Education Options in Dental Hygiene

Dental Hygiene Education Options

Dental hygiene education in Alberta is offered through the Dental Hygiene Program at the School of Dentistry in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at University of Alberta (U of A). This program is the approved program for registration and serves as the benchmark program for study for all persons applying for registration in Alberta. All dental hygiene education programs outside of Alberta must meet a requirement for substantive equivalency for new registrations.

Beginning in 2020, all graduates from the U of A Dental Hygiene Program convocate with a Bachelor of Science Degree with a Dental Hygiene Specialization (BScDH).

Registered dental hygienists may improve their career opportunities by applying to be on specific advanced practice rosters after successfully completing specific Council-approved courses. These rosters indicate that the registered dental hygienist has the advanced education and competencies to:

  • Prescribe the medications used in dental hygiene practice;
  • Administer local anaesthetic by injection;
  • Prescribe and administer nitrous oxide/oxygen for conscious sedation;
  • Perform restorative procedures; and/or
  • Perform certain orthodontic procedures.

Administrative and teaching positions in Alberta generally require completion of graduate education at a Masters or PhD level.

Out-of-Province Education

All Canadian regulatory authorities advise prospective students to choose an accredited dental hygiene program. The Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada (CDAC) is the body responsible for accrediting dental, dental specialty, dental residency, dental hygiene, and dental assisting education programs across Canada.

Visit CDAC's website to check that a program you are considering is accredited.

You should be aware that not all programs offer an education that is substantially equivalent to the U of A Dental Hygiene Program. If you wish to practice dental hygiene in Alberta and are considering dental hygiene education outside of Alberta, be sure to investigate the course thoroughly prior to making your choice to ensure that it is substantially equivalent to the U of A Dental Hygiene Program.

National Examination

All registrants must successfully complete the National Dental Hygiene Certification Board's (NDHCB) examination as a condition for registration. The NDHCB website posts the aggregate examination results from various programs. You may wish to consider these exam success percentages for any programs you are considering.