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  • Writer's pictureIrene Michelle Iancu

The future of dental hygiene


Irene Iancu, RDH, founder and owner of Toothlife Studio

I proudly share my name with a dental hygiene legend: Irene Newman, the first trained dental hygienist out of the Alfred C. Fones School of Dental Hygiene in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

When you hear that was in 1914 it sounds like such a long time ago, but in reality, 105 years wasn’t that long ago.

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1965 showed more promise for our profession as Jack Orio graduated from the University of New Mexico and became the first male dental hygienist. That year, American Dental Association bylaws were amended to allow equality for male hygienists.

Fast forward to 1985, the year I was born: National Dental Hygiene Week celebrated its inaugural event.

Today in 2019, dental hygienists are practice owners setting up their own clinics, administering local anesthetic and performing restorative procedures, among many other fantastic successes.

I am certain that our profession will continue to thrive, thanks to the trailblazers before us and those among us, and dental hygiene as a profession will continue to climb to amazing heights, which will serve the public on a greater systemic level.

My Nostradamus predictions for the next 50 years in dental hygiene include (but are not limited to):

1. Dental hygienists will be able to prescribe radiographs.

2. Dental hygienists will be able to make patient-specific blood work requisitions.

3. Dental hygienists will legally diagnose periodontal disease independently.

4. Dental hygienists will be able to specialize in more complex specialties, surgical and non-surgical periodontal therapy.

I gather I’ll be a vibrant 84-year-old woman in 2069, enjoying a glass of perfectly aged 1945 Domaine de la Romaneé-Conti Pino Noir with my friend Katrina as we reminisce about this article. I hope to see the aforementioned prognostications to have become a reality.


Irene achieved her B.A. in political science from Florida State University in 2005, when she realized she would be a terrible Lawyer!

Upon graduating with honors from Oxford College in 2007, Irene then followed her curiosity into the various aspects of dental-hygiene practice, working her way through each specialty starting in pedo, perio, ortho and ultimately finding her passion connecting the effects of our systemic health to our oral health.

Today, Irene is a Toronto-based practicing independent dental hygienist and practice owner of Toothlife Studio and founder of Toothlife.

Irene is a clinical and theoretical dental hygiene instructor at Oxford College, quality assurance mentor and peer mentor with the College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario, key opinion leader, international speaker and item writer for the National Dental Hygiene Certification Board, and is enrolled in the Harvard HMX program at Harvard Medical School. You can connect with Irene on social media.


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