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Becoming a Dental Hygienist

The University of Alberta Dental Hygiene program is the Council-approved program in Alberta, however, the program is quite competitive and there are other options. Under section 5 of the Regulation, the College compares the qualifications and competencies required to graduate from other programs to those required to graduate from the U of A program to determine if the other programs are substantially equivalent to the U of A program. This is done through a program review. The results of a program review apply to cohorts that graduate within the 3 years after the graduation date of the program reviewed.

For example, if the College reviewed a program for a cohort that graduated in May 2019, and found the program to be substantially equivalent, cohorts that graduate between May 2019 and April 2022, would be eligible to apply directly to the College for registration. An application from an individual who graduated from that program after April 2022, would trigger a new program review.

While the College cannot endorse a specific program, we can provide some guidance. Some things to consider when researching schools:

  • The school must be either CDAC or CODA accredited.  
  • Schools can only teach to the scope of practice of the jurisdiction they are in. Scopes of practice vary across jurisdictions and what may be allowed or expected in one may not be in another.
  • The outcome of a program review is not guaranteed based on the previous review. The substantial equivalency of a program may change before an individual graduates, depending on when the last review was completed and how long the program is.
  • If a school is determined to NOT be substantially equivalent to the U of A program, graduates will be required to successfully complete the CPEDH before registering in Alberta.
    • A second option in this case would be to register in another Canadian jurisdiction and then apply for registration in Alberta under the Canada Free Trade Agreement (CFTA).
    • There are financial and time considerations related to either option that should be factored into a decision.

Canadian Performance Examination in Dental Hygiene (CPEDH)

Applying for Registration

A notarized document is a copy of a document that has been verified as a true copy of the original. When you take an original document to a Notary Public, they sign, stamp, and place their seal on a copy (either a copy that they make or that you bring them), attesting and certifying that it is a true copy of the original. Unless they are present to witness the execution of a document, they do not notarize an original.

Notarized copies that are received by the College will not be returned because they are copies and applicants should keep their original documents. The College reviews the information on the document as well as the signature and seal of the Notary Public, meaning an electronic copy of a notarized document is not acceptable.

Some examples of a Notary Public are a lawyer, judge, MLA, or student-at-law. Commissioners of Oath cannot notarize documents.

The Regulation identifies “restricted activities” that dental hygienists are authorized to practice. As these restricted activities involve a significant degree of risk to the public, they can only be performed by individuals with specific competencies.

Registered dental hygienists who wish to incorporate advanced restricted activities into their practice must first successfully complete Council-approved advanced education and be officially authorized by the College to practice the restricted activity.

The following is a list of Advanced Restricted Activities that require authorization to practice:

  • Prescribing and administering local anaesthesia by injection
  • Prescribing and administering nitrous oxide/oxygen conscious sedation
  • Performing restorative procedures of a permanent nature in collaboration with a dentist
  • Performing orthodontic procedures in collaboration with a dentist
  • Prescribing the Schedule 1 Drugs listed in the Dental Hygienists Profession Regulation

You do not need to have authorization to perform an advanced restricted activity to be a registered dental hygienist. However, you must have authorization from the College prior to performing any advanced restricted activity.

Advanced Restricted Activities

When You Are a Registrant

Under section 36(5) of the HPA, registered dental hygienists must:

(a) display their practice permit where they provide professional services, OR

(b) make their practice permit available for inspection upon request.

Registrants must have a current copy of their practice permit to meet these requirements. The College does not send printed copies of Practice Permits to registrants. Practice Permits can be downloaded from the Registrant Portal.

The ACDH Permit Year is from November 1 to October 31 every year. A new registrant's Practice Permit is valid from the date their application has been approved until October 31. Subsequent Practice Permits are valid from November 1 to October 31.

Dental hygienists are required to apply for a renewed practice permit through ACDH’s renewal process prior to October 31st every year, regardless of when an application was approved.

For example, a registrant whose application was approved on October 1st would still need to apply for renewal prior to October 31st of the same year.

Registrants who do not have a complete and approved Renewal application by October 31 are not able to practice dental hygiene until they have their complete application approved by the College. Practicing dental hygiene in Alberta without a valid practice permit is considered unprofessional conduct and may result in misconduct fine.


Although there is no way to guarantee that you will never have a complaint filed against you, the best way to minimize your risk is to ensure that you are using the highest possible standards of practice at all times. This includes meeting or exceeding practice standards and guidelines, following all applicable treatment protocols, following the Code of Ethics and using the highest standards of client care.

Additionally, one of the most important elements in your relationship with your clients is effective communication. Listen carefully so you understand what your clients hope to gain from their treatment. Ensure your clients understand their treatment plan, including the treatment you are proposing, what results can be reasonably expected, potential risks or complications, and the fees that will be charged.

If a client raises a concern, deal with it immediately. A formal complaint may be avoided if the client feels that his or her concern has been dealt with respectfully and honestly. In some cases, however, a formal complaint may still result, so it is prudent to keep careful notes of any concerns that are raised.

Complaints Process