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QCC Dental Hygiene Clinic Provides Care for Worcester Kids

June, 2017
  • QCC dental students
  • QCC dental students

Quinsigamond Community College’s (QCC) KidSeal Program is celebrating 19 years of service to underserved, elementary school-aged children from Worcester County.

The KidSeal Program was established in 1999 by Professor Emeritus Joyce Cooney, RDH, B.S., M.Ed. The program is part of the larger Central Massachusetts Oral Health Initiative, which serves more than 40 Worcester elementary schools.

For many of these children, their experience at QCC Dental Hygiene Clinic is the only time they ever receive dental services. 

“The beauty of the KidSeal Program, working collaboratively with the dental hygiene and dental assisting students, is that it is a win-win for all involved,” said Jane E. Gauthier, M.Ed., of the Dental Hygiene Department at Quinsigamond Community College. “Dental services are provided to the most vulnerable population, namely the children in Worcester County who otherwise would not have access to care. This directly aligns with the mission of the Massachusetts Office of Oral Health, to decrease the burden of oral disease. Additionally, QCC students are enriching their education while supporting their community and making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than themselves.” 

The KidSeal Program provides free dental care, including dental screenings, prophylaxis, radiographs, oral health education and fluoride varnish, to elementary school-aged children at 10 schools in the greater Worcester area.

In 2016, more than 650 elementary school students received caries risk screenings, fluoride varnish applications and oral health education. Over 300 children received 1,033 sealants from all KidSeal clinics combined. In spring 2017, an additional 618 students were screened for caries risk. The data is being collected to demonstrate the serious need for dental services in Worcester County when vying for financial resources to address this need and to advocate for the creation of the mid-level dental practitioner. 

The city of Worcester is one of the nearly 5,000 areas that has been designated by the Department of Health and Human Services as a Dental Health Professional Shortage Area. To help address the area’s service shortage, the KidSeal Program is three-pronged:

Segment I: Dental Hygiene Clinic
In May and January, when the college is not in session, the KidSeal Program uses the QCC Dental Hygiene Clinic to provide services to underserved children from 10 of the inner-city elementary schools in Worcester. The children are screened to determine their oral health needs, which are reported back to school nurses and, subsequently, the children’s parents. Emergency and restorative dental care is provided by volunteer dentists from the community. 

Segment II: Service Learning Component
The KidSeal Program also has a fluoride varnish program that is part of the QCC dental hygiene curriculum. As part of service learning, QCC dental hygiene students visit 10 different schools in Worcester County and provide oral health screenings, oral health education and fluoride varnish applications to hundreds of children.

Segment III: Clinical Requirements
During the academic school year, KidSeal Program sealant clinics are held for two days in November and two days in April in the QCC Dental Hygiene Clinic.The children are treated by the sophomore dental hygiene students, as part of their clinical requirements. The dental assisting students also attend these clinic sessions to help keep the flow of care moving at a steady pace, as well as to gain valuable experience.  

The June 2017 issue of the American Dental Educational Association, Bulletin of Dental Education, featured an article on the KidSeal program. The article can be viewed at http://www.adea.org/BDEBlog.aspx?id=37036&blogid=27619&_zs=MXGhc1&_zl=0rbw3