Regulatory Process in Canada
In order to practise in Canada, dental hygienists must be registered with the appropriate provincial or territorial dental hygiene regulatory authority. To register after graduation from a dental hygiene program, contact your provincial or territorial
regulatory authority for the process you need to follow. The requirements and the order in which they must be met may vary depending on the province or territory and whether you have graduated from an accredited program or a non-accredited program.
This section is a generalized look at the licensing process in Canada; each province is responsible for, and is the best resource for, information about regulation in their province.
Accredited vs. Non-Accredited Programs
See CDHA's list of dental hygiene degree, diploma, and non-accredited programs.
Dental hygiene programs seeking accreditation must be assessed by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada (CDAC). The accreditation process assesses the program's curriculum and outcomes, physical facilities, faculty complement, and the preparation
of students for dental hygiene practice in accordance with CDAC's national accreditation requirements. The accreditation process for new programs generally takes about twelve months to complete.
Because of the nature of the accreditation process, new programs will admit students and begin instruction before applying for accreditation. This is because the program must have students and be running before the assessment by the CDAC can begin.
New programs may—but are not required to—apply for accreditation before admitting students. However, it is only when students are enrolled in the final year of the program that CDAC will conduct an accreditation site visit to review the new program.
Interested in the accreditation process for dental hygiene programs and schools? Check out "Accreditation Requirements for Dental Hygiene Programs,"
available on the CDA website
The Regulatory Process for Graduates of Non-Accredited Dental Hygiene Programs
Graduates of non-accredited programs may become licensed and registered dental hygienists. First, the graduate must apply to the National Dental Hygiene Certification Board for academic evaluation to determine the
graduate’s eligibility to write the National Dental Hygiene Certification Exam (NDHCE). While successful completion of the NDHCE is not required by all provincial and territorial dental hygiene regulatory authorities in order to apply for licensure
and registration, it is recommended. Having the NDHCE certificate will increase mobility for the dental hygienist, making relocation to another province or territory much easier. The process after successful completion of the NDHCE varies depending
on the province and the situation. There are three possibilities:
- Some provinces require the successful completion of a practical exam.
- Some provinces conduct an individual assessment based on the dental hygiene program the graduate has completed, and require a clinical exam only if the program is found to be unsatisfactory.
- In some provinces, graduates of non-accredited dental hygiene programs may not be eligible to apply for licensure and registration, with the exception of dental hygienists who have been practising in another province or territory and are eligible
for registration under the labour mobility agreement. This is currently an evolving issue in dental hygiene. The end goal is for all dental hygiene regulatory authorities to have mechanisms for assessing graduates of non-accredited programs. Contacting
your regulatory authority for the most recent information is therefore your best option.
Students and graduates of a non-accredited dental hygiene program should contact the dental hygiene regulatory authority in the province they wish to practise in, as the requirements for initial licensure and registration are determined by the regulatory
authority (see contact information).
Moving Between Provinces
- Notify CDHA of your change of address by updating your profile. At the top of this page, login with your username and password, then click "My Profile" at the top of the screen. You may also phone CDHA at 1-800-267-5235 or 613-224-5515.
- Notify the regulatory authority of the province where you are currently registered, and contact the regulatory authority of your province of destination to initiate regulation in that province. (See contact information for the provincial regulatory
- You must be regulated by your new province's dental hygiene regulatory authority in order to practise dental hygiene in that province.
- You can be regulated in more than one province. If you will be practising dental hygiene in more than one province, you must hold full registration in all the provinces in which you intend to practise, but most provincial regulatory authorities
offer non-practising registration categories for those who will not be practising dental hygiene in that province that year.
- Check with your provincial regulatory authority for more details on regulation in your province.
- You will remain a member of your former province's dental hygienists' association until the beginning of the new membership year, as provincial membership follows the member. You may purchase a membership in your new province's dental hygienists'
association and hold two provincial memberships for the duration of that membership year, but membership in your new province's association is not mandatory, with the exception of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia.
These four provinces have mandatory provincial membership, which means that you will have to become a member of the provincial association in order to practise.
- If you choose, you may retain membership in both provincial associations in following years, but you must pay the membership fees for both associations.