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NOC Code: NOC Code: 3222 Occupation: Dental Hygienists
Occupation Description: Occupation Description:
Dental hygienists provide dental hygiene treatment and information related to the prevention of diseases and disorders of the teeth and mouth. They are employed in dentists' offices, hospitals, clinics, educational institutions, government agencies and private industry. Dental hygienists provide dental hygiene treatment and information related to the prevention of diseases and disorders of the teeth and mouth. They are employed in dentists' offices, hospitals, clinics, educational institutions, government agencies and private industry.

  • Click on any of the Essential Skills to view sample workplace tasks for this occupation.
  • Skill levels are assigned to tasks: Level 1 tasks are the least complex and level 4 or 5 tasks (depending upon the specific skill) are the most complex. Skill levels are associated with workplace tasks and not the workers performing these tasks.
  • Scroll down the page to get information on career planning, education and training, and employment and volunteer opportunities.

Table will display the Skill Level for the Noc specified
Essential Skills Essential Skills Levels
Reading Text Reading Text 1 2 3 4
Writing Writing 1 2
Document Use Document Use 1 2 3 4
Computer Use Computer Use 1 2
Oral Communication Oral Communication 1 2 3 4
Money Math Money Math 1 2
Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting 1 2 3
Measurement and Calculation Measurement and Calculation 1 2 3
Data Analysis Data Analysis 1 2 3
Numerical Estimation Numerical Estimation 1 2
Job Task Planning and Organizing Job Task Planning and Organizing 1 2
Decision Making Decision Making 1 2
Problem Solving Problem Solving 1 2 3
Finding Information Finding Information 1 2
Critical Thinking Critical Thinking 1 2 3


  • The skill levels represented in the above chart illustrate the full range of sample tasks performed by experienced workers and not individuals preparing for or entering this occupation for the first time.
  • Note that some occupational profiles do not include all Numeracy and Thinking Essential Skills.

If you would like to print a copy of the chart and sample tasks, click on the "Print Occupational Profile" button at the top of the page.


Reading Text
  • Read memos from others in the organization to keep abreast of day-to-day business. (1)
  • Read letters from dentists and specialists describing patients' conditions and dentist-recommended treatments. (2)
  • Read indications for use, precautions and proper handling and storage procedures on the labels of products such as topical fluoride. (2)
  • Read dental equipment manuals for operating instructions. (2)
  • Review completed medical health history forms, progress notes and comments in patients' periodontal records to identify and monitor their status, progress and needs. (2)
  • Scan dental product promotional materials to find the products' applications, benefits and costs. (2)
  • Read dental hygienist association newsletters and articles from websites to find out about continuing education opportunities, resources such as reports about changes in work pattern trends or Canadian clinical dental hygiene practices. Dental Hygienists may also read articles from health care organizations or regulatory authorities on topics such as smoking cessation. (3)
  • Read medical textbooks and pharmaceutical references to learn about medical conditions and identify drug interactions that may limit or preclude certain dental treatments. (3)
  • Refer to the Canadian Dental Hygienist Association Handbook and provincial Dental Hygiene acts to review the Code of Ethics, practice standards, confidentiality requirements, competency standards and continuing education requirements. (3)
  • Read lengthy reports and clinical journal articles to stay informed about new trends, procedures and research findings that affect overall dental hygiene practice. Dental hygienists evaluate the relevance of these materials to their dental hygiene practices. (4)
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Writing
  • Write brief notes and reminders on schedules, calendars and treatment records. For example, write reminders about new patients' concerns and peculiarities on daily schedules. (1)
  • Write instructions, pamphlets and other materials to inform and educate patients about dental diseases, treatments and care. For example, some dental hygienists who work in community health programs prepare handouts for new mothers emphasizing the proper care of babies' teeth. (2)
  • Write longer letters to family physicians, specialists, insurance companies and parents. For example, write referral letters to specialists, outlining patient findings and requesting specialist consultations. Write letters to parents describing proposed treatment plans and to insurance companies in order to explain treatment and justify coverage. The writing is routine and presents factual information using precise technical vocabulary. (2)
  • Record details of discussions with patients on their record forms. For example, write short notes about payment and treatment plans. Be precise and accurate as the notes are later used to prepare formal agreements and contracts. (2)
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Document Use
  • Read lists such as price codes for dental treatments, directories of dentists and dental specialists, and tables comparing the characteristics of anaesthetics. (1)
