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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 $86,778.00
  • Avg. Wage $56.14
  • Minimum Education 3 years post-secondary
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 1,500
  • In Demand High
Also Known As

Teeth Cleaners, Oral Hygiene Practitioners, Dental Hygiene Practitioners

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) 
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 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

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.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
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.
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

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.

Applicants for registration who graduate from other programs need their qualifications reviewed by the college to assess substantial equivalence to the University of Alberta program.

Required Education

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

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

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

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.

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 learn about certification for internationally educated dental hygienists, see Dental Hygienist Registration Process.

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 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.

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

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.

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 $37.13 $62.00 $50.79 $50.00
Overall $46.50 $65.00 $56.14 $55.00
Top $49.15 $97.86 $61.76 $60.00

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 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:

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA) website:

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website:

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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