How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Canada-10Best Steps

Have you been searching for the steps on how to become a dental hygienist in Canada? Dental hygiene is the practice of observing all the Hygienic processes of the teeth and mouth in general.

These processes are observed by regularly brushing and keeping the teeth clean, taking special care, and using quality products in the care of the teeth.

And avoiding certain food, drinks, and any other thing that will hinder the effective routine of our oral hygiene.

During a dental check-up, you’ll be spending most of your check-up session with a dental hygienist. 

Dental hygienists work very closely with dentists to advise on dental and oral hygiene, especially for children.

They provide preventive oral care, examine patients for possible signs of damage and diseases, and manage the general oral health of a patient.

They generally offer expertise in their field by providing dental hygiene diagnoses and follow the five phases of dental hygiene care which are Assessment, Dental Hygiene Diagnosis, Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation.

Dental hygienists also assess patient records to determine preventive and educational services and observe the patient-specific mode of treatment.

There is a range of job descriptions for dental hygienists from periodontal therapy which involves periodontal debridement, periodontal charting, prophylaxis, and other periodontal maintenance procedures for patients suffering from periodontal diseases.

They also work in diverse dental settings like private, special, public, and independent practices.

Dental hygienists also work with dentists, oral health therapists, Dental therapists, and many other dental professionals whose aim is to provide comprehensive oral Health care while observing an interprofessional work environment.

What is the Work of Dental Hygienists

Dentists and dental hygienists work together to ensure a smooth process of oral health practice and meet the oral needs of patients.

They use good communication skills and human managerial skills to initiate good and comfortable conversations and to understand and motivate patients to maintain Oral hygiene.

The responsibilities of dental hygienists vary according to the district because of specific regulations.

Some of their roles in a dental practice include:

  • Assessment of patient oral Health conditions

  • Review of patients health history

  • running dental radiographs

  • Removing plaques

  • Application of preventive substances

  • Advice on all oral hygiene strategies

  • Sessions on good nutrition and its effect on dental health.

  • Documentation and recording of patients’ dental health progress

  • Educate patients on the most effective ways to clean the mouth using

  • recommended products

  • Examination of the head and neck dental area

  • Placement and removal of periodontal

How to become a dental hygienist in Canada

Canada has over 30,000 registered dental hygienists and is such an ideal place to start up a dental practice.

In this article, we’ll be going through this list and presenting to you, the 10 Best general Steps on how to become a dental hygienist in Canada.

They are:

  • Obtaining a high school diploma

  • Research about dental hygiene and its requirements 

  • Obtaining a bachelor’s degree

  • Internship

  • Pass the national dental health certificate board examination

  • Get certification/registration/licensing

  • Applying for a job 

  • Starting a private practice

  • Obtaining a master’s degree

  • Enrollment in continuing education courses

Obtaining a High School Diploma

Aspiring dental hygienists usually choose this career path based on their ability to help patients and manage children and the elderly because they hold the majority of patient ratio.

So they start making due preparations for University by making sure to graduate with a dental hygienist-worthy result.

During your study, you should concentrate on the major courses that will be required of you by the admission office. Courses like biology, chemistry, and math stand as the core courses as dental hygiene is a science course.

Some schools actively offer guidance and counseling for students who are in the dark about which career path they want to choose and the due steps to take towards becoming what they aspire to be e.g dental hygienist.

Not only should you concentrate on school subjects, but you can also get close to already practicing dental hygienists and take notice of their day-to-day operations.

Research About Dental Hygiene and its Requirements

The need to conduct your research about Dental hygiene as a course and becoming a dental hygienist as a profession can never be overemphasized. 

You’ll get very specific information about schools, accreditation, licensing, exams and certifications, requirements, and many other very important information.

There are many advantages of research like getting useful information and foresight which will guide you through the whole process of becoming a dental hygienist. 

Going through some training can also be beneficial to help you in your career journey. You can research the skills needed, the academic performance requirements of schools, appropriate steps taken to prepare for University, and tuition and fees.

Getting more information about areas of employability, salaries, specific district requirements, career benefits, length of study, additional fees, and deadlines will help you and keep you abreast of current trends and developments as these are what you’ll be getting from your research phase.

Obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree

Students studying dental hygiene at the university will have to study histology, pharmacology, pathology, and health promotion, while learning skills directly, by practicing on fully functional dental manikins of the finest modern brand in simulation labs which are being modeled after typical dental offices.

The labs have available centers that are completely sterilized for learning decontamination and sterilization processes.

While students come up in their study years, they’ll get Clinical experiences in functional public dental clinics which may comprise a dental radiography suite.

Also, all through this, students work with professors in a supportive mentorship structure designed to bring out the best in students. 

This program also involves community placements, public schools, hospitals, and dental hygiene promotion activities.

Upon graduation, students are expected to pass a board exam which they’ll be prepared for by their schools and also prepare them for practice as distinguished oral health care providers.

This degree program also focuses on preparing students to function within their scope of practice cooperatively with patients, the community, and other health care professionals.

