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A Dental Hygienist – Your Partner in Oral Health

May 14th, 2021

What is a Dental Hygienist?

A dental hygienist is an oral health care professional who focuses on oral disease prevention. They provide clinical assessments and therapy, oral health education, and offer health promotion strategies to people of all ages.

When a patient sees a dental hygienist they can usually expect a dental cleaning. They can also expect to be asked questions regarding any changes in overall physical health, medications and oral health. A hygienist will also check for signs of cancer in the mouth.

If a patient has, or has had a gum disease, the dental hygienist will monitor the extent of gum loss and the viability of teeth.

A dental hygienist is a part of a patient’s oral health team. They work closely with patients to determine an individualized care plan and to help them maintain proper oral health practises.


How to Become a Dental Hygienist           

Irene Newman became the world’s first dental hygienist in 1905. At that time, she would not have had the schooling that is necessary today.

To become a dental hygienist and practise in Canada today, dental hygienists must earn a diploma in dental hygiene from a post-secondary institution. The program is 2 years in length. It focuses on oral and clinical science with an emphasis on health promotion and preventative, and motivational communication strategies.

Upon completion of the program students must pass the National Dental Hygiene Certification Exam. Only upon successful completion of the exam will students be registered or licensed by the dental hygiene regulatory authority in their provincial or territory.


Where Does a Dental Hygienist Practice?

Dental hygienists can practice in a variety of settings including public health agencies, private clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and educational and research institutions. They can practise with dentists, physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, chiropractors, as well as with dentists.

More recently some dental hygienists have opened their own practices in an effort to make oral health care more accessible to all.




College of Oral Hygienists of Ontario


The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

Posted in Health