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Dental hygienists' workforce is shifting, growing

Mary Otto
Mary Otto

In June dental hygienists celebrated the 100th anniversary of their profession.

It was in 1913 that a Bridgeport, Conn., dentist, Dr. Alfred Fones, opened the world’s first dental hygiene school. The first dental hygienist was Fones’ cousin and chairside assistant Irene Newman.

Today, more than  181,000 dental hygienists are at work in the United States,  according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The work of these dental auxiliaries has typically centered upon offering preventive services such as cleaning teeth, applying dental sealants and fluoride treatments, screening for oral cancer and offering oral health education. 

But much about this female-dominated profession has been changing in recent years.

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