With only 10 students admitted each year, the
State Fair Community College (SFCC) Dental Hygiene program in Sedalia, MO, may be a small program compared with others, but the value of services they provide to the surrounding community is immeasurable.
In March 2002, SFCC’s first dental coalition was formed with 22 community partners participating, and “New Smiles for Pettis County” was born. The result was a unique sealant program with an emphasis on client education and career awareness. Since the fall of 2004, over 4,000 local school children in the
third grade have been through the program provided by SFCC’s dental hygiene students. Last year, a new grant made it possible for the program to include sixth grade students as well. Over the years, nearly 11,000 sealants have been placed, averaging 2.5 per student.
The program, designed as a rotation system, takes place about once a month with an average attendance of 100. As the children arrive, they are greeted as a group and given the objectives for the day. They are then separated into five smaller groups of about 20. Each group then visits an educational station, one of which
is the Dental Hygiene Clinic where the children are screened by a dentist to determine their oral care needs. Each child is assigned to a pair of dental hygiene students that includes a senior student, who places the sealants, and a junior student, who assists.
The children then rotate to four other educational stations, which for third graders include nutrition, where they learn about the sugar content in a variety of foods and the need for healthy choices. The pH and saliva station demonstrates the concepts of demineralization and remineralization. At another
station, children learn about dental care and effective techniques. The final station is in the college’s Stauffacher Theatre, where dental hygiene students present a fun skit to reinforce the information presented throughout the day.
With the addition of sixth graders, the dental hygiene students were tasked with developing different age-appropriate programming. The nutrition station emphasizes the health effects of processed foods. Other stations include the effects of tobacco use, oral piercings, sports guards and the use of a
microscope to view live oral bacteria.
With the support of the Pettis County Health Department and other community partners, SFCC’s dental hygiene students will continue to provide this program, which not only greatly benefits the children but also offers students an opportunity for service and personal growth that prepares them to be caring
Published August 12, 2015.