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QCC’s Dental Hygiene Program Celebrates National Dental Hygiene Month

Contact: Karen Hutner
Office of Institutional Communications
khutner [at] qcc.mass.edu
 

Release Date: 
10/5/2021

WORCESTER, MA— October 4, 2021— October is National Dental Hygiene Month, an annual reminder to everyone to practice good dental habits.

At Quinsigamond Community College, the dental hygiene students and faculty have been working together during these extraordinary times to promote good oral health to the local community. These students are part of the College’s Dental Hygiene Associate Degree Program that prepares them to enter the profession of dental hygiene by learning and practicing clinical skills in QCC’s Dental Hygiene Clinic. 

The Dental Hygiene Clinic offers hands-on learning for both dental hygiene and dental assistant students. The state-of-the-art training facility provides the opportunity for students to work directly with patients, who come from Worcester and the surrounding communities for affordable dental hygiene care. Students also work with the KidSeal Program to provide needed oral health services to children in the Worcester Public School system. The children are bussed to the clinic to receive free cleanings, fluoride and sealants, as well as oral health education from QCC’s Dental Hygiene students.

“My experience here at Quinsigamond Community College has been nothing short of astounding. Over the past five years, I have obtained my Associate Degree in General Studies, as well as a license in dental assisting. While in the dental assisting program, I noticed the dental hygiene students practicing in the clinic," said Dental Hygiene student Jade Chaves. "I assisted the hygiene students for just one day, and instantly developed a passion for the field. Here I am two years later, a senior in the dental hygiene program. The program is such an incredible one. The faculty are experienced and knowledgeable. From day one, the faculty has encouraged us to expand our horizons and use critical thinking to gain the most from each and every experience.”

There is a low student to faculty ratio in the clinic, as well as faculty-monitored open lab sessions for students to practice clinical skills, as well as radiology skills. 

“This allows the students more time on task to learn difficult fine motor skills associated with the profession,” said Professor Jane Gauthier, program coordinator for Dental Hygiene Education.

Safety is first and foremost a priority and there are currently 30 students in the program, as opposed to the typical 48, in order to maintain social distancing. Students wear high-level protection masks, face-shields, gowns over the scrubs, head coverings and shoe covering while treating patients in the clinic.

“COVID-19 has changed how we practice dental hygiene. We use sophisticated air purification systems in the clinic, as well as large extra-oral suctions that limit the amount of aerosols in the air.  We treat only eight patients each clinic session, vs. 16 typically, due to safe social distancing practices,” Professor Gauthier said. “We screen all of our patients in order to keep everyone safe. Students and faculty are also vaccinated and tested weekly for COVID-19.”

Professor Gauthier said students who graduate from the program have no trouble with job placement. According to the Labor Board of Statistics, dental hygiene is growing 11% faster than the national average for 2020 – 2030, with a median pay in 2020 of $77,090.

“Many of our students have secured jobs before graduation. We get calls or emails weekly from dentists in the community asking us to post job postings or to send out their ad to recent graduates,” she continued. “The role of the dental hygienist has gotten more complex as patients present with more complex medical histories, all of which needs to be considered in treatment planning. The standard of care has changed and thus the role of the dental hygienist.”

The Commission on Dental Accreditation accredits QCC’s Dental Hygiene and Dental Assisting programs.

"We graduate in just about eight months, and I am certain I will be proud to say I graduated from the Dental Hygiene program at QCC," Ms. Chaves said.

To learn more visit www.QCC.edu/dental-hygiene .

For more information about QCC, contact Josh Martin, Director of Institutional Communications at 508.854.7513 or jmartin [at] qcc.mass.edu

 

Quinsigamond Community College is the most affordable higher education in Worcester County. As a regional leader in education and workforce development, QCC serves the diverse educational needs of Central Massachusetts by providing affordable, accessible, and high quality programming leading to transfer, career, and lifelong learning.