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Brush up on Dental Hygiene molar.png - Dental hygiene students are looking for specific patients to help fulfill their graduation requirements. Photo credit: Jian Bautista Full view

Brush up on Dental Hygiene

UAA has numerous branches of education, including the School of Allied Health that in of itself offers numerous health field programs. One of which is their very own Dental Hygiene clinic. UAA offers something unique that other schools may not have in its very own dental clinic located in the Allied Health building on campus. The 27 student dental assistants use this as an opportunity to gain critical clinical hours required for them to graduate.

It looks, feels, and even operates like any other dental clinic, but for a much more reasonable price. A cleaning will only cost you $50 versus a private practice clinic price of roughly $250.

The Dental Hygiene program requires students to go through a rigorous amount of training in the dental clinic. Trainings can range from cleanings to x-rays and patient treatment plans. The students first began working in the clinic after two years of prerequisites and use the following two years to hone their hands on dental skills.

“This semester has been hard for us to find patients we can use for our requirements,” Jaci Blossom, a senior and dental hygiene major, said.

These patients could determine whether her and fellow senior Christy Widman graduate on time. In order to receive a degree in Dental Hygiene, a program where more than 90 percent of graduates are already placed into jobs, students need to work on very specific patients.

As if the stresses of everyday college courses weren’t enough, relying on patients you’ve never met, with rare dental cases can be taxing. Making their graduation rates almost directly relevant to their amount of patients per semester. These issues place added stress on the future grads.

“I can study for tests, but having my patients numbers out of my hands, out of my control, that is very very stressful,” Widman said.

The clinical staff has gone as far as Craigslist ads and fliers made available to the homeless community, trying to solve their patient problem.

They are attempting to lasso up a few patients, in need of serious flossing lessons. Serious, being the key, in that they actually need clients who have problems managing their dental health. A large part of the dental exams they need to graduate require them to deal more with unhealthy teeth than pearly whites.

Rena Queja, the front office manager who just started working in their clinic last August, has seen this first hand. Queja admitted that the overall numbers of patients are fine but they are mostly return patients. What the students in the clinic are in need of is new patients to receive their necessary hours.

“We need specific patients,” Queja said.

Queja and both students agreed they need the type of patients who have greater tartar build-up on their teeth. Tartar is a case of plaque on your teeth hardening, becoming impossible for you to remove on our own. Tartar must be removed by proper dental treatment plans that the School of Allied Health’s and UAA’s very own Dental Hygiene Clinic offer.

“We could typically see up to 52 customers a lab day, but not all of those match students requirements, ” Queja said.

The UAA Dental Clinic offers catered treatment plans for people with severe calculus buildup or simply terrible morning breath. These plans are ones that fellow students must complete to graduate. All 14 seniors in the program nearing graduation are doing everything they can to recruit these new patients in order to receive there diplomas this spring.

Hours and clinical hours are both available on the UAA website by quickly searching Dental Clinic.

Written by Jake Johnson

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