Enter a Dental Hygienist Program
The first step towards becoming a dental hygienist in Ontario is attending a school of dental hygienists. You should only go to a school whose programs are Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada (CDAC). If the program is not approved, you may not be able to sit the National Dental Hygiene Certification Board, meaning you will have wasted your time in school.
Get CDHO Licensing
After training, you must then seek licensing from the relevant provincial regulatory authority. In Ontario, this is the College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario (CDHO). You must take and pass the entry-to-practice examinations before registration. The exam has 2 components: a written exam that is administered by the NDHCB (National Dental Hygiene Certification Board) and if (and only if) you pass this exam, a clinical exam that is administered by the CDHO. The College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario has adopted the Canadian Performance Exam in Dental Hygiene (CPEDH) which is a practical exam that assesses your clinical skills.
Join Trade/Professional Bodies
It is a good idea to seek Ontario Dental Hygienists’ Association (ODHA), Canadian Dental Hygienist Association (CDHA), and membership with other profession/trade organizations. These organizations are created to safeguard the interest of dental hygienists. You will have an upper hand when looking for employment if you are a member since potential employers will know you live by the strict rules set by the organization.
Gather the Relevant Skills
While in school or in an internship position, you will need to perfect several hard and soft skills. The hard skills you need include taking x-rays, doing fluoride treatment, teeth cleaning/whitening, applying sealants, and giving oral health instructions. You will use your hands a lot in the job, so you will need to work on your motor skills and your endurance & physical strength. The soft skills you need include honing your communication and interpersonal skills, time management skills, a professional demeanor and attitude, and intellectual, conceptual, & cognitive skills.
Find a Job
You are now ready to find a job as a dental hygienist. In its 2017 Job Market & Employment Survey, CDHA found that 92% of respondents (all dental hygienists) work in clinical dental hygiene. Of the respondents who work in specialty practices, 37% work in periodontics while 34% work in orthodontics. The report also showed that of those who wanted a change, 30% want to switch to community health, 24% want to work in educational institutions, and 13% want to establish independent practices.
School of Dental Hygienists
The dental hygienist profession has a low unemployment rate (1.3% in 2017, way below the national average), meaning finding a job is not difficult. Start attending a school of dental hygienists.You might, however, have to start in an internship position at a dentist’s clinic to learn the ropes.
Continuing Education/Professional Development
Although not a requirement, getting continuing education allows you to acquaint yourself with the latest techniques, tools, and theory in the field. This will set you apart from your peers and increase your chances of career growth. CDHA gives several professional development opportunities through workshops, online courses and webinars, publications like the Canadian Journal of Dental Hygiene (CJDH), and study groups.