Dental hygiene students from Iowa Central Community College recently volunteered their time and services when they traveled to Des Moines to attend the Iowa Mission of Mercy (IMOM) Free Dental Clinic.
The two-day IMOM event, held in the Varied Industries Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, featured patients on what appeared to be a first-served basis. The event took place from November 4th to 5th.
Dental hygiene students spent part of their full-time experience assisting with X-rays, where they gained experience working with equipment not offered in their hygiene clinic, such as: B. A portable portable NOMAD X-ray machine. The students also worked in triage, evaluating individual cases with fellow hygienists and dentists to determine the urgency of each patient’s case, performing routine cleanings, and chairside assisting with restorative dentistry, anesthesia, and extractions.
The students said the event challenged them as future hygienists by seeing heavier tooth cases than they would typically see at their campus clinic.
“They saw many challenging cases with severe decay,” said Renee Piper, dental hygiene program coordinator. “They gain experience there by looking at deeper dental health histories.”
Piper said the experience also gave the students a chance to work with unique cases and patients they don’t see at the campus hygiene clinic.
“They saw many things that 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. “You make a lot of contacts with dentists from all over the country.”
Piper said it was rewarding as an instructor to see what her students learned together at the event.
“Everything comes together for them at events like this,” she said “Courses like community dentistry, when they see that it all makes sense, that’s when they understand why we teach it. You also learn empathy; Some patients have not been able to see a dentist for years and that can teach our students how grateful they should be for where they are in their lives.”
Since its inception in 2008, the Iowa Mission of Mercy has treated more than 15,000 patients from across the state and provided over $10 million in free dental care.
“Thousands of people received some type of treatment or dental care that day,” said Piper. “I’m proud that we were allowed to be there.”
Iowa Central Dental Hygiene students hold clinic days by appointment. Appointments can be made through the clinic at 515-574-1327