Presentations, seminars, health practicums, and various Clinical experiences and settings should be constantly attended at the university to make sure that the professional commitment of students towards continued competency and quality assurance is continually developed.

Also, a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene program has a study duration of four years, except for its second-year equivalent which is a diploma program that is for three years and should be at an accredited university in Canada.


Students under supervised work and learning which can also be known as internships learn how to work and operate effectively, in the dental practice.

This 100-hour internship provides students with experience with practicing professionals and they will also learn reception and front office concepts, the use of application software for effective patient data management, bill insurance, and session schedule.

They learn through experiences and theoretically; how to cope with emergencies, special and compromised clients, and also learn the a-z of dental work life and ethics.

Upon completion, students must have amassed a great wealth of experience, excellent communication skills, and gained resourceful knowledge of the dental office environment.

Students can decide to work in any facility that employs office administrators in the dental field like dental surgeon offices, dental labs, and even dental specialty practices like dentofacial, periodontics, endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, etc.

And also, the employer will make sure that the student observes and participates in every single dental hygiene procedure in that dental facility.

Pass the National Dental Hygiene Certification Board Examination

The national board dental hygiene exam is one of the biggest determinants in your career journey because it determines if you’ll be getting your license.

 You’ll only be allowed to participate in this exam usually after your course of study is reviewed to determine eligibility by theNational Dental Hygiene Certification Board.

Studying for the national board dental hygiene examination is usually not like every other exam or test because it has so many tendencies to be stressful and much more difficult than every other test you’ll be experiencing in your career journey.

But then, nothing beats a prepared student. You can make preparations by ;

  • getting all needed study materials

  • learn important things about the exam like time allocated, knowing things to expect, etc, 

  • Creating a study schedule that fits you most

  • Teach and be taught in your study groups

  • Ask questions from your teachers and be inquisitive about every detail

Get Certified/Registration/licensed

Licensing is required in every province in which any dental hygienist would like to practice at and get registered as a certified dental hygienist.

 You’ll be contacting the provincial director of your district/province for information on requirements.

Licensing would require meeting your district’s requirements:


  • A criminal record check

  • Submission of your evidence of good character

  • Pass the written examination delivered by the National Dental Hygiene

  • Certification Board (NDHCB)

  • Pass the CRDHA jurisprudence examination

  • Submit evidence of current CPR certification at the level determined by the CRDHA Council

  • Proficiency in the English Language

  • Pay all required application and registration fees

British Columbia

  • Graduation from a dental hygiene education program 

  • Get Certified by the National Dental Hygiene Certification Board (NDHCB);

  • Current Basic Life Support (BLS) certification

  • Demonstration of current Continuing Competency (CC) credits

  • Completion of the Jurisprudence Education Module

  • Possession of professional negligence insurance ($1 million per occurrence)

  • Demonstration of good standing to practice dental hygiene 

  • Demonstration of good character

  • Criminal record check

  • Submission of forms and payment of applicable fees

There are many other requirements and they obviously will differ between provinces so, contact the director, get Certified, and get ready to practice.

Apply For a Job

Canada has a most competitive job market and getting a job will require adequate preparations, consistency, and determination.

Upon certification, you will be instantly eligible to work in Canada, though it might not be an easy path even for the most talented of applicants.

Remember that when you started as a licensed dental hygienist, there were people there before you so get across to them.

You can attend networking events, especially something like a dentist dinner party or something of the sort to bond with people of similar minds and situations and some others with the right connections in the practice.

And while you search for jobs, make your resume impeccable. Your experiences, skills, your proficiency, and display of exceptionality should be clearly announced in your resume.

Remember that experience is an edge so just like we stated above, get experience through internships or shadowing a professional.

Start a Private Practice

Usually, getting a job can be a hassle even though Dental hygienists are in high demand, but then you sure will get one as there are many organizations with slots for Dental Hygienists.

But then, if you get the entrepreneurial spirit brewing inside of you, you can start a Private practice.

And before doing that, you’ll be needing to do some very important things and they can be as little as ;

  • Acquiring a liability insurance

  • Finding a name for your private practice

  • Registering your business

  • Acquiring an office space

  • Getting business numbers and cards 

  • Build a website

  • Develop relevant documents and paperwork

  • Find a way to handle client data

  • Determine your service price

  • Advertise

  • Meet your province’s requirements for private practices if any 

Obtaining a Master’s Degree

Now you must have gone through all the basic steps of becoming a dental hygienist, but there are other important steps too.

Obtaining a master’s degree would benefit any professional in their line of work as it guarantees special benefits like higher pay and you sure would love that.

An MSc in Dental Hygiene is a research-based program that requires each trainee to complete a set of didactic courses, preparation, and completion of the thesis and original research which will be carried out under supervision.

This isn’t a Clinical program, it isn’t related to getting a license and to any clinical specialization.

This program doesn’t require residency, and the proposed research requirement is dependent on a student-supervisor discussion basis.

