Dental Hygiene Began Here

The concept of professional dental hygiene care was developed in the early part of the twentieth century. The term “dental hygiene” itself is attributed to Dr. Alfred Civilion Fones, a major creative force in the dental hygiene movement, and the founder of the Fones School of Dental Hygiene at the University of Bridgeport.

The first dental hygiene school in the world, the Fones School proudly bears his name.

Dr. Alfred Civilion Fones, the father of dental hygiene, was a practicing dentist and Bridgeport Native recognizing the importance of the routine removal of stains and deposits from the teeth. He trained his chairside assistant, Irene Newman, to perform prophylactic procedures on their patients. The results of the project were decidedly positive; patients had less decay and healthier gums, Fones wanted to demonstrate this success to others in the dental community and in 1913 opened the first dental hygiene school in the world.

The school graduated three classes of women, many of whom later were employed by the Bridgeport Public Schools. In 1916 Fones closed the school to allow himself the time to travel extensively throughout New England and beyond, lecturing to dental groups and presenting data to prove of his theory and oral hygiene. Many schools were established due to his efforts. In 1949 thirty three years after the first school closed, Fones School of Dental Hygiene was re-opened at the University of Bridgeport as a result of efforts of the CT Dental Association The UB Program has achieved National and Local recognition and respect of the dental profession and continues to contribute multiple benefits to those it serves. In 2013 the profession of dental hygiene celebrated its 100th Anniversary…. It has been a remarkable journey.

Janet Carroll Memoli, RDH, MS and Marcia Lorentzen, RDH, Ed.D.

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