General dental practice
General dental practice is the traditional area of employment for dental hygienists. Settings include solo or group practices in general dentistry or dental specialties. Possible opportunities for restorative dental hygienists in such settings.
Restorative dental hygienists
Restorative dental hygienists perform restorative and preventive procedures such as placing and finishing amalgam, composite, and temporary restorations, taking final impressions, and cementing provisional and indirect restorations. Additional education and a specialty certificate is required in Ontario for dental hygienists to perform restorative procedures.
Colleges offering Restorative Dental Hygiene Courses/Programs
Speciality Dental Practices:
Orthodontics perform orthodontic procedures under client-specific orders of a dentist. Clients are mainly children and youth, however many adults seek orthodontic treatment as well. A specialty certificate is not required to perform orthodontic procedures; however, the dental hygienist must be competent and have a client-specific order before performing any orthodontic procedures (Milestones, Mar 2012, pages 26-27).
Paedodontics is an opportunity to provide dental hygiene care and treatment for infants and children through to adolescence.
Periodontics is an opportunity to hone scaling and root planing skills as this practice area often encounters more complex periodontal cases.
Prosthodontics is an opportunity to provide dental hygiene therapy for clients who undergo complex restorations or full mouth rehabilitation.
Independent dental hygiene practice
Independent dental hygiene practice provide clients with direct access to dental hygiene care and services via mobile or stationary dental hygiene clinics.
- Mobile dental hygiene services – e.g. private homes, long-term care homes, seniors’ residences, group homes, rural or remote areas.
- Mobile Sports mouth guard practice – fabricate sports mouth guard for community or professional sports teams.
- Freestanding dental hygiene clinic – own private office or share office space (e.g. with other healthcare providers)
- Non-Insured Health Benefits Program (NIHB) – provide services under NIHB Program for eligible First Nations and Inuit communities
- Employee – working for an independent dental hygiene practice
Public health offers a career in community oral health. Responsibilities may include assessing the oral health status of children up to age seventeen in school and clinical settings, dental screenings of adults in seniors’ residences (e.g. nursing homes, long-term care homes, retirement homes, and collective living centres), conducting oral health workshops, and providing dental hygiene services in dental clinics (e.g. Public Health Dental Clinics, Community Health Centres, & Aboriginal Health Access Centres), and/or mobile clinics.
Education offers the chance to work as educators for dental hygiene and/or dental assisting programs in community and private career colleges or university dentistry programs. Clinical and/or didactic instruction. May require additional education (e.g. certificate in adult education, bachelor’s degree or higher). Corporations may hire educators to provide professional development (PD) for dental hygienists, dentists, and dental assistants.
There are opportunities to be employed by the oral health industry. Opportunities include sales, product education, product research, administration, and working trade-shows. Often involves traveling to distribute products, and to educate and meet with customers.
There are opportunities to conduct research to advance the profession of dental hygiene. A bachelor’s degree or higher is generally required.
Hospitals offer the opportunity to work within multidisciplinary healthcare teams to provide dental hygiene services for individuals with chronic and complex health issues. Areas may include pediatric, oncology, or maxillofacial prosthetics clinics.
Correctional Facilities provide dental hygiene services for the inmate population.
There are various opportunities to provide volunteer dental hygiene care for underprivileged populations. For example, inner city missions, free dental clinics, or dental mission trips abroad. Additional opportunities to volunteer with the Ontario Dental Hygienists’ Association, or local dental hygiene societies.
There are various administration positions in various sectors. For example in dental insurance claims departments, office management, program or clinical director of dental hygiene or dental assistant programs, health care regulatory bodies, provincial ministries or federal government agencies and departments (e.g. in regulation, policy, or health promotion).
There are opportunities to develop and establish a non-traditional business. Examples include product and technology developer; professional development (PD) provider, employment services, professional writer (e.g. for health care journals, textbooks, magazines), consulting business, practice management company, or professional speaker.
National Defense & the Canadian Armed Forces
There are various opportunities to provide dental hygiene therapy in urban, tactical and naval environments, as a civilian or as a member of the Canadian Forces.
Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT)
There are opportunities to treat orofacial myofunctional disorders in order to correct or eliminate dysfunctional oral habits. Additional education and training is necessary to incorporate OMT into a dental hygiene practice. Milestones, 2016, Issue 1, pages 10-12.