  • Interpret radiographs of patients' mouths to identify abnormalities or changes and discuss future treatments with dentists. (2)
  • Enter appointment and activity details in schedules and logs. For example, enter appointment details such as patients' names into schedules and calendars. Community hygienists record the number of school visits, fluoride applications, referrals, group presentations and children's ages in activity logs. (2)
  • Scan the labels on medication and chemical containers for concentrations, dosages, warnings, precautions, side effects and directions for use. For example, find dosages and check expiry dates on anaesthetic labels before administering the drugs or scan x-ray developer fluid labels for hazard symbols and storage instructions. (2)
  • Scan health history forms completed by patients and their parents for names, dates, medical conditions and other data needed to complete patients' files and inform treatment decisions. (2)
  • Refer to pictures and diagrams of teeth to explain dental conditions and treatments to patients. (2)
  • Enter patients' names, contact information and treatment details into clinic records and insurance forms. (3)
  • Interpret charts and graphs presented in research journals and reports. For example, observe increases and decreases in graphs which illustrate the incidence and trends of tooth decay in specific populations over time. (3)
  • Enter dates, pocket depth measurements, tooth mobility codes and occlusal findings on periodontal charting forms during assessments and treatments. Mark the dentition diagrams on these forms to note missing teeth, caries or other abnormalities. (4)
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Computer Use
  • Use spreadsheet software. For example, use Excel spreadsheets to prepare schedules or to present fee guides for patients. (2)
  • Use communications software. For example, use email to correspond with co-workers and colleagues about patient and professional development matters. Communicate with members of professional development committees to plan continuing education workshops. (2)
  • Use word processing software. For example, write referral letters to health professionals, letters to parents and educators and create educational handouts and simple forms such as school visit forms. (2)
  • Use Internet browser software to access the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association website and obtain information about the dental hygienists' annual national convention and obtain copies of the national association Code of Ethics. (2)
  • Calculate travel claims. Multiply distances travelled by per kilometre rates to determine travel costs, add meal expenses and calculate total claims. (2)
  • Use graphics software. For example, use PowerPoint to prepare presentations for school visits and use graphics of dental posters and teeth models in presentations. (2)
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Oral Communication
  • Request that office staff perform duties such as making telephone calls, placing supply orders or scheduling school visits. (1)
  • Interact with co-workers and colleagues to coordinate job tasks, discuss common work problems and exchange information about dental hygiene and opinions about professional matters. In some contexts, discuss the effectiveness of community dental health programs. (1)
  • Make telephone calls to schedule patients' appointments. (1)
  • Interact with suppliers to explain unusual orders and to learn about the features, costs and benefits of new products such as tooth whitening strips. (2)
  • Share information about patients with their dentists. Discuss clinical findings, treatment plans and problems noted during examinations. Clear communication and accurate conveying of information is important to prevent patients from suffering discomfort and possible adverse reactions. (3)
  • Discuss children's dental health with parents. Explain examination results in simple, appropriate language, outline treatment procedures and provide advice about dental hygiene. If hygienists fail to communicate effectively, parents may not understand treatment and continuing care information and children's dental health will suffer. (3)
  • Speak with patients of all ages and various nationalities to understand their needs, provide dental health instruction, explain treatments and procedures, answer their questions and reassure them. Talk about the importance of regular dental flossing, deal with children's emotional outbursts and explain complex dental procedures in understandable terms. Adapt your communication styles and language to best meet the needs of patients. (3)
  • Facilitate group discussions and make presentations to school children, teachers, parents, co-workers and colleagues about dental health topics such as proper dental hygiene and summaries of dental hygiene research studies. Dental hygienists may select visual aids such as dental posters and teeth models and prepare presentation outlines, speaking notes and PowerPoint slides to promote interest and aid understanding. They promote interaction and deal with questions from group participants. If they don't communicate effectively, they can lose credibility and dental education opportunities. (3)
