SPRINGFIELD — The rising cost of dental insurance, or lack of coverage, can cause families to skip going to the dentist. Combine that with pre-existing complications or fears of having work done, and it’s tough to be in the business of treating patients who are in need of help.
Dental hygiene students at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) are no strangers to the anxiety, fears, and frustrations many patients have when it comes to oral hygiene and visits to the dentist. The students, who undergo the rigorous two-year program to obtain their associate degree, are qualified to help patients navigate through the process of good dental healthcare. Many patients don’t realize routine cleanings are as important as visiting their primary-care physicians, as oral hygiene is the window to their overall healthcare.
“We educate our students not just for a career, but also to provide outreach services to our community,” said STCC Associate Professor of Dental Hygiene Michelle Sirois. “Dental hygienists have a long history of supporting access to care and being a part of the healthcare profession that is truly focused on prevention as its core foundation. We play a key role in the delivery of healthcare services to prevent and help treat disease while it’s still manageable.”
As part of their training, students must work on a number of patients with a variety of dental issues in the STCC dental hygiene clinic, which is conveniently located on the STCC campus in Building 20. The clinic, which is open to the public, offers a full range of dental hygiene services to the community and is overseen by licensed dentists and hygienists. Services offered include routine cleanings, sealants, chemotherapeutic placement, tooth whitening, dietary assessment/nutritional counseling, X-rays, deep scaling, and much more.
For those patients with dental insurance, reimbursement paperwork can be submitted after treatment. But for those who do not have insurance, the clinic is a cost-effective way to get the treatment they need. The one-time fee patients pay for their services is all they pay — so there’s no further billing once they’ve walked out the door. And the quality of care and services provided mirror what a local dental office would provide, Sirois said. “Our students are trained to provide the highest level of excellence in dental hygiene care. Area dentists are constantly seeking our graduates.”
Anyone interested in services provided by the clinic should call (413) 755-4900. To learn more about the dental hygiene program or how to enroll, call the STCC Admissions office at (413) 755-3333.