What Is a Dental Hygienist?
A dental hygienist is a regulated health professional who works in a variety of settings, including private practice, public health, hospitals, long-term care facilities, educational institutions and research. They can work independent of or alongside a dentist and are an important part of your health care team.
Dental hygienists focus primarily on oral disease prevention but can also be involved in orthodontic procedures such as braces. Some also have a specialty certificate and are involved in providing restorative services such as placing fillings.
Your dental hygienist will work with you to determine your care plan and help you maintain proper oral health. Dental hygienists provide a range of personalized care. Only regulated health professionals may provide dental hygiene services.
The College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario (CDHO)
The College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario regulates the practice of dental hygiene by setting the requirements to be registered as a dental hygienist and establishing practice standards for the safe, ethical care of all Ontarians. To practise dental hygiene in Ontario, a person must be registered with the CDHO. Only those persons currently registered with the CDHO may use the title “dental hygienist” or any variety or translation of “dental hygienist”, including the initials RDH (Registered Dental Hygienist).
Dental hygiene in Ontario has been a self-regulating profession since December 31, 1993. “Self-regulated” means that the dental hygiene profession governs itself through the CDHO, and the CDHO has the responsibility and legal authority to act in the best interests of the public. It does this by:
- Confirming that professionals have met specific requirements before they can register to practise in Ontario.
- Developing and updating the standards for the profession, i.e. the rules that every member of that profession must follow.
- Helping professionals to stay current and grow their skills – and confirming that knowledge – through quality assurance and continuing education programs.
- Addressing public concerns about a profession’s conduct or practice, and conducting investigations or hearings into complaints.
Only regulated health professionals may provide dental hygiene services. While dental hygienists work in various settings, the easiest way to find one is on the CDHO’s public register.