The Health Professions Act(HPA or the Act) came into force in Alberta in 2001. The profession of dental hygiene was included in 2006 and the College of Registered Dental Hygienists of Alberta (CRDHA) was established as the governing body for the dental hygiene profession in Alberta.
There are currently 28 regulatory colleges established under the Act with delegated authority to govern health professions in Alberta. The job of a regulatory college is to protect the public from unsafe practice and to hold its registrants accountable for the care they provide.
The HPA places responsibility on the CRDHA to:
Carry out its activities and govern the dental hygiene profession in a manner that protects and serves the public interest
Establish, maintain and regulate the entry level and continuing competence required to provide dental hygiene care
Establish, maintain and enforce standards of practice
Establish, maintain and enforce a code of ethics
Approve programs of study and education courses for the purpose of registration requirements
Perform other duties and functions by the exercise of the powers confirmed by the Act.
The unique aspects of the practice of Alberta dental hygienists are identified in schedule 5 of the HPA.
The CRDHA published a 15-minute webinar on the Regulation of Dental Hygienists in Alberta. Click here to view.
Dental Hygienists Profession Regulation
Under the Health Professions Act, each profession has its own regulation. The Dental Hygienists Profession Regulation is the document that guides the College in its regulation of dental hygienists in Alberta.
Dental Hygienist Professional Regulation establishes, among other things, the requirements for:
Registration of a new applicant
Evidence of good character
English language requirements
Renewal of registration
Continuing competence, including practice hours and program credits
It also identifies:
The activities and restricted activities dental hygienists may provide in the practice of dental hygiene and in accordance with the standards of practice approved by Council
Restricted activities that a registrant may be authorized by the College to perform after advanced education
An alternative complaint resolution process
Practice visit purposes
Reinstatement of registration requirements
Restricted title use
Standards and Guidelines
It is the responsibility of all Alberta registered dental hygienists to comply with CRDHA's Standards of Practice. This includes the Practice Standards, Code of Ethics, specific standards of practice, and Practice Guidelines. All regulated members must apply these Standards of Practice in their practice of dental hygiene care, regardless of practice setting or area of responsibility.
In 2022, the College revised and developed new Standards of Practice with consultation from registered dental hygienists and the public. These new Standards of Practice went out to the Government of Alberta for consultation in early 2023.
New Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Guidelines have been developed as a collaboration between the CRDHA, the College of Alberta Dental Assistants, the College of Alberta Denturists, and the College of Dental Technicians of Alberta and have been approved by the Councils of all four Colleges. The new IPC guidelines went into effect on June 1, 2022.
The Health Professions Act obligates all health professionals to view the maintenance of competence and the ability to apply advances in their profession as a lifelong process. It requires colleges to establish mandatory continuing competency programs in their regulations, and to link obtaining practice permits to participation in continuing competency programs.
The specifics of each college’s continuing competence program are explained in its regulation. All colleges approach continuing competence differently, but usually include one or more of the following:
Continuing education (a certain number of credits per year)
Self-directed learning, self-assessment and evaluation, and the development of competence plans
Re-certifications on a regular basis (for example, CPR)