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Dental Hygiene students to host free dental sealant and fluoride treatments for children

April 3, 2023

CCRI’s Class of 2023 Dental Hygiene students are hosting a free dental sealant and fluoride treatment clinic for children ages 6–17 as their semester community project at the college’s Lincoln Campus.

The event, named “Get in the Groove,” is scheduled for Wednesday, May 3 from 3–5 pm at the college’s Flanagan Campus in Lincoln, RI. All children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Scheduling for a treatment is by appointment only by calling 401-333-7330. Each patient’s parent or guardian must sign a HIPPA and treatment consent form. Children attending the free clinic will receive sealants on qualifying teeth.

CCRI’s Dental Hygiene program seeks to prepare students as dental hygienists who can competently and safely perform dental hygiene procedures; display the personal qualities of integrity, responsibility and reliability; function as active members of the dental care team; and are committed to professional development through life-long learning.

The name of the event, “Get in the Groove,” is based on the surface area of the back teeth – tiny grooves known as fissures – that are susceptible to tooth decay because of how hard they are to clean and how often food and bacteria gets stuck in between; grooves are often narrower than a single toothbrush bristle, making them especially difficult for children to clean.

“Dental sealants are an effective preventive measure against tooth decay, and we are excited to offer this service to those who may not have access to regular dental care,” said Ashley Soares, a CCRI dental hygiene student and Senior Class Officer for the Dental Hygiene Program.

“We collectively came up with ‘Get in the Groove’ because the most common place to have tooth decay for children is within the grooves, pits, and fissures of the molars. Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases, affecting millions of children every year. Untreated tooth decay can cause pain, infection, and can even lead to more serious health problems. Moreover, it can significantly affect a child’s quality of life, causing difficulty in eating, sleeping, and concentrating in school. The good news is that tooth decay is preventable and one of the most effective preventive measures is dental sealant.”

The treatments provided at the clinic target those specific grooves. Sealants are a thin, protective shield applied to the grooved and pitted areas of the teeth that prevent cavities and tooth decay by blocking out germs and food. Fluoride treatments also prevent tooth decay and promote remineralization, which helps repair early decay. In most fluoride treatments, a clear gel or foam is painted directly onto the teeth.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 20 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 11 have untreated cavities and more than half (52 percent) have had a cavity in their primary (baby) teeth.

“The CCRI Dental Hygiene Program provides educational opportunities that empower students to become competent dental hygienists who provide quality comprehensive care,” said CCRI Dental Hygiene Program Director Janice Schmitz, CDA, RDH, DHSc. “We prepare our graduates to meet the future oral health needs of the community and promote lifelong learning and community service. One way we do this is through our Community Day, where our senior students plan, implement, and evaluate the results of a community dental health clinic. This year’s ‘Get in the Groove’ sealant clinic will meet the objectives of our program by giving our students the opportunity to plan and implement a service learning project, as well as meeting the needs of our community by providing this important preventative treatment.”

As part of CCRI’s Dental Hygiene Program, the college runs a dental hygiene clinic, a classroom/learning environment located at the Flanagan Campus, for student dental hygienists that provides free dental services to the community between September and May.

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