- 1907- Irene Newman became the first dental hygienist, trained by her cousin, Dr. Alfred Fones, a dentist in Connecticut.
- 1913- Dr. Alfred Fones established the first dental hygiene school in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Dr. Fones coined the term, “dental hygienist” after “dental nurses” had failed. He believed since they were instructing children how to prevent diseases and instruct on oral hygiene habits, “dental hygienist” fit the description better.
- June 6, 1914- The first graduating class of dental hygiene students.
- 1917- Irene Newman becomes the first “licensed dental hygienist”.
- 1923-ADHA was established with 46 members.
- 1935-The ADHA implemented specific requirements for program acceptance; made it mandatory to have a high school diploma for licensure.
- 1940- to become a licensed hygienist, a 2-year course study program was implemented. Also in 1940, the ADHA adopted the label, “registered dental hygienist, RDH.”
- 1945- Dr. Clayton Gracey developed the Gracey curettes
- 1950’s- The ultrasonic scaler was created/introduced and fully reclining
dental chairs were made.
- 1960- Dr. Esther Wilkins, RDH, DMD, published the first edition, “Clinical Practice of The Dental Hygienist.”
- April 1962- The first national board exam was given.
- 1970’s- The ADHA began implementing continuing education courses and establishing guidelines for these courses.
- 1980’s- The state of Washington became the first to fulfill the duties in the unsupervised practice of dental hygienists in specific settings.
- May 13, 2009- Senate File 2083 was signed by Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty to implement Advanced Dental Therapy into law. Minnesota was the first state to implement dental therapists. ADHP, Advanced Dental Hygiene Practitioner, is the medical version of a nurse practitioner and is midlevel entry. ADHP’s work collaboratively with a dentist but are able to go out to other areas in the communities to provide dental care without the supervision of a dentist.
- 2012- The state of Florida passes the law allowing dental hygienists to administer local anesthesia.
- May 3, 2019- Senate Bill 649 failed for the state of Florida to implement dental therapists. In 2014, Florida had the lowest rate of any state for Medicaid dental participation (Floridians for Dental Access, 2019).
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Abbreviations/Key words associated with the dental hygiene profession are:
ADHP-Advanced Dental Hygiene Practitioner
RDH-Registered Dental Hygienist
EFCDA-Expanded Functions Certified Dental Assistant
CDT-Clinical Dental Technician
Denturist-someone who makes dentures
There are many roles of a dental hygienist and are not just limited to clinical practice. According the American Dental Hygiene Association’s website (2019), “dental hygienists provide clinical, educational and consultative services…”
Hygienists can provide a variety of services whether in an office type setting or business related. The following are a range of areas which a dental hygienist can perform roles: clinician, corporate, public health, researcher, educator, administrator and entrepreneur (ADHA, 2019).
There is controversy regarding dental therapists (ADHP) because the opponents believe there isn’t adequate training and could potentially put patient’s at risk. The state of Florida has tried to pass the law to implement dental therapy but failed. There are currently 4 states and 50 countries allowing the practice of dental therapists. Florida is in great need because of the shortage of dentists in almost every county which leads no dental care or emergency visits. If this law passes, it would allow more people, children and adults, to receive dental care.
Whitening in the mall is legal but has many controversies. The kiosks who offer whitening looks appealing to the consumer because it’s less expensive than purchasing through a dental office, it’s convenient and time efficient. The controversies regarding mall whitening is there aren’t any dental professionals on staff to ensure safe treatment and they’re most likely franchised own with no dental supervision. Whitening can produce tooth or gingival sensitivity, and if not properly used or explained, can lead to further complications.
Cultural competency is important for an individual to have because it allows for knowledge and awareness of other cultures. Possessing competency for different cultures shows respect and patience which has the ability to reduce communication issues.
An ethical issue is when there is a conflicting issue of something right versus wrong and can usually be corrected quickly. An ethical dilemma on the other hand is two or more conflicting problems and one may affect the other in a way in which it can’t be resolved.
7. The educational requirements and legal process necessary to become a dental hygienist are as follows: must be 18 years old; graduated from a dental hygiene school or any school/college accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Dental Association (Florida Board of Dentistry, 2019); can be a graduate of an unaccredited school, but must have 4 years of a postsecondary graduation with a degree comparable to a DMD or DDS; must complete the “National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, ADEX Dental Hygiene Licensing Exam and Florida Laws and Rules Examination” (Florida Board of Dentistry, 2019).
8. The dental profession and environment are constantly changing with education and technology. As the need for dental care increases, the profession and environment does, as well; this is one of the main reasons to pass the laws necessary for dental therapists, especially in areas where there are shortages of dentists, like Florida.
- American Dental Hygiene Association (2019). Professional Roles of the Dental Hygienist.
- Retrieved from https://www.adha.org/resourcesdocs/714112_DHiCW_Roles_Dental_Hygienist.pdf
- Hakes, H., & Hakes, H. (2018, May 12). The History of Dental Hygiene: Development through
the Years. Retrieved from https://www.todaysrdh.com/the-history-of-dental-hygienedevelopment-through-the-years/.
- Florida Board of Dentistry (2019). Dental Hygienist. Retrieved from
- https://floridasdentistry.gov/licensing/dental-hygienist/Floridians for Dental Access (2019). Retrieved from
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