Completing my first year in my career as a Registered Dental Hygienist I, as well as well as all the other well earned Dental Hygienists, get to celebrate the 100th anniversary of our profession. Dental Hygiene started right here in New England, back in 1913 by Dr. Alfred Fones.
Dr. Fones was practicing dentistry when he started to notice many of his patients would lose their teeth due to dental caries (cavities) or periodontal disease (gum disease). He thought that if he could prevent these diseases from occurring, he could save or prevent tooth loss. Dr. Fones realized that if he could remove plaque, calculus and sugar from the teeth and gums, this would prevent disease. He started on his mission and in 1906 he trained the first Dental Hygienist in the world, Irene Newman. Irene was trained to provide preventative dental cleanings. The results of these dental cleanings were so successful that in 1913, Dr. Fones opened the first ever Dental Hygiene school called Fones School of Dental Hygiene in Bridgeport, CT. Since then, dental prevention had begun. The Encyclopedia Brittanica states “Dental Hygiene was the most important development of the dental arts appearing in 1911-1922.”
Since 1913, Dental Hygiene has come a long way, but what remains the same is prevention. If we Dental Hygienists can educate our patients to understand the importance or good oral health and hygiene habits, then we have done our job. I am proud to be a part of the 100th anniversary celebration of dental hygiene and our successful profession.
Written by: Andrea Geoffrey-White, RDH