Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists

(NOC 3222)

in All Health

Dental hygienists provide dental hygiene treatment and information related to the prevention of diseases and disorders of the teeth and mouth. They work in dentists' offices, hospitals, clinics, educational institutions, government agencies and private industry. Dental therapists carry out limited dental services related to the prevention and treatment of diseases and disorders of the teeth and mouth. They work for federal government and the provincial governments to provide services in rural and remote communities.

Job Outlook

Good

Read more

  • Estimate Moderate growth employment change, 2021-2023
  • Estimate 85 openings due to growth and retirements, 2021-2023
  • Estimate Low rate of unemployment in 2022

Compared to: All Health

  • Estimate 3550 employment change, 2021-2023
  • Estimate 6335 openings due to growth and retirements, 2021-2023
  • Estimate rate of unemployment not available for these occupation.

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “good”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is better than average when compared to other occupations in Nova Scotia. This is a moderate sized occupation in Nova Scotia so some job opportunities may occur through turnover. The number employed in this occupation is expected to grow significantly over the next few years, which will provide additional opportunities for employment. With a small percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are not expected to be a major contributor to employment opportunities over the coming years. Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists most commonly work full-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs are typically permanent positions. With employment conditions being somewhat seasonal, periods of downtime or layoff throughout the year affect some workers.

The number of dentists in Nova Scotia has been increasing, resulting in additional job opportunities for dental hygienists. Demand for this occupation is strong and is expected to increase further in the next few years. There are typically vacancies throughout the province, though the number of jobseekers competing for a position may be greater in Halifax than in smaller communities. Full-time, part-time, and fill-in positions are often all available, increasing the chance that applicants will find a position with their preferred number of hours.

Hourly Pay

$32.27

Minimum

$35.00

Median

$39.00

Maximum

Annual Pay

$21,604

Minimum

$53,822

Median

$73,756

Maximum

Compared to: All Health

Hourly Pay

$16.70

Minimum

$26.60

Median

$43.30

Maximum

Annual Pay

$10,740

Minimum

$43,853

Median

$88,944

Maximum

About the job

Nature of work

Dental hygienists provide dental hygiene treatment and information related to the prevention of diseases and disorders of the teeth and mouth. They work in dentists' offices, hospitals, clinics, educational institutions, government agencies and private industry. Dental therapists carry out limited dental services related to the prevention and treatment of diseases and disorders of the teeth and mouth. They work for federal government and the provincial governments to provide services in rural and remote communities.

Job duties

Dental hygienists:

  • Conduct an initial dental assessment and consult with dentists on patient care.
  • Take dental impressions.
  • Instruct patients regarding oral hygiene procedures.
  • Clean and stimulate the gums to prevent gum disease.
  • Remove stains and deposits from teeth to prevent tooth and root decay.
  • Apply fluoride treatment.
  • Take and develop X-rays.
  • May complete restorative and orthodontic procedures under the direction of a dentist.
  • May supervise dental assistants in their health care functions.

Dental therapists:

  • Conduct dental assessments and consult with dentist on patient care.
  • Take dental impressions.
  • Take and develop X-rays.
  • Remove stains and deposits from teeth to prevent tooth and root decay.
  • Apply fluoride treatment.
  • Instruct patients regarding oral hygiene procedures.
  • Supervise dental assistants in their health care functions.
  • May drill and fill cavities, extract teeth and replace portions of tooth crown.

Sample job titles

  • dental hygiene technician
  • dental hygienist
  • dental nurse
  • dental therapist
  • orthodontic hygienist
  • periodontal hygienist
  • registered dental hygienist
  • registered dental therapist

Skills

  • You should have good interpersonal skills and a desire to help others. Patience and the ability to handle stressful situations may be needed. You must be efficient and accurate, yet sensitive to the needs of patients. Good manual dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and an aptitude for detailed and precise work are necessary.

Job requirements

  • Dental hygienists are required to complete a college program ranging from one to three years, or other approved program in dental hygiene recognized by the governing board within the province or territory of residence.
  • Dental therapists are required to complete a two- to three- year college diploma or equivalent credentials from an approved dental institution or complete the dental therapy diploma program offered by the First Nations University of Canada in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
  • To become a dental hygienist in Nova Scotia you must complete an accredited education diploma in dental hygiene and be licensed by the College of Dental Hygienists of Nova Scotia.

Other considerations

  • Most dental hygienists work regular office hours. They may work some evenings and weekends.

By the numbers

Quick look

695

employed in 2016

79.3%

employed full-time

2.9%

self employed

95.7%
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4.3%
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42.1

median age

Compared to: All Health

36,515

employed in 2016

75.7%

employed full-time

9.6%

self employed

83.6%
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16.4%
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43.5

median age

Where will I likely work?

56.4%

Halifax

$54,095 median annual income
12.1%

Cape Breton

$52,460 median annual income
11.4%

North Shore

$57,021 median annual income
10.0%

Southern

$53,808 median annual income
10.0%

Annapolis Valley

$45,159 median annual income

Compared to: All NS Occupations

47.0%

Halifax

15.6%

North Shore

12.9%

Annapolis Valley

12.7%

Cape Breton

11.8%

Southern

Top Industries of Employment

96.2%

Health care and social assistance

3.8%

Public administration

What is the age of Employment?

29.0%

25-34

27.0%

45-54

26.0%

35-44

12.0%

55-64

5.0%

15-24

1.0%

65+

Compared to: All Health

24.0%

25-34

23.9%

45-54

21.9%

35-44

18.4%

55-64

7.7%

15-24

Top levels of education

36.0%

Diploma Below Bachelor

$53,367 median annual income
30.9%

Bachelor

$54,899 median annual income
18.0%

College Diploma

$57,995 median annual income
12.9%

Diploma Above Bachelor

$48,188 median annual income
1.4%

Master

N/A

Compared to: All Health

38.4%

College Diploma

$40,033 median annual income
27.1%

Bachelor

$61,668 median annual income
8.7%

Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary, Optometry

$81,191 median annual income
6.8%

High school

$24,829 median annual income
5.1%

Master

$69,296 median annual income

Education & training

Dental Hygienist

College or Trades Program

These programs prepare students to clean teeth and apply preventive materials, provide oral health education and treatment counselling to patients, identify oral pathologies and injuries, and manage dental hygiene practices. They include courses in dental anatomy, microbiology, and pathology, dental hygiene theory and techniques, cleaning equipment operation and maintenance, dental materials, radiology, patient education and counselling, office management, supervised clinical training, and professional standards.

Institutions providing this program

Dalhousie University

Halifax, NS

Employment requirements & contacts

Regulations

Dental Hygienist

Right to Title and Practice: This job is regulated. The job title is protected, and you may not use it without a professional licence. A licence shows that the holder has met provincial requirements and is required to legally do this work.

Regulating body:
College of Dental Hygienists of Nova Scotia
Halifax, NS

Contacts

Canadian Dental Hygienists' Association
Ottawa, ON
Health Care Human Resource Sector Council
Bedford, NS

Additional resources