From left: UT School of Dentistry dental hygiene faculty members Joanna Allaire, RDH; Victoria Patrounova, RDH; Darla McKitrick, RDH; and Harold Henson, RDH, were presenters at the American Dental Hygienists’ Association annual session in Boston.
The dental hygiene profession celebrated its 100th anniversary in June, and faculty members from The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston were on hand at the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) annual session in Boston to mark the milestone. Four UTSD faculty members gave presentations at the gathering, themed “100 Years of Dental Hygiene: Proud Past, Unlimited Future.”
Associate Professors Harold Henson, RDH, MEd, and Darla McKitrick, RDH, MS, presented their workshop on integrating clinical simulation into the dental hygiene curriculum to a sold-out room with 140 participants.
Victoria Patrounova, RDH, MHA, clinical assistant professor, gave a presentation titled, “Troubling Tobacco Trends: From Hookah to Snus,” which also proved popular, drawing 198 attendees.
Also at the conference, Joanna Allaire, RDH, MDH, assistant professor, presented a project poster on “Assessing the Critical Thinking Skills of Senior Dental Hygiene Students Utilizing Virtual Patient Simulation.” Dental hygiene students Holly Carraway, Jennifer Lindesmith and Farnaz Safavi presented their table clinic, “Ozone Therapy and Its Effect on Oral Microflora.”
The convention featured some star power, with speeches by actress Geena Davis and public health advocate Erin Brockovich. The U.S. Senate even passed a resolution commemorating the occasion.
The tributes underscore the long way dental hygiene has come since humble beginnings in 1913 in Bridgeport, Conn., where Alfred Fones, DDS, started the first course for “prophylactic assistants.” His assistant became the first licensed dental hygienist in 1917.
Dental hygiene at UTSD got its start in 1955 with admission of the first class of 21 students. Starting in 2002, the school began offering bachelor’s degrees in dental hygiene, as well as certificates.
The profession has changed substantially from the early days when it was primarily women in nurse’s caps and uniforms, said UTSD Dental Hygiene Program Director Jayne McWherter, RDH, MEd.
McWherter, a 1975 graduate of UTSD, wore the white cap in school, but her class was among the first class to change from skirts to pants. The changing attire reflected other changes in the profession as well. More men are now becoming dental hygienists, as are more minorities.
“The increase in diversity has been amazing,” McWherter said. “More people are aware of dental hygiene as a great health profession so, our applicant pool is much richer and more diverse.”