Dental Hygiene participates in Iowa Mission of Mercy Dental Clinic | News, Sports, Jobs

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Iowa Central Community College dental hygiene students volunteered their time and services recently at the Iowa Mission of Mercy free dental clinic in Des Moines.

Iowa Central Community College dental hygiene students volunteered their time and services recently when they traveled to Des Moines to participate in the Iowa Mission of Mercy (IMOM) free dental clinic.

Held in the Varied Industries Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, the two-day IMOM event offered cleanings, fillings, X-rays, endodontic, periodontic, pediatric dentistry services and minor oral surgery procedures at no cost to patients on a first-come, first-served basis. The event took place Nov. 4-5.

Dental hygiene students spent part of their daylong experience assisting with X-rays where they gained experience working with equipment that is not offered in their hygiene clinic such as a portable handheld NOMAD X-ray device. Students also worked in triage, where they evaluated individual cases with other hygienists and dentists to determine the urgency of each patient’s case, did routine cleanings, and assisted chairside with restorative dentistry, anesthesia and extractions.

The students said the event challenged them as future hygienists by seeing more severe dental cases than they would normally see in their campus clinic.

“They saw a lot of challenging cases with severe decay,” said Renee Piper, dental hygiene program coordinator. “They get experience there with seeing more in-depth dental health histories.”

Piper said the experience also gave the students a chance to work with unique cases and patients that they don’t see in campus hygiene clinic.

“They saw a lot of things we don’t see in our clinic,” she said, “patients in wheelchairs, patients with missing teeth.”

The event was also an opportunity for students to meet with other hygiene students, registered dental hygienists and dentists from across the state.

“It’s a great networking opportunity,” said Piper. “They make a lot of contacts with dental professionals from all over the state.”

Piper said it is rewarding as an instructor to see what her students have learned together at the event.

“It all comes together for them at events like this,” she said “Courses like community dentistry, when they see this it all makes sense, that moment they understand why we teach it. They also learn empathy; some patients haven’t been able to see a dentist in years and it can teach our students how grateful you should be to be where you are in your life.”

Since it began in 2008, Iowa Mission of Mercy has treated more than 15,000 patients from all areas of the state and provided free dental care totaling over $10 million.

“Thousands of people received some kind of treatment or dental care that day,” said Piper. “I am proud that we were able to be a part of it.”

Iowa Central Dental Hygiene Students hold clinic days by appointment. Appointments can be made by contacting the clinic at 515-574-1327

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