Dental Clinic open to community


Emma Gustavsson / The Chart

Erin Flannigan, post-secondary dental hygiene major, conducts an examination of a patient in Missouri Southern’s dental hygiene clinic. Basic cleanings and exams are available to the public for $20.

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles taking a look at Missouri Southern’s new Health Sciences building.

Still whining about how far you have to drive to school? Talk to Skylit Grady-Weaver. She makes a  one hour and 40 minute drive from Arkansas every day to be a part of Missouri Southern’s dental hygiene program.

“I’m determined,” said Grady-Weaver, junior dental hygiene major, who chose Southern for the newly constructed Health Sciences building.

“You just like (the classes), so you just (drive) it,” she said.

And Grady-Weaver isn’t the only student who appreciates the program, a two-year “intense” hands-on training with one year of pre-requisites.

“It’s a full two years, they actually go through the summers as well,” said Erica Little, associate dental hygiene professor.

Plus, dental hygiene students aren’t the only ones benefiting from the program.

Clinic open for community

For anyone in the community, the Health Sciences building has an indoor clinic that the dental hygiene students use for training.

For $20, anyone can make an appointment to receive X-rays, teeth cleaning, an oral cancer screening, oral hygiene education, fluoride cleaning (if necessary) and, for children, sealants.

“We offer a lot of services (all) for $20, but it covers everything they need,” said Dr. Tia Strait, dean of the school of technology.

Open Tuesdays and Thursdays, the clinic is for anyone above age five and has everything a regular dentist’s office would. There are 22 chairs installed, and everything- from the X-ray machine to grading students’ work- is paperless.

The school uses current software to train the students; the computers for managing each patient’s chair is called Patterson Eaglesoft, and dental hygiene students can track their progress using Talleyval.

The only downside to the clinic: appointments must be made for three hour blocks. Little said this is because the students are still learning. However, Strait added that any patient in Southern’s clinic is taken good care of.

“Every patient is checked, double-checked and triple-checked,” Strait said.

The students don’t start by working on people, though. Meet Frank, a practice dummy with sensors in its mouth for students learning to administer shots or use sharp blades.

“Instead of students learning on each other like we have been for 30 years, they can learn on Frank,” Strait said.

Adds Little, “We can do many things with these Franks.”

The training is just what Charlotte Whitehead, junior dental hygiene major, was looking for.

“I love it so far,” she said. “It’s just a good job.”