October is National Dental Hygiene Month—when the emphasis is on good oral health and the important work of our amazing dental hygienists.
What Do Dental Hygienists Do?
You interact with a dental hygienist each time you visit our office for routine cleanings, but do you really know what they do? Dental hygienists are crucial in educating patients on the importance of proper dental care.
When patients first come back to the chair, our hygienists review dental and health histories with them. This is one way that they screen patients for potential dental concerns. Then, the hygienists complete the initial cleaning, followed by X-rays if necessary.
When the dentist arrives, the hygienists will record notes, such as any treatment performed by the dentist, into the patient’s chart for future reference.
Most importantly, they’ll make sure each patient leaves the office with a clean, healthy smile.
The Evolution of the Profession
According to RDH Magazine, dental hygienists were called “dental nurses” back in the 1880s. However, in 1906, a dentist decided he didn’t like that term for his assistant, who he was training to scale and polish teeth. So, he decided “dental hygienist” was more appropriate.
In 1910, the Ohio College of Dentistry began a formal program for dental nurses. However, “the dental community objected so strongly that graduates were not allowed to practice,” as reported on the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry’s Timeline of Dental Hygiene.
Then, in 1913, the Fones School of Dental Hygiene opened in Bridgeport, Conn., according to the timeline. Five years later, Connecticut became the first state to pass a dental hygienist licensure law.
Soon after, the American Dental Hygienist Association (ADHA) was founded in 1923. Here are some other interesting tidbits on the profession from the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry:
- 1964: The ADHA deleted the word “female” from its bylaws
- 1965: The first male dental hygienist graduated from the University of New Mexico
- 1970: Dental hygienists were finally allowed to wear pants as part of their uniform
- 1980s: Dental hygienists stopped wearing caps as part of their uniform
Recognizing Our Dental Hygienists
Our dental hygienists, Gayle, Jaime and Lou, use their knowledge and personable nature to make our patients feel comfortable and cared for.
Jaime has been a hygienist for 18 years. She’s known around the office for her ability to build connections with our patients.
“I like to think that I have a lot of compassion and empathy for others,” she said. Learn more about Jaime and her approach to patient care.
Gayle originally wanted to be a lawyer. Fortunately for us, “it just didn’t feel like me,” she said.
One of the things she enjoys about being a hygienist is talking to so many different people every day. And we love talking to her. Get the scoop on what keeps Gayle busy outside of work.
Lou is known for her skills in helping those who haven’t been to a dentist in a while.
“We get a lot of people who have had bad experiences, and making them comfortable is critical because if you can’t, it’s very hard to give them the best care that they need and deserve,” she said.
Learn more about Lou, how she chose her career and some of her favorite pastimes.
No matter which of our dental hygienists you visit in our office, you’ll be in good hands!
Celebrate With Us
If you visit our office this month, please extend a Happy National Dental Hygiene Month to all of our hygienists! To schedule your next visit, complete our contact form or call our office at 815-886-0875.