
  • the armed forces
  • government or regulatory bodies
  • research or consulting companies
  • dental insurance or supply companies
  • post-secondary schools.

Advancement depends on educational background and experience. Teaching, research and administrative positions require academic qualifications beyond the basic diploma program.

Dental hygienists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 3222: Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists. In Alberta, 98% of people employed in this classification work in the Health Care and Social Assistance (PDF) industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Employee benefits such as insurance plans, workers' compensation coverage, educational leaves and sick leaves are not commonly offered to dental hygienists working in dental practices.

For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, see the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website.

Dental hygienists and dental therapists

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $22.50 $60.00 $47.48 $48.00
Overall $29.00 $68.53 $53.08 $52.12
Top $36.00 $75.00 $58.40 $57.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Health Care Services
    • Human and Social Services
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 14, 2016

College of Registered Dental Hygienists of Alberta, (CRDHA) website:

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA) website:

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 20, 2014. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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