Wallace State Dental Hygiene students give clinical presentations

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Wallace State Community College Dental Hygiene students Karlee Stenger and Hanna Hornbuckle discuss digital detection of cavities and using the color-coded scale as a way to provide patients with a better understanding of their oral health.

HANCEVILLE – Dental Hygiene students at Wallace State Community College were put in the spotlight recently as they made clinical presentations in front of instructors, classmates, alumni and guests. The presentations are part of the curriculum for the program and tests the students research and communication skills.

The students were grouped in pairs to make their presentations, and topics ranged from digital detection of cavities and sleep apnea, to teeth whitening methods and antimicrobial tooth brushes.

“The students did a great job choosing relevant, current topics in dentistry,” instructor Susan Brewer said of the students who are in their second year of the program. This is the 18th year for clinical presentations by students in the Dental Hygiene Theory course.

Lydia Taylor and Samantha Schultz gave a presentation about sleep apnea and how dental professionals can help diagnose the affliction in their patients, sometimes before their general physician.

Symptoms of sleep apnea can include dry mouths, teeth grinding, enlarged tongue, and periodontal disease. By recognizing those signs, a dental hygienist can urge their patient be tested. Should treatment be needed, they can instruct a patient in the use of any oral appliance that is prescribed, as well as providing professional cleaning of the device.

Amberly Euper and Molly Hilburn outlined some new products in dentistry, specifically an antimicrobial toothbrush currently being sold online. The makers claim the brush will last twice as long as a regular tooth brush and its removable head is recyclable. The report indicated tooth brushes make up for 50 million pounds of plastics in landfills. The brush does not yet have approval by the American Dentistry Association, which was listed as one of its cons.

The report also included trends in teeth whitening techniques, including using charcoal and oil pulling. While the use of charcoal dates back to ancient times and can have positive results, the presenters indicated it shouldn’t be used as a substitute for daily brushing. Instead, if used, it should be used only weekly or less due to its abrasive nature. Oil pulling should also not be used as a substitute for daily brushing. One of its main disadvantages is the time it takes to be effective, with directions of swishing with oil for 15 to 20 minutes.

Dental Hygiene students earn clinical hours at Wallace State’s on campus dental clinic, which is open to the public. Clinic days vary depending on the semester, with appointment times between 8 and 10:30 a.m. and noon and 2:30 p.m. Services include dental cleaning, sealants and bleaching. Call 256-352-8300 to make an appointment.

For more information about the Dental Health programs at Wallace State, which include Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene, visit www.wallacestate.edu and choose their web pages under the Programs link, or call 256-352-8300.