Something to Smile About

Dental Hygiene Clinic on Anderson campus provides much-needed service

Ameron Laker

Dental care is an often underappreciated contributor to our overall wellness. For many of us, it becomes too easy to neglect—especially given the cost, even with insurance. But thanks to the Dental Hygiene Clinic, located on the Ivy Tech Community College campus in Anderson, area residents can get affordable, quality dental services while helping students get invaluable experience.

The Dental Hygiene Clinic, which features state-of-the-art equipment, 10 treatment areas, and two rooms with digital radiography, opened in 2009. Fifteen students work in the clinic each semester, serving about 2,000 patients every year. During a typical visit, patients get a full examination, including a head and neck exam cancer screening, X-rays and a periodontal exam.

Ivy Tech East Central Dental Hygiene Program Chair Joyce Hudson says the facility provides substantial benefits for both students and the community.

“The primary goal of the clinic is to provide a clinical education facility for dental hygiene and dental assisting students enrolled at Ivy Tech,” Hudson says. “A secondary goal is to provide low-cost preventive dental care to individuals who reside in Madison, Delaware, Grant and surrounding counties.”

Students also have the opportunity to interact with patients and teach them about prevention and care while under the supervision of a licensed dentist and licensed hygienists. According to one graduate, it’s the perfect introduction to a fulfilling career.

“I received an excellent education during my time at Ivy Tech,” says Ameron Laker, a former student and alumna. “Ivy Tech’s Dental Hygiene program successfully prepared me for life after graduation.”

Laker’s experience demonstrates that the Clinic even prepares students for the unexpected. During one of her clinic sessions, Laker was working with a 15-year-old patient and protocol called for a panoramic dental X-ray, a scan of the upper and lower jaw. The patient’s mother was hesitant about the X-ray, but Laker was able to explain why this was so important to her child’s health. The mother agreed to the X-ray, which revealed ameloblastoma, a rare, benign tumor of odontogenic epithelium. While these tumors are rarely malignant or metastatic, and progress slowly, the resulting lesions can cause severe abnormalities of the face and jaw. If an aggressive tumor is left untreated, it can obstruct the nasal and oral airways, making it impossible to breathe without oropharyngeal intervention. After the appointment the patient was referred for treatment and underwent intensive treatment and surgery.

The mother of the patient is ever grateful to Laker and the clinic, and her child continues to receive care at the facility. And that’s exactly why Ivy Tech provides the service—and why Hudson says it’s such a critical asset.

“Every day, we see patients who might otherwise have to go without dental care,” she notes. “That means—even if only in a small way—we’re making our community stronger and healthier.”

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