Post-Graduate Educational Options
The post-graduate study options for dental hygienists are truly endless, as dental hygiene provides graduates with an excellent foundation in health care, specifically as it relates to oral care. Many dental hygienist graduates further their education in other medical- and health-related fields. While bachelor’s degree and graduate-level degrees are available in dental hygiene, they are rather limited due to the technical nature of the profession. Still, students wishing to pursue higher education do have options.
Restorative Dental Hygiene
At several colleges across the country, a graduate certificate in restorative dental hygiene is available. Graduates of these programs are able to perform a number of restorative and cosmetic procedures in a clinical setting, such as place and finish amalgam, composite and provisional restorations, and more. Most restorative dental hygiene programs are two semesters long and require a dental hygiene diploma as the pre-requisite.
A bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene is a great option for dental hygienists who have a passion for research or for those who wish to become leaders in the profession. Currently, Canada has four undergraduate dental hygiene programs: The University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, Dalhousie University and the University of Manitoba. Each of these universities offer degree completion options for dental hygiene diploma recipients, which allows entrants to transfer some of their credits, shortening the length of the program by as much as two years in many cases.
Students with a degree in dental hygiene who wish to pursue graduate studies have a number of options to consider, though most require them to step outside the specific field of dental hygiene. At this time, the University of Alberta hosts the only Masters in Medical Sciences (Dental Hygiene) in Canada. The program is completely research-driven, meaning students will conduct supervised research on a specialized topic of their choice leading to the preparation and presentation of a thesis.
Additionally, there are related master’s programs, like the Master of Public Health and Diploma in Dental Public Health (MPH/DPH) program at the University of British Columbia. This program, which is open to students with a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene, prepares graduates to help address community oral health needs and to develop and implement oral health policies at various levels.
The University of Toronto offers a Master’s of Dental Public Health program. This program is open to students with a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene
While there are no Ph.D. options in dental hygiene in Canada at this time, there are Ph.D. programs in oral biology, like the one offered through the University of Alberta. Like the research-oriented master’s degree, the Ph.D. program in oral biology requires a supervisor and an independently researched thesis upon completion. This specialization allows students to engage more intimately with the development and function of the oral cavity’s tissues and how they interrelate with other organs and systems. The potential research areas are truly unlimited, encompassing anything from cancer research, oral infectious diseases, microbial pathogenesis, and more.