The time permitted for this program at its maximum as set by the faculty of graduate studies and research is 4 years. However, it can vary as its considerable average is 3 years

In this program, you’ll complete 9 graded coursework (minimum) which consists of 6 required and 3 elective courses.

Also, course requirements are recommended by either the supervisory committee or the supervisor based on the area of specialization in thesis research and the background of a student.

Enroll in Continuing Education Courses

Continuing Education is part of a professional development activity that helps to increase and maintain positive performance in one’s line of practice and license.

This helps in maintaining competency and provides relevant, current, and evidence-based information to improve service and knowledge on the recent advances in dental technology, new trends, and newly introduced clinical approaches to client care.

There are varieties of very outstanding continuing education Programs which are available for dental Hygienists and are based on hands-on experience, lecture-based specialized education, and a list of many more certification programs in Canadian universities.

Schools offering Courses in Dental Hygiene

  • Fanshawe university
  • Duration of study: 3 years
  • Tuition: CAD 19,000 annually
  • Intake: September
  • Dalhousie university
  • Duration of study: 2 years
  • Tuition: CAD 10,737 annually
  • Intake: September
  • Degree: Bachelor of dental hygiene

  • Canadore college
  • Duration of study: 3 years
  • Tuition: CAD 25,913 annually
  • Intake: September

  • University of Manitoba
  • Duration of study: 3 years
  • Tuition: CAD 13,900 annually
  • Degree: Bachelor of dental hygiene

  • Confederation college
  • Camosun college
  • Duration of study:2 years 
  • Tuition: CAD20,670 annually
  • Intake: September
  • Diploma awarding
  • The University of British Columbia
  • Duration of study: 4 years
  • Tuition: CAD 35000-$40000 annually
  • Intake: September
  • The University of Alberta
  • Duration of study: 4 years
  • Tuition: CAD 25000-30000 annually
  • Intake: September
  • Degree: bachelor of science in dental hygiene


How much does a dental hygienist make in Canada?

Dental Hygienists have a job occupancy rate of over 35,000 job slots in Canada and an average wage of $39 on an hourly basis.

Dental Hygienists keep growing in number and so do their jobs, which will increase both job and salary prospects.

The hourly wage of dentists varies according to district and they are:

Alberta: $53.25 hourly

British Columbia: $46.50 hourly

Manitoba: $42.95 hourly

New Brunswick: $36.47 hourly

Nova Scotia: $32.21 hourly

Quebec: $32.86 hourly

Saskatchewan: $49.46 hourly

How Many Years to Become a Dental Hygienist in Canada?

It generally takes two to three years to become a dental hygienist in Canada depending on the level of education you pursue.

Working as a dental hygienist would require you to get licensed by your state and the Dental American Association.

Students pursuing an associate degree will be completing all requirements of a degree in two years while a bachelor’s or Master’s will take up to four to six years in addition.

It is important to note that any dental hygienist who aims at pursuing a higher Degree can do so while working simultaneously, as long as they have a minimum of an associate degree, must have written their board exams, and completed certain training and educational requirements.

How to be Dental Hygienist in Canada?

Aspiring dental hygienists need to put in some extra work to make it to the top.

 This is because Canada has a large and very competitive job market meaning that the process of getting a job would require someone with grit and employers would be looking for a candidate with an “extra” of what other applicants might possess.

If you want to become a dental hygienist, you need to pass valid educational requirements like a high school diploma, an associate degree or bachelor’s in dental hygiene, a master’s degree for advanced study, and certification requirements like passing the National Dental Hygiene Certification Examination.

What high school courses do you need to become a dental hygienist in Canada?

Endeavor to take courses that’ll prepare you for a career in dental hygiene in college. Although your school’s college preparatory curriculum might differ from that of your state. 

Advanced courses like international baccalaureate (IB) and advanced placement (AP) will also profit you in high school. 

If they are available in your school, you should endeavor to do well in them and might receive college credits for them which in the end, strengthens your college application.

Elective courses that will prepare you for dental hygiene are :

  • Safety and First Aid
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Fundamentals of ICT
  • Dental Assisting
  • Health Education

What is a diploma in dental hygiene in Canada?

Diplomas in dental hygiene are graduate Level programs for candidates aspiring to become dental Hygienists.

This is a two-year program that one can enroll in after their intermediate examination and focuses on preventive dentistry, dental radiography, oral hygiene, basic restorations, periodontal treatments, and extracting teeth about to fall out.

Usually, after this program, candidates get employed as dental assistants, radiation therapists, dentists, medical assistants, physical therapists, surgical technologists, etc 


Becoming a dental hygienist is a career worthy of dreaming of. Compared to other jobs, it has flexible work hours, pays well, has secured job availability, and requires minimal schooling.

There are many other different ways to become a dental hygienist and they vary between countries, states, cities, counties, etc.

Also, you’ll be helping a great deal and will be contributing to the health of millions by aiding them to live profitably and maintain good oral hygiene.

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