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Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists

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NOC:3222
Occupation:Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists
Category:Health

About the job

Nature of work:

Dental hygienists provide dental hygiene treatment and information related to the prevention of diseases and disorders of the teeth and mouth. They are employed in dentists' offices, hospitals, clinics, educational institutions, government agencies and private industry. Dental therapists carry out limited dental services related to the prevention and treatment of diseases and disorders of the teeth and mouth. They are employed by the federal government and the provincial governments to provide services in rural and remote communities.

Job duties:
Dental hygienists perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Conduct an initial dental assessment and consult with dentists on patient care.
  • Take dental impressions.
  • Instruct patients regarding oral hygiene procedures.
  • Clean and stimulate the gums to prevent gum disease.
  • Remove stains and deposits from teeth to prevent tooth and root decay.
  • Apply fluoride treatment.
  • Take and develop X-rays.
  • May perform restorative and orthodontic procedures under the direction of a dentist.
  • May supervise dental assistants in their health care functions.
Dental therapists perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Conduct dental assessments and consult with dentist on patient care.
  • Take dental impressions.
  • Take and develop X-rays.
  • Remove stains and deposits from teeth to prevent tooth and root decay.
  • Apply fluoride treatment.
  • Instruct patients regarding oral hygiene procedures.
  • Supervise dental assistants in their health care functions.
  • May drill and fill cavities, extract teeth and replace portions of tooth crown.
Sample job titles:
  • dental hygiene technician
  • dental hygienist
  • dental nurse
  • dental therapist
  • orthodontic hygienist
  • periodontal hygienist
  • registered dental hygienist
  • registered dental therapist
Skills:

To work in these jobs, you should have good interpersonal skills and a desire to help others. Patience and the ability to handle stressful situations may be needed. You must be efficient and accurate, yet sensitive to the needs of patients. Good manual dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and an aptitude for detailed and precise work are necessary.

Job requirements:
  • Dental hygienists are required to complete a college program ranging from one to three years, or other approved program in dental hygiene recognized by the governing board within the province or territory of residence.
  • Dental therapists are required to complete a two- to three- year college diploma or equivalent credentials from an approved dental institution or complete the dental therapy diploma program offered by the First Nations University of Canada in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
  • To become a dental hygienist in Nova Scotia you must complete an accredited education diploma in dental hygiene and be licensed by the College of Dental Hygienists of Nova Scotia.
Other considerations:

None

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Fair

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “average”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is comparable to the average for all occupations in Nova Scotia. This is a moderate sized occupation in Nova Scotia so some job opportunities may occur through turnover. The number employed in this occupation is expected to grow moderately over the next few years, which will likely provide some additional opportunities for employment. With a large percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are expected to be a key contributor to employment opportunities over the coming years. Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists most commonly work full-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs are typically permanent positions. With employment conditions being somewhat seasonal, periods of downtime or layoff throughout the year affect some workers.

The median employment income for 59% of Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $58,657. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, 59% of those who worked full-time year round had a median employment income of $43,600.
(Source: 2016 Census)

OccupationEstimated employment in 2018Estimated change in employment between 2017 and 2019Estimated openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019Estimated rate of unemployment in 2018 Estimated hourly earnings in 2015 (learn more)Estimated annual earnings in 2015
Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists655Moderate growth65Low
Minimum: $30.00
Median: $34.00
Maximum: $40.79
Minimum: $21,604
Median: $53,822
Maximum: $73,756
Occupations in Health36,515Strong growth4,385Low
Minimum: $16.38
Median: $25.50
Maximum: $41.00
Minimum: $10,740
Median: $43,853
Maximum: $88,944
Dental Hygienists and Dental TherapistsCompared to: Occupations in Health
Percent employed full-time82%77%
Percent self-employed0%10%
Where will I likely work?
Area of EmploymentDental Hygienists and Dental TherapistsCompared to: All NS Occupations
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Southern10%$44,21912%$30,581
Northern12%x16%$33,660
Cape Breton12%x13%$32,974
Halifax57%$48,37247%$41,209
Annapolis Valley10%x13%$32,958
What are the workers like?
AgeDental Hygienists and Dental TherapistsCompared to: All Health
% Employed% Employed
15-2410%1%
25-3439%15%
35-4429%28%
45-5420%31%
55-64x20%
65+x5%
Median Age4244
GenderDental Hygienists and Dental TherapistsCompared to: Occupations in Health
% Employed% Employed
Female96%84%
Male4%16%
EducationDental Hygienists and Dental TherapistsCompared to: All Health
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Less than high schoolN/Ax1.1%$27,581
High schoolN/Ax6.9%$24,119
Trades certificateN/Ax5.0%$31,728
College certificate or diploma17.5%x39.4%$36,693
University certificate or diploma37.2%x4.8%$50,769
Bachelor's degree30.7%x27.6%$57,186
University advanced certificate or diploma13.9%x2.3%$61,833
Master's degreeN/Ax5.1%$87,808
Doctorate1.5%x0.7%$70,843
Medicine, dentistry, veterinary, optometryN/Ax7.2%$83,000
Total100%100%
Wage Disclaimer

Hourly earnings data are from the Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada. Data are not available for all occupations. Hourly earnings are calculated based on usual hours worked per week. This is how an annual salary, for instance, gets converted to an hourly rate. The data include full and part-time workers along with new and experienced workers. Self-employed workers are excluded.

Annual employment income data reported in the Work Prospects section, are from the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada. Much of the data (around 70%) came directly from tax records. The data relates to the year 2010 and includes total wages and salaries and net income from self-employment.

Sources

Employment Requirements & Contacts

Regulations:
Dental Hygienist
Right to Title and Practice:This job is regulated and the job title is protected in Nova Scotia (you may not use this job title without holding a provincial licence). A licence shows that the holder has met provincial requirements and is required to work in this job.
Regulating body:
College of Dental Hygienists of Nova Scotia
11-2625 Joseph Howe Drive
Halifax, NS B3L 4G4
(902) 444-7241
(902) 444-7242
info@cdhns.ca
Useful contacts:
Canadian Dental Hygienists' Association
1122 Wellington St W,
Ottawa, ON K1Y 2Y7
Tel: (800) 267-5235
Fax: (613) 224-7283
info@cdha.ca
Health Care Human Resource Sector Council
380 Bedford Highway
Halifax, NS B3M 2L4
Tel: (902) 461-0871
Fax: (902) 461-9572
info@hcsc.ca

Training Paths & Education

Program Name:Dental hygiene/hygienist
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the trades/college level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that prepares individuals to clean teeth and apply preventive materials; provide oral health education and treatment counselling to patients; identify oral pathologies and injuries; and manage dental hygiene practices. These programs include courses in dental anatomy, microbiology, and pathology; dental hygiene theory and techniques; cleaning equipment operation and maintenance; dental materials; radiology; patient education and counselling; office management; supervised clinical training; and professional standards.
See all institutions providing this program+
Dalhousie University
Office of the Registrar
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
(902) 494-2450
admissions@dal.ca
Additional resources: