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A look at the

dental hygiene
profession
By Diana Macri, RDH
(information adapted from the
ADHA website)

1913

95%

of hygienists are female,


while only 5% are male.

1949

Dr. Civilion Fones established the first dental hygiene education program in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
His vision of dental hygiene and dental hygiene education:
encouraging that the role of the dental hygienist include
preventive education for all patients, young and old,
children and mothers, as well as nutritional counseling. He
believed very strongly in the prevention of oral disease.

Timeline:

1998

ADHA: Registered
Dental Hygienist
becomes official
credential of the
profession

1984

1923

1906
Dr. Alfred Civilion Fones created
the dental hygiene profession. He
taught his cousin, Irene Newman, how
to remove plaque, stain, and calculus
from teeth through scaling and polishing techniques

1917

Irene
Newman
becomes the
first licensed
dental
hygienist.

California
becomes the first
state to allow
hygienists to
own their own
practices

Washington
becomes the first
state to allow
unsupervised
practice

1993
The ADHA
is organized
(it wont be
incorporated
until 1927).

1947

Minimum
educational
requirements for
dental hygienists are
established.

1971

Washington becomes
the first state to allow
local anesthesia administration by dental
hygienists

2011

National Center for


Dental Hygiene Research
is established

The first class of advanced dental


therapists, a profession that expands
on that of dental hygiene, graduates in
Minnesota.

Educational Requirements:
A dental hygiene education requires 84 credit
hours on average for an associate degree, or
118 credit hours for a baccalaureate degree.
However, before a student is admitted into a
dental hygiene program, they must complete
approximately 40 credit hours of prerequisite
college courses in chemistry, biology, speech,
sociology, English, and math.

prerequisite college courses


associate programs

As part of
dental hygiene
services, dental
hygienists:

Perform
oral health care
assessments
that include
the review of
patients health
Treat
and prevent
oral diseases

Take
patients history,
chart, screen
for oral cancer,
and evaluate
gum health and
disease

Expose,
process, and
interpret
dental
radiographs
(X-rays)

Administer
local anesthetic
and nitrous oxide
analgesia

Remove
plaque and
calculus from
above and below
the gum line
usingdental
instruments

What
Do Dental
Hygienists
Do?

baccalaureate

Apply
cavitypreventive
agents such as
fluorides and
sealants to the
teeth

Counsel
patients about
plaque control
and developing
individualized
at-home
oralhygiene
programs

Each state has its own specific


regulations and the range of
services performed by dental
hygienists varies from one
state to another.

Educate
patients on proper
oral hygiene
techniques to
maintain healthy
teeth andgums
Counsel
patients on the
importance of
good nutrition
for maintaining
optimal oral health
Administer
smoking cessation
programs

associate
programs

baccalaureate

Admission to a program is typically highly


competitive. During the 2011-12 school
year, associate programs reported a mean
of 81 applicants with 31 admissions, while
baccalaureate programs reported amean of
76 applicants with 28 admissions.
Graduates must successfully complete
the written National Board Dental Hygiene
Examination (approximately 350 questions).
Graduates must also successfully complete a
regional or state clinical board examination,
which entails a live patient exam and 100
computerized multiple-choice,simulated
patientquestions.