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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.

Also Known As

Dental Hygiene Practitioners, Oral Hygiene Practitioners, Teeth Cleaners

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) 
  • 2016 NOC: Dental hygienists and dental therapists (3222) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Dental Hygienists

2006 NOC: 3222.1

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
METHODICAL

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

OBJECTIVE

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

SOCIAL

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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Dental hygienists assess, diagnose, plan, carry out, and evaluate dental hygiene. They help prevent oral disease such as cavities and periodontal (gum, ligament and bone) disease. They may work on their own or as part of a health care team. Such teams may include:

  • dentists and dental assistants
  • pharmacists
  • doctors and nurses
  • dietitians
  • occupational therapists
  • speech-language pathologists.

Most dental hygienists work in clinical settings where they may:

  • assess and diagnose periodontal health conditions
  • customize treatment plans for clients
  • use pain management techniques (which may include injecting local anaesthetic)
  • teach clients about the role of oral health in overall health
  • take, develop and interpret dental x-rays
  • use special instruments (manual and electronic) for scaling, root planing, and surface cleaning, plus other non-surgical therapies for periodontal disease
  • apply cavity-preventing agents
  • apply desensitizing agents and dental sealants
  • perform teeth-whitening procedures
  • make mouth guards
  • prescribe the Schedule 1 drugs used in dental hygiene practice
  • introduce prevention programs
  • refer patients to other health care providers
  • perform temporary repairs to crowns or bridges
  • place temporary fillings
  • perform exams
  • provide emergency care
  • screen for oral cancer
  • take teeth impressions
  • maintain and clean implants, dentures, and partial dentures
  • provide mobile services to homes or institutions.

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

  • conduct needs assessments and surveys
  • provide preventive and health promotion programs (for example, promoting fluoridation or stopping tobacco use)
  • provide preventive therapies (such as scaling and oral prophylaxis)
  • apply cavity-preventing agents
  • advise parents, students, seniors and other groups about oral health care
  • provide school outreach and education programs
  • develop oral health policies for continuing care facilities
  • promote oral health for all age groups.

If they have advanced training and are authorized by the College of Registered Dental Hygienists of Alberta, they may:

  • prescribe and administer nitrous oxide for conscious sedation
  • work with a dentist to fit an appliance (orthodontic or periodontal)
  • work with a dentist to perform restorative procedures (such as fillings)
  • counsel patients on diet, smoking cessation, oral self-exams, and personal lifestyle.
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg

Most dental hygienists work regular office hours. They may work some evenings and weekends. Most clinical procedures require sitting, sometimes in awkward positions. Dental hygienists must use personal protective equipment (such as safety glasses, masks, and gloves). They also use infection prevention and control techniques to protect themselves and their patients. They use safety measures when taking x-rays and using certain chemicals. Dental hygienists may need to lift young children into the dental chair. They may have to help transfer adults from wheelchairs into the dental chair.

Those who work in community health may visit schools and community groups. They often have to transport equipment that may weigh more than 10 kilograms.

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

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Dental hygienists need to possess:

  • a caring, responsible attitude
  • good health
  • good eyesight
  • fine motor skills
  • the ability to solve problems and think critically
  • excellent verbal and non-verbal communication skills
  • an interest in working with the public
  • the ability to work as part of a team.

They should enjoy:

  • consulting with team members
  • solving problems
  • completing detailed work with instruments and equipment
  • providing client care
  • recording patient treatment
  • teaching in one-on-one and group settings.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2011 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Dental hygienists and dental therapists

2011 NOC: 3222

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 22 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Dec 07, 2021 and Oct 03, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Take, develop and mount X-rays
Remove stains and deposits from teeth
Instruct patients regarding oral hygiene
Conduct initial dental assessments and consult with dentists on patient care
Clean and stimulate the gums to prevent gum disease
Apply fluoride treatment
Remove stains and deposits from teeth
Instruct patients regarding oral hygiene
Conduct initial dental assessments and consult with dentists on patient care
Apply fluoride treatment
Educational Requirements
Updated Feb 02, 2022
  • Minimum Education Varies

Registration with the College of Registered Dental Hygienists of Alberta (CRDHA) is mandatory in order to practice in Alberta. The University of Alberta’s Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene program serves as the benchmark program of study for registration.

The Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada (CDAC) accredits dental hygiene programs in Canada. To search for these programs by province, visit the CDAC website.

Keep in mind graduates of programs other than the University of Alberta program need their qualifications reviewed by the CRDHA for substantial equivalence. Research your options carefully before enrolling.


Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

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.

Legislation

Under Alberta’s Health Professions Act [pdf] and Dental Hygienists Profession Regulation [pdf], registration with the College of Registered Dental Hygienists of Alberta (CRDHA) 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.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Dental Hygienist.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2018

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

  • private dental offices
  • independent dental hygiene clinics
  • institutions (such as hospitals, continuing care centres, correctional facilities)
  • community health, home care 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 at the bachelor’s degree level or beyond.

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 [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

In Alberta, the 3222: Dental hygienists and dental therapists occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.5% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 113 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2018

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.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Dental hygienists and dental therapists

2016 NOC: 3222
Average Wage
$56.06
Per Hour
Average Salary
$83,356.00
Per Year
Average Hours
28.7
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 3222 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $42.20 $54.00 $46.23 $42.20
Overall $50.00 $62.14 $56.06 $55.88
Top $52.00 $72.00 $66.37 $70.33

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Public Administration
ALL INDUSTRIES
Health Care & Social Assistance

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
67%
67%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
69%
69%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
16%
16%
Vacancy Rate
5%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2018

College of Registered Dental Hygienists of Alberta, (CRDHA) website: www.crdha.ca

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA) website:  www.cdha.ca

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website: www.hsaa.ca

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2018. 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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