The American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) recently celebrated 100 years of the dental hygiene profession during its 90th annual convention at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. Clayton State University took part in the celebration of those 100 years of dental hygiene with an inaugural ADHA/Clayton State Dental Hygiene Alumni Reception at the Sheraton Hotel.
According to Dr. Gail Barnes, Clayton State Dental Hygiene Department chair, the event was a success with more than 25 alumni and friends of the Clayton State Department of Dental Hygiene attending from diverse locations such as Boston, Tiverton, R.I., Chicago, Nashville, Tenn., Washington, D.C., Dallas, New York and, of course, south metro Atlanta.
During the ADHA conference, Barnes was a moderator for the Lunch and Learn topic: “Everybody Needs One: A Mentor.” Participants came from across the United States, and their objectives for participation were equally varied. Some wanted to know how to find a mentor. However, there were a few dental hygienists who wanted ideas on how to start a mentoring program within their local dental hygiene association in an effort to increase association membership; specifically for the recent dental hygiene program graduates.
Barnes also notes that the 2013 conference remembered and honored the profession’s visionaries; Alfred C. Fones, DDS, and Irene Newman. In the 1890’s Fones was perfecting his techniques for disease prevention: tooth scaling, polishing and patient education. While in Bridgeport, Conn. in 1906 he trained his dental assistant and cousin, Irene, to clean teeth. Fones is considered the “Father of Dental Hygiene” and Newman the first dental hygienist. A few years later, in 1913, Fones’ school for dental hygiene was a three-year program. His graduates were the first to provide dental care to WWI soldiers.
“As we celebrate 100 years of the dental hygiene profession, we greatly appreciate our matriarch, Esther M. Wilkins, BS, RDH, DMD, who has greatly impacted the profession through her scholarship, leadership and support,” adds Barnes.
Wilkins is the author of the textbook, “Clinical Practice of the Dental Hygienist.” Dental hygiene educators consider it to be the “Dental Hygiene Bible.” The majority of the 335 Dental Hygiene programs nationally incorporate her textbook into their curriculum. Wilkins lives in Boston and is currently working on the 12th edition of her textbook.
“While researching history facts on the dental hygiene profession I was stuck by one quote,” says Barnes. “`The members of any profession must know more than just the technical and scientific facts that make them expert and skillful in their clinical work. They must be aware of the many problems that affect the growth and development of their profession.’ This is from Shailer’s 1972 `Clinical Dental Hygiene textbook.’
“As dental hygienists continue to keep the improvement of the public’s oral health as their ultimate goal, growth of the dental hygiene profession will be the outcome.”