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Dental Hygienists

History

The first dental hygienists were trained by dentists themselves. However, early in the 20th century, the first school for dental hygiene was organized, and in 1915 the first state legalized the practice of dental hygiene.

Although the profession has existed since the beginning of the 20th century, dental hygienists were not particularly common before recent advances in the field. Discoveries in chemistry and the biomedical sciences have led to the development of dental radiography and improved dental instruments, materials, and treatment techniques. In addition, the discovery that fluoride helps prevent tooth decay has created more work for dentists because fluoride treatments enable many more people to keep their teeth throughout their lives. In recent decades, with greater public awareness of the importance of dental care, more and more companies have begun providing dental insurance to employees.

These developments in the field of dental care have resulted in a greater workload for dentists. As they have taken on more patients and performed more dental services, they have had less time for completing routine cleanings and instructing patients on oral hygiene. Consequently, dental hygienists have become important members of many dentistry practices.

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