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Inactive Class Guidelines

The Inactive Class is a type of Certificate of Registration for RDHs who will not be practising for an extended period, but who wish to maintain their registration with CDHO. Reasons to apply for an Inactive Certificate of Registration include:

  • Family/parental leave
  • Educational leave/returning to school
  • Temporary move to another jurisdiction
  • Medical/personal leave
  • Retirement/career change

The Inactive Class is not designed for short-term absences from practice (e.g., temporary unemployment, extended vacation, etc.). RDHs who are not planning to return to practice as a Dental Hygienist in Ontario may also consider resigning.

RDHs in the Inactive Class cannot practise as a Dental Hygienist in Ontario. They pay a reduced annual fee and are not required to maintain professional liability insurance coverage for the period in which they are not practising (RDHs should ensure they still hold “tail coverage” for the period in which they were practising). RDHs in Inactive Class must still comply with CDHO’s Quality Assurance Program.

Practising as a Dental Hygienist

The practice of dental hygiene is the assessment of teeth and adjacent tissues and treatment by preventive and therapeutic means, and the provision of restorative and orthodontic procedures and services. When practising dental hygiene, and subject to specific rules, RDHs can perform the following controlled acts:

  1. Scaling teeth and root planing, including curetting surrounding tissue.
  2. Orthodontic and restorative procedures.
  3. Prescribing, dispensing, compounding or selling a drug designated in the regulations (i.e., chlorhexidine, fluoride).

RDHs in the Inactive Class cannot practise as a Dental Hygienist in Ontario or perform any of the controlled acts listed above, even on a volunteer or temporary basis.

Certain acts, such as teeth whitening, polishing and oral hygiene instruction, fall within the scope of practice of dental hygiene, but can also be performed by non-regulated individuals because they are not controlled acts. Due to the legitimate expectation of clients that a person offering these services is practising as a Dental Hygienist, CDHO expects that RDHs who perform these types of activities are registered in the General or Specialty Class. Dental Hygienists who wish to do this work without being accountable to the College should resign their Certificate of Registration.

RDHs who provide non-clinical instruction in dental hygiene education programs may hold a Certificate of Registration in the Inactive Class. Any instruction provided must be limited to theory, rather than clinical practice.

To determine whether you are practising as a Dental Hygienist, consider the following questions:

  • Am I performing any of the controlled acts (i.e., scaling, root planing, restorative, orthodontics, prescribing, etc.)?
  • Do I use the title “Dental Hygienist” or “Registered Dental Hygienist” while providing clinical treatment, advice, education or other services within the scope of dental hygiene?
  • Am I relying on my knowledge, skills and judgment as a Dental Hygienist to perform my duties?
  • Are clients seeking a treatment or service from me because of my training as a Dental Hygienist?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, you are likely practising and would not be permitted to hold a Certificate of Registration in the Inactive Class.

Eligibility for the Inactive Class

You are eligible to apply for the Inactive Class if you:

  • are a current holder of a General or Specialty Certificate of Registration, or
  • are registered as a Dental Hygienist in another Canadian jurisdiction and meet specified registration requirements in Ontario, or
  • are not registered with CDHO, but you meet specified requirements for registration with CDHO.

RDHs can apply for the Inactive Class by submitting a request through the Self-Service Portal. Other applicants who meet the eligibility criteria, but who are not currently registered with CDHO, can apply by contacting the Registration Department at

Use of Title

RDHs in the Inactive Class may use the titles “Dental Hygienist” or “Registered Dental Hygienist” and the abbreviation “RDH” but should be careful not to claim to be able to practise as a Dental Hygienist in Ontario. It is good practice to list “Inactive” following the use of the RDH designation in professional materials (e.g., “Jane Smith, RDH (Inactive)”).

Returning to Practice

RDHs in the Inactive Class cannot return to practice until they have completed all necessary steps and received confirmation from CDHO.

If you are registered in the Inactive Class for less than three years, you may return to the General or Specialty Class by applying to CDHO and paying the required fees. This process can take up to 10 business days, and you cannot practise until CDHO has updated your Certificate of Registration.

If you have not practised for more than three years, you will also need to demonstrate current competence in dental hygiene before you can be issued a Certificate of Registration that permits you to practise. You can do this by any of the following means:

  • Having practised dental hygiene in another jurisdiction within the previous three years in a manner that demonstrates that you could meet the current standards of practice in Ontario.
  • Completing a refresher course approved by the Registration Committee.
  • Undergoing a professional competency assessment set by the Registration Committee and, if recommended by the assessment, completing upgrading courses approved by the Registration Committee.

If you have questions about the Inactive Class, please contact