A dental hygienist provides oral health care throughout your lifetime. To be registered with the College of Dental Hygienists of BC, dental hygienists must have graduated from a recognized dental hygiene diploma or degree program, have successfully passed a national certification exam, and completed an approved course on local anesthesia.

Only someone registered with the College of Dental Hygienists of BC can use the title “dental hygienist” in British Columbia.

What does a dental hygienist do?

Dental hygienists examine and determine the condition of your teeth and gum tissue. They provide care to your teeth and gums. Debridement or scaling is often thought of as ‘teeth cleaning’ and includes removing plaque and calculus from your teeth. Dental hygienists also check your head and neck and your mouth for possible signs of other conditions. They also remove stains from your teeth through polishing and, if needed, you may receive a fluoride treatment to strengthen your teeth, prevent decay, and/or decrease sensitivity.

How do dental hygienists keep their skills up to date?

Dental hygienists must renew their registration with the College of Dental Hygienists of BC every year. Dental hygienists are expected to remain current and learn about new technology. The College mandates a robust Quality Assurance Program which includes an online assessment tool that must be completed at the start of the dental hygienist’s 5 year cycle. The results of that tool direct some of the dental hygienist’s learning while some is self-directed. Dental hygienists must complete a total of 75 credits over the 5-year cycle.

What happens when I first visit a dental hygienist?

A dental hygienist will review your medical history with you and ask you about any medication you are taking. They will ask you about your dental history and any concerns you might have with your teeth. They will check your head, neck and mouth to screen for oral cancer and other conditions. They will talk to you about a plan of treatment that usually includes debridement using ultra-sonic equipment or hand held tools. The dental hygienist will share information with you about the health of your teeth and gums, brushing and flossing your teeth, and other important tooth care information.

How can I find a dental hygienist?

You do not need to be referred to a dental hygienist; but to see a dental hygienist in the full category you must have received a dental exam within the previous year or immediately before your appointment. However, some dental hygienists are registered in the 365-day exempt category and have their own independent practice. You do not need to have a dental exam in order to access these dental hygienists. Many independent practitioners have mobile practices and can provide care to those who are not able to access a typical dental office. Many times people find a dental hygienist through friends, family, or a dentist. Dental hygienists are also listed in phonebooks or on the Internet. Most dental offices also include dental hygienists in the same office. You should confirm that your dental hygienist is registered by checking the College of Dental Hygienist of BC www.cdhbc.com

How do I pay for a dental hygienist?

MSP does not cover dental hygiene treatments however they may be covered by private health plans. Also, there are reduced cost clinics that can be found through the BC Dental Hygienists Association.

What if I have concerns about the care I received from a dental hygienist?

As a patient you have the right to expect a professional standard of care from your dental hygienist. If you think that has not happened, please contact:

College of Dental Hygienists of BC
Suite 600, 3795 Carey Road
Victoria, BC V8Z 6T8
fax: 1.250.383.4104

Where can I find more information about dental hygienists?

Visit www.cdhbc.com


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Group of doctors talking about a patient's care. Patient is in the foreground.

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