GRCC Dental students, Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan partner to help senior citizens

GRCC  Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene student and instructor.

Grand Rapids Community College and the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan are hosting a free Senior Dental Day on March 14, helping students gain new experiences while volunteering to help residents.

Students in GRCC’s Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene programs will work with area dentists through the Kent County Oral Health Coalition to provide free cleanings, X-rays, exams and referrals.

The patients, all Kent County residents, are at least 60 years old and haven’t seen a dentist during the past 12 months. The Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan has organized the patients’ initial paperwork and is providing transportation to those who need it.

Professor Christine Dobberstein said the event introduces the GRCC students to a volunteer opportunity and public health collaboration.

“The students benefit by getting outside their comfort zones with a variety of patient experiences,” she said. “As they haven’t yet started their partner-office rotations, the Dental Assisting students haven’t had the chance to work with patients who are not friends, family or classmates. While the Dental Hygiene students have been seeing patients here in our GRCC clinic, they may not have worked with very many seniors at this point in their clinical education.”

Senior Dental Day also gives the Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene students, who are often on very different schedules, a chance to work together as a team to care for a large number of patients, Dobberstein said.

GRCC’s Dental Clinic is located on the third floor of the Peter and Pat Cook Academic Hall, 143 Bostwick Ave. NE.

Services, offered throughout the year, include a review of medical and dental history, blood pressure screening, cleanings, preliminary dental hygiene exams, X-rays, fluoride treatments, dental health instruction, chemotherapeutic agents and sealants. More information is available online.

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