A Brief History of Dental Hygiene

Did you know that as early as 350 BC, people were using toothpaste? Or that the chewstick, the predecessor to the toothbrush, was used by the ancient Assyrians and Egyptians? Modern dental hygiene has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Here’s a timeline of how it has changed.

  • 1906, Dr. Fones trained his assistant, Irene Newman, to provide preventive dental cleanings to his patients, and she became the world’s first dental hygienist. All of the patients who received the cleanings had healthier teeth and gums.
  • 1913, the Fones School of Dental Hygiene opened in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Three classes of women graduated from the original school, many of which worked for the Bridgeport Public Schools. In 1916, Fones closed the school to travel through New England and beyond, presenting his findings on oral hygiene. In 1949, the Fones School of Dental Hygiene was re-opened at the University of Bridgeport
  • 1923, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association was founded, and by 1926, where were registered hygienists in 30 states. In 1952, all 50 states began licensing dental hygienists, and today,the ADHA represents more than 185,000 registered dental hygienists across the country.
  • 1930, the first study on the benefits of chewing was conducted through a fellowship with Northwestern University and funded by Wrigley corporation.
  • 1931, the American Dental Association approves ARM & Hammer Baking Soda as safe and effective as a dentifrice, making it the first “toothpaste” to carry the ADA seal.
  • 1938, the first nylon toothbrush goes on the market as the first toothbrush made with synthetic bristles.
  • 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan, becomes the first city in the world to fluoridate its drinking water. Fluoridation became an official policy of the U.S. Public Health Service by 1951.
  • 1957,, DENTSPLY created the first standalone dental ultrasonic scaler. making routine scaling of teeth much more efficient for clinicians.
  • 1959, Dr. Esther M. Wilkins’ first edition textbook of the Clinical Practice of the Dental Hygienist is published.
  • 1985, The ADHA Institute for Oral Health is organized and established. Also, the week of September 15-21 was the first National Dental Hygiene Week.
  • 1989, Dr. George’s Dental White was one of the first commercial home teeth-bleaching products to go on the market
  • 1993, The National Center for Dental Hygiene Research was established through a 3-year grant from the Bureau of Health Professions (BHP), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • 2000, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services publishes Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General. The report alerts Americans to the full meaning of oral health and its importance to general health.
  • 2006 100 Years of Dental Hygiene practice is celebrated!

You can join the celebration by visiting your dentist twice a year for cleanings and brushing and flossing daily!