Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists are health care professionals that prevent health disorders related to improper dental hygiene. Dental hygienists are experts in oral health, structure, function, and oral health-related tools and techniques. They use this knowledge to assess and treat oral hygiene, to prevent disease, and to help people maintain normal health. Oral health-related disorders prevented by dental hygienists include:

  • Gum disease and gum disease-related problems (heart disease, stroke, pneumonia, diabetes, etc.)
  • Tooth loss, decay, cavities and increased sensitivity
  • Gum inflammation, redness, swelling, pain and bleeding
  • Toothaches
  • Teeth and gum infections
  • Dry mouth
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Mouth odor

Dental hygienists provide services in a wide variety of settings, including private practice, or in a dental health team at a dental clinic or hospital. These services include:

  • Assessing gum, teeth and mouth health and hygiene
  • Applying preventative treatments such as scaling (removing stains and plaques), antibiotics, sealants, polishing and fluoride.
  • Assisting dentists to replace and add fillings and braces
  • Promoting gum and teeth health through disease awareness and public education
  • Providing oral health advice on nutrition, lifestyle (brushing and flossing techniques, smoking’s effect on oral health, etc.) and oral health products.
  • Professional teeth whitening
  • Taking X-rays for cavity detection and dental assessment

In Ontario, “Dental Hygienist” is a regulated profession subject to the Standard of Practice, Policies, Practice Guidelines and Code of Ethics defined by the College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario. For more information on regulatory colleges, view our What is a Regulatory College page.