By Caitlin Duke
Dental hygiene may not be on everyone’s top priority list due to the average teeth cleaning costing anywhere from $80 to $175 dollars without dental insurance. Poor dental hygiene can lead to side effects such as heart disease and impact on blood sugar, and it even has been linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia, which can cost even more money in the long run.
Dental hygiene may be expensive, but Amarillo College is providing an alternative that can benefit students and the overall public. According to an e-mail from Donna Cleere, dental hygiene program director, “Students of Amarillo College along with faculty and staff may utilize the services provided in the dental clinic free of charge.” The public also can receive a cleaning procedure, X-rays and fluoride therapy for $30.
The Amarillo College dental hygiene program began in the early 1970s and accepts around 28 students each year. Stefanie Tirado, a dental hygiene major, said, “I think that this program has a reputation for being tough to get into, but if you are mature and responsible, it is well worth it.”
A dental hygienist is a licensed health care professional and clinician who promotes oral health. The need for people in the occupation is expected to rise in the next 10 years. “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of dental hygienists is expected to grow by 38 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is much faster than the average for all occupations,” Cleere said via email.
Dental hygiene may not be on everyone’s list, but some students are giving this major a second thought.
“I enrolled in fall of 2012 after I talked to a girl who was in the program,” said dental hygiene major Jenna Walsworth. “I always loved going to the dentist but never thought of it as a profession until she told me about the program.”
The students are accompanied by a licensed professional and receive hands -on training by being able to provide hygiene services such as cleanings, X-rays, blood pressure and oral cancer screenings on patients. They also require at least two years of prerequisites before applying to the dental hygiene program.
The Amarillo College Dental Hygiene Clinic is open this semester through Dec. 6 from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
Patients can call 806-354-6050 for appointments.