- Dental hygiene education in Saskatchewan is attained through a two year diploma program at the Saskatchewan Polytechnic (previously SIAST), Wascana Campus in Regina. Course of study includes all areas that will support evidence-based practice such as:
- Biomedical sciences (e.g. histology, microbiology, pharmacology, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, nutrition, pathology )
- Dental sciences (e.g. dental anatomy, embryology, head and neck anatomy, oral pathology, oral physiology, oral therapeutics, dental radiography)
- Clinical practice, including the administration of local anaesthetic
- Community health
- Education foundations
- Research methods
- Health promotion
Additionally, dental hygienists can apply to be on specific rosters indicating that they have the education and competencies for:
- Restorative procedures
- Orthodontic procedures
Some dental hygienists complete further education at a Bachelor, Masters or PhD level. The University of Regina offers a degree completion option for dental hygienists; Bachelor of Health Studies. Information about the Health studies degree can be found at the following site: (www.uregina.ca/kinesiology/healthstudies)
National Dental Hygiene Certification Examination (NDHCE)
In addition to regular course examinations given as part of the required educational program, all dental hygiene graduates must successfully complete the National Dental Hygiene Certification Examination (NDHCE). This examination is taken after the educational requirements have been met and is required for licensure in all Canadian provinces.
Dental hygiene graduates who have not graduated from a CDAC accredited educational program must also complete a “Clinical Practice Evaluation”.
Career as a dental hygienist
A dental hygienist is an integral member of a multidisciplinary health care team and may work in a variety of settings. Practice environments include, but are not limited to:
- Clinical practice – dental hygienist and/or dentist owned
- Schools and Institutions
- Public health and community health
- Homecare and other outreach programs
- Primary health care centres
- Hospital facilities
- Educational institutions (e.g. universities, community colleges)
- The military
- Industries (e.g. insurance and dental supply companies)
- Consulting firms
- Professional presenters
- Regulatory bodies and professional associations
- Government (e.g. policy planning)
Some of the services provided by dental hygienists may include:
- patient screening procedures; such as assessment of oral health conditions, review of the health history, oral cancer screening, head and neck inspection, dental charting and taking blood pressure and pulse
- taking and developing dental radiographs (x-rays)
- removing calculus and plaque (hard and soft deposits) from all surfaces of the teeth
- applying preventive materials to the teeth (e.g., sealants and fluorides)
- teaching patients appropriate oral hygiene strategies to maintain oral health;
(e.g., toothbrushing, flossing and nutritional counseling)
- counseling patients about good nutrition and its impact on oral health
- making impressions of patients’ teeth for study casts (models of teeth used by dentists to evaluate patient treatment needs)
- performing documentation and office management activities
Dental hygiene offers the following challenges and rewards:
Personal satisfaction: One of the most enjoyable aspects of a career in dental hygiene is working with people. Personal fulfillment comes from providing a valuable health care service while establishing trusting relationships with patients.
Prestige: As a result of their education and clinical training in a highly skilled discipline, dental hygienists are respected as valued members of the oral health care team.
Variety: Dental hygienists use a variety of interpersonal and clinical skills to meet the oral health needs of many different patients each day. Hygienists have opportunities to help special population groups such as children, the elderly and the disabled. They may also provide oral health instruction in primary and secondary schools and other settings.
Creativity: Because dental hygienists interact with such diverse population groups, they must be creative in their approach to patient management and oral health education.
Flexibility: The flexibility offered by full- and part-time employment options and availability of evening and weekend hours enable dental hygienists to balance their career and lifestyle needs. Hygienists also have opportunities to work in a wide variety of settings including private dental practices, educational and community institutions, research teams and dental corporations.
Security: The services that dental hygienists provide are needed and valued by a large percentage of the population. There is currently a great demand for dental hygienists. Employment opportunities will be excellent well into the future. Due to the success of preventive dentistry in reducing the incidence of oral disease, the expanding older population will retain their teeth longer, and will be even more aware of the importance of regular dental care. With the emphasis on preventive care, dentists will need to employ more dental hygienists than ever before to meet the increased demand for dental services.
To register as a dental hygienist in SK, please visit the Registration and Licensure page
On October - 31 - 2012