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SBDHA History

The Santa Barbara Dental Hygienists' Association (SBDHA) is part of our tripartite association. Which means our component association is part of a three level association, the local component (Santa Barbara, SBDHA), the state component (California, CDHA) and the national component (American Dental Hygienists' Association, ADHA).

ADHA was founded in 1923, the beginning of the Dental Hygienists' Association was only on the State level, first established in 1914 in Connecticut formed by 19 charter members and 9 associate members. Connecticut was the first state to license Dental Hygienists and Irene Newman was the first to receiver her license in July of 1917. As Massachusetts, New York, and other states licensed their Dental Hygienists, they also formed associations following Connecticut's example. California Dental Hygienists took the first steps to create a national association; they prepared the resolution and presented it to the American Dental Association. The dentists listened to our CDHA president, Elma Platt's presentation and immediately gave their approval. With this support, the California Dental Hygienists' sent copies of a draft constitution and bylaws to all known Dental Hygiene Associations and alumni "with well known merits and high standards" asking for their comments and inviting them to join the new National Association, ADHA. The first meeting took place that September in Cleveland, Ohio, 46 Dental Hygienists representing various states met together. Mrs. Winifred Hart Bridgeport was voted temporary chair and Miss Elma Platt, secretary. The constitution and bylaws were discussed and accepted in principle so officers could be elected and other business transacted.

By 1938, 32 states had licensed Dental Hygienists, 17 states still did not permit Dental Hygienists to practice. By 1954, Dental Hygiene licensure was available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Santa Barbara, in the late 50's had only 3 licensed Dental Hygienists practicing. By the mid 60's there were about 17, including Kay Graham, Donna Abby, Fern Grimm, May Nob and Marla Hemmingway. Around 1966 these hygienists began organizing our component by arranging a fundraiser. They asked our local Dentists for any scrap amalgam, which they collected and sold to recyclers for the seed money to start SBDHA. As more licensed hygienists came to Santa Barbara the component membership continued to grow. In the 70's they used their resources to make visits to the schools in our area, teaching children about their dental health. Throughout the 80's and 90's our component members continued these services, usually during Children's Dental Health Month in February and National Dental Hygiene Month in October with volunteer work at Carrillo Dental Clinic, and several dental clinics throughout the county for underprivileged children. These continue to be a part of SBDHA events, along with a favorite function of visiting Farmer's Market for a toothbrush give away and dental education for the general Santa Barbara community.

Our component, SBDHA continues to increase membership through political awareness and mentorship.