  • Present results of scientific studies such as the effects of antiseptic mouth rinses on oral health to peers at professional development events such as the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association's Annual Conference. Interpret and summarize study results and prepare recommendations so that peers can apply the findings to their dental hygiene practices. Presentations must be prepared to answer challenging questions and justify analyses and recommendations. Hygienists who do not communicate effectively with their peers lose credibility. (4)
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Money Math
  • Check the invoices generated by dental management systems and take payments from patients. (1)
  • Approve payments for supplies. Confirm that products, quantities and prices match purchase orders. Multiply quantities delivered by unit prices, add taxes and calculate totals to ensure that suppliers have not made mistakes. (2)
  • Calculate travel claims. Multiply distances travelled by per kilometre rates to determine travel costs, add meal expenses and calculate total claims. (2)
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Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting
  • Plan and monitor schedules. For example, plan multi-treatment schedules to deliver dental services over several appointments. Monitor patient appointments for adherence to scheduled times and make schedule adjustments to minimize waiting times. Dental hygienists in some community health programs plan and schedule clinics and presentations for schools and seniors' facilities. (1)
  • Compare costs of treatment options to help patients with limited financial resources choose among treatment alternatives. (2)
  • Monitor departmental budgets. For example, review quarterly statements to ensure they have used all available funding, and may adjust budgets to allow the purchase of required materials by allocating funds from other categories. (3)
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Measurement and Calculation
  • Take measurements with probes, rulers and measurement guides. For example, measure periodontal pockets using probes to identify gum disease and use rulers to measure the spaces between the teeth to see if the teeth have moved. Dental hygienists in some community health programs measure 'overbite,' the distance that the upper teeth go past lower teeth; and 'over jet,' the horizontal projection of upper teeth beyond the lower teeth. They also measure teeth to determine where to place brackets for braces. (2)
  • Measure angles to line up x-ray machines so that the intended areas are captured. For example, use bitewing, periapical, occlusal and panoramic x-rays to capture pictures of teeth, gums, tooth roots, mouth roof and floor, jaws, sinuses and nasal areas. On some occasions use protractors to measure angles for conducting orthodontic evaluations. (3)
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Data Analysis
  • Compare measurements over time to evaluate patient status. For example, compare patients' periodontal record measurement data from one appointment to the next appointment to monitor the progression of receding gums. (2)
  • Analyze dental program utilization data in some community health settings. For example, count the number of screenings, fluoride treatments and sealants applied in school clinics to determine the average number of services provided to schools annually. (2)
  • Collect and analyze dental health data for specific populations. For example, hygienists working in public health programs may collect data about students' decayed, missing and filled teeth to identify schools where dental health is at greatest risk. They compare this data over time and across schools to monitor trends and identify priorities. (3)
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Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate the time required to complete dental procedures. Consider patients' treatment needs and your own experience conducting similar procedures. If hygienists don't estimate appointment times carefully, dentists lose money and patients are inconvenienced. (2)
  • Estimate amounts of supplies such as toothbrushes to order. Estimate the numbers required over specified time periods, according to the numbers of patients to be seen and knowledge of typical supply usage. For efficiency, it is important to have critical supplies on hand at all times. (2)
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Job Task Planning and Organizing
  • Dental hygienists working in their own practices plan and schedule their own appointments. They may coordinate their work with dentists closely, allowing patients to see both during single clinic visits. Dental hygienists often revise work schedules to deal with emergencies and unexpected events such as missed appointments or storm days that cancel school dental clinics. Dental hygienists working in schools and clinics plan the work of their receptionists and assistants, based on the number of appointments they must plan and schedule. Those working in community settings may assist in the organizational planning of community dental health programs. For example, they may select schools to target, set the number of clinic days required and specify the types of services to be provided at each school. (2)
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Decision Making
  • Decide which instruments to use to conduct dental procedures using well-defined dental hygiene practice standards. (1)
