To make sure you’re
receiving care from
a registered dental
hygienist, look for the
You’ll find it on the
annual practice permits
posted in their workplace.
Caring for more than your teeth
•;Early detection of cancer can
greatly increase your chances of
•;Annual oral cancer screening and
a head and neck examination by
an oral health professional are
important steps in identifying and
treating oral, head and neck cancers.
•;In between oral health visits, watch
for any lumps or bumps inside
your mouth, a sore throat with
difficulty swallowing, and check
your lips, tongue and inner cheeks
for redness, swelling or white
patches that do not heal. On your
face, watch for lumps, bumps and
changes in your skin.
•;Oral cancer can be prevented.
You can reduce your risk by
quitting smoking or use of other
tobacco products; reducing your
consumption of alcohol; using
a condom if you are sexually
active (to reduce the risk of HPV
Often known for their work
in dental offices or community
health settings, where they provide
a variety of oral health services,
registered dental hygienists can
also provide services in their own
independent practices. They can
even make house calls.
“Families are so grateful for this
kind of service. It prevents oral
diseases and opens up accessibility,
especially for those with disabilities
and chronic conditions,” says
Corinne Strohman, a registered
dental hygienist who owns and
operates a mobile dental hygiene
practice in Calgary.
Dental hygienists prescribe
and take x-rays, which help to
determinine required next steps.
Providing local anesthetic is another
part of a dental hygienist’s practice.
Vickie McKinnon, the manager
AHS teams of dental hygienists
and dental assistants visit schools
and vulnerable communities, and
work closely with other health
professionals to give Albertans
knowledge and access to the best
in oral health care.
“We want to make Albertans as
healthy as possible,” McKinnon
says. “We are working to help
people help themselves.
of Oral Health for Alberta Health
Services (AHS), says registered
dental hygienists are a key part
of her department’s provincewide
awareness and prevention efforts.
We make house calls and more
Recently, Linda Sinclair
realized the importance of her regular
oral check-ups with her registered
dental hygienist, Jane Harris. Harris
noticed a lesion on Linda’s face and
advised her to seek medical attention.
“This was the first time a health-care
professional had given me an idea
of how it could be treated and how
quickly, if it was in fact malignant,”
says Sinclair. “I was lucky I had the
work done when I did,” she notes. Her
lesion was cancerous.
Harris says prevention and oral
screening are a regular part of
her profession’s care. “Part of my
education is that if something looks
suspicious, I advise patients to get it
looked at,” says Harris, who, like all
dental hygienists, has had specific
education regarding cancer screening.
She adds: “Part of what a registered
dental hygienist does is gives you
confidence in your own care. We are
interested in your overall health and
well-being.” Registered dental hygienist Jane Harris
Registered dental hygienist
with patient Mary Hallmark