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Dental hygiene turns 100

100 years of dental hygiene

Dental hygiene students gather for a photo during the college's Jan. 28 reception.

Media Resources/Steven Doll

What began a century ago as a fledgling class in southwestern Connecticut has since grown into a dynamic profession.

On Jan. 17, approximately 100 dental hygienists from across Dallas and the Southwest took pause to celebrate the profession during a reception at Omni Dallas Hotel’s West End Lounge. The occasion wasn’t just limited to students, alumni or faculty of Caruth School of Dental Hygiene. It was scheduled during the 2013 Southwest Dental Conference in Dallas so dental hygienists from across the country could attend.

Less than two weeks later, the celebration continued with a Jan. 28 reception for Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry students, faculty and staff, complete with cake and refreshments.

As dental hygiene celebrates 100 years in the U.S., here’s a closer look at how the profession got its start and blossomed into what it is today.

Dental hygiene through the years

1913 Dr. Alfred C. Fones, a dentist, organizes the first formal class for dental hygienists in Bridgeport, Conn.
September 1923 The newly formed American Dental Hygienists’ Association holds its first annual meeting in Cleveland.
1951 Texas State Legislature approves bill legalizing dental hygiene as a profession.
September 1955

The newly opened Caruth School of Dental Hygiene welcomes its first class of 32 female students. It was the first of its kind in the Southwest and one of only 20 nationwide at the time.

1958 The Beta chapter of Sigma Phi Alpha is formed at Caruth. The national dental hygiene honor society accepts 10 percent of each year’s graduating class based on scholarship, character and potential for future growth.
1997 Caruth School of Dental Hygiene begins offering its first master’s degree courses.
To date, it is one of just 18 graduate-level dental hygiene education programs in the country.
2013 Today the profession boasts more than 150,000 licensed dental hygienists, 300 entry-level and 60 degree-completion programs nationwide.


100 years of dental hygiene

Photo courtesy Dr. Janice DeWald