  • Decide where to place the brackets for braces on patients' teeth according to well-defined dental hygiene practice standards. If dental hygienists place brackets incorrectly, there could be significant loss of money, time and credibility of the dental hygienists as well as their practices. (2)
  • Decide the type, intensity and frequency of treatments. For example, decide whether to schedule cleanings at three, six, or nine month intervals depending on patients' oral health, oral hygiene and financial means. You are guided by professional training and practical experience when determining recall and treatment schedules. (2)
  • Decide which dental treatments to administer. For example, decide to apply sealants to children's molars to prevent tooth decay. Although sealants are helpful to prevent tooth decay, they should not be applied unnecessarily since they are costly and once initiated, must be reapplied regularly. Dental hygienists follow standard criteria for applying sealants and consider their previous experience to guide decision making. (2)
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Problem Solving
  • Deal with scheduling problems when treatments take longer than expected, when patients arrive late for appointments, staff members call in sick or bad weather causes appointment cancellations. Dental hygienists apologize for delays they cause and offer to reschedule appointments. To ease congested waiting rooms, they may ask for assistance from co-workers or may work faster to get the work done in shorter time periods. (1)
  • Discover patients who present unusual or unexpected symptoms or conditions. For example, when you discover abnormal tissue during patient examinations consult dentists immediately. Note concerns and ask for dentists' opinions about appropriate follow-up actions and care. (2)
  • Deal with angry and disruptive patients. Dental hygienists remain calm, allowing patients to express their anger and when suitable, presenting patients with alternate treatment options. If patients become verbally abusive and display inappropriate behaviours, dental hygienists must ensure the safety of other patients and may call security to escort the disruptive individuals off the premises. (2)
  • Observe that patients are extremely fearful and have irrational concerns about dental treatments. Dental hygienists review the rationale and treatment approaches with patients. They assess how much treatment patients can handle within each visit. They may postpone or reschedule treatments or suggest that patients consider sedation. (2)
  • Deal with patients, dentists and other health care professionals who disagree with your professional opinion. When dental hygienists and dentists disagree about the appropriateness of patient treatments, they write, date and sign detailed observations in patient records and closely assess patients at subsequent visits. They minimize the likelihood of conflicts with dentists by presenting their concerns to them in a professional manner and choosing to work with dentists who have standards and values similar to their own. (3)
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Finding Information
  • Find information about dental and periodontal diseases by reading textbooks, journals and other references, talking to colleagues and carrying out research. Use the Internet to access materials at remote libraries and dental health databases. (2)
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Critical Thinking
  • Make preliminary assessments of patients' suitability for orthodontic treatments. Consider the results of orthodontic evaluations, patients' oral hygiene and patients' motivation to undergo treatment. Dental hygienists share their findings with dentists who make the final assessments of patients' suitability for orthodontic treatments. (2)
  • Evaluate the appropriateness and risks of particular anaesthetics, antibiotics and fluoride treatments for patients. Consider patients' overall health, the length of appointments and the location of the teeth being treated before conferring with dentists to confirm the assessments. (2)
  • Evaluate patients' oral and dental health and identify treatment needs. Examine the anatomy of the mouth and look for calcium deposits, bleeding and infections. Examine the status of the gums, tongue, mouth floor, lymph nodes and glands to identify abnormalities and changes from previous visits. Note any changes, discuss them with patients and communicate any immediate concerns to both patients and dentists. Accurate assessments are important so that patient dental problems are identified and addressed as soon as possible. Dental hygienists in community settings may conduct dental risk assessments to target the most high-risk children for treatments. (2)
  • Assess the need for fluoride applications. Consider patients' past restorative histories and the amounts of root exposure to determine if fluoride should be applied at home as well as in dentists' offices. Fluoride treatments are important for preventive dental care. (2)
  • Assess the effectiveness of community dental health programs. Analyze and monitor service utilization and dental status statistics to determine if there are changes in children's dental risk level scores. Also consider input from parents, teachers, dentists and colleagues. Gathering and assessing quantitative and qualitative data is essential to the continued support of many public health programs. (3)
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