Goodwin's Dental Hygiene Clinic hosts 'Give Kids a Smile' day

Goodwin College's Dental Hygiene Clinic - a new two-story building at 403 Main St., just around the corner from Goodwin College's main campus - recently offered free dental care to underserved local children.

The new building houses a clinic with 14 chairs. Dental hygiene students clean patients' teeth, remove plaque, give fluoride treatments and administer X-rays, if needed. A dentist checks their work each step of the way, and more than one visit is needed to complete certain procedures. Nutrition counseling, smoking cessation advice and dental health instruction are also available.

On March 25, the clinic hosted "Give Kids a Smile," a free one-day event especially for children, although the clinic fulfilled appointments for adults that day as well.

"We just opened the clinic in January," said Amy Margillo, a teacher. "We hope to have another 'Give Kids a Smile' event in the fall. By then, our new students will be in their second year and will be able to do sealants."

X-rays are given in a separate group of rooms. All equipment is state-of-the-art.

Carmen Hufcut, the Dental Hygiene Program director, said the clinic sees an average of 14 to 20 patients a day, but will soon be able to accommodate more.

"This class has 17 students," she said. "There will be 30 students starting in May."

When they are not at the clinic, the students take classes on the building's second floor. After completing the requirements, which include a national exam, the students can become full-fledged dental hygienists.

Students are well versed in dental hygiene basics. Kristen LaClaire said the best way to brush teeth is to angle the brush upward to get under the gumline on each side of the gums. Then move the brush in small circles, finishing with a downward sweep.

The dental clinic shares the building with the ophthalmology department, which gives exams and glasses to at-risk people as well as students, faculty and staff at Goodwin College.

Robert Muirhead, Goodwin's media relations coordinator, said the private, non-profit college is expanding. A new advanced manufacturing building opened recently. The school also has a downtown campus a few miles north on Main Street. These initiatives are meant to accommodate the students, who often have jobs or other commitments in addition to their courses.

"We have to meet the students' needs," Muirhead said. "Are they going to get jobs after they graduate? Will they be able to work? That's what they want. We are here for them."

To make an appointment at the Goodwin College Dental Hygiene Clinic, call 860-218-1800.

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