If you have a passion for dental hygiene but you do not want to endure the many years in dental school required for one to become a dentist or your grades do not allow you to be a dentist, consider a career as a dental hygienist. Dental hygienists in Canada make a good living and the profession has a low unemployment rate.

How does One Qualify?

To be a dental hygienist in Canada, you will need to get a college degree or diploma from a dental hygienist school (college or university). Dental schools in Canada have to be accredited by The Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada

After your studies, you will sit an exam by the NDHCB or National Dental Hygiene Certification Board (unless you are studying in Quebec, in which case you will be exempt from the exam).

Once you have passed the exam and you have your diploma, you will need to be registered by the relevant government regulatory body. As an example, this is the College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario’s (CDHO).

From time to time, you will be assessed to by the regulatory body to ensure you can continue offering this invaluable service. In Ontario, CDHO has a Quality Assurance Program for ensuring continuous professional development.

It important to note that dental hygienists offer different services in different provinces. As an example, some dental hygienists can administer anaesthesia in some provinces while those in other provinces cannot. If you are moving from a province that has such limitations, get the extra qualification to serve your patients better (and to increase your chances of getting employment).

How much does the job pay?

Statistics from the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association show that dental hygienists are well paid, making an average of $70,647 per year, which translates to about $40.18 per hour.

Remuneration is usually on an hourly basis. However, commissions are also common. Commissions are calculated based on the dental hygiene services you have billing and are usually in the range of 25%. The clinic that has employed you will be responsible for deducting and submitting payroll taxes such as provincial and federal income tax, Employment Insurance premiums, and Canada Pension Plan to the tax man.

If you want to be an independent contractor or to be self-employed, you have to fulfill the criteria set forth by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to determine if you are self-employed or an employee. Since you will be working alongside a dentist in a dental practice, determine if you are an employee or self-employed is a bit tricky and often requires a ruling as described in the CRA booklet publication #RC4110.


Canada is an aging society and as such, dental hygienist services are on demand. The unemployment rate for dental hygienists is well below the national average (2.1% against 6.5% according to 2015 Canadian Dental Hygienists Association statistics).

According to Employment and Social Development Canada, the profession of dental hygienist is described as a “technical occupation in health care” and its outlook is measures alongside those of dental therapists, dental technologists, lab bench workers, and denturists.