Central Carolina C.C. Dental Hygiene Students Offer Services
By Katherine McDonald
Special to The Pilot
Lying on his back, with his mouth illuminated by a dentist's lamp, patient Dustin Harrington did as he was told. Then, dental hygiene student Mark Williamson gently picked at Harrington's teeth, cleaning them.
Williamson is studying dental hygiene at Central Carolina Community College. The college began offering that program as well as a dental assistant program in 2007. Both are located in the college's Dental Programs Clinic, a state-of-the-art training facility at the W.B. Wicker Business Campus in Sanford.
Both programs have received their initial accreditation from the American Dental Association. The first dental assisting class graduates in May and the first dental hygiene class, in May 2009. The dental hygiene students have spent almost a year learning about teeth and how to clean, X-ray, scale, root plane, lighten, and do fluoride treatments. Now, they are prepared to help people keep their teeth healthy. The students want the public, wherever they live, to come to the clinic and take advantage of their services.
Harrington, a Sanford resident, did so recently. It was the first time he had come to the clinic for a teeth cleaning, and he was impressed.
"The clinic has excellent service and facilities," he said.
Williamson smiled at the compliment. He's the only male in the dental hygiene class, but he's doing what he loves. The 1994 Lee County High School graduate is a veteran, having served nine years with the U.S. Army. He is still in the Reserves.
"When I was in the Army, I went to a dentist," he said. "I decided working on people's teeth was something I could do and enjoy."
Williamson earned an associate degree at CCCC. He was about to enroll for his dental hygiene studies at a university when the college started its program. That made getting his training much more convenient for the Sanford resident -- and a lot less expensive.
In the clinic's X-ray lab, dental hygiene student Whitney Cox was taking X-rays of Faye Riddle's teeth. Riddle, of Sanford, happens to be Whitney's grandmother. She came to the facility both for the care and to show support for her granddaughter.
"This facility is super," Riddle said. "It's so nice here."
The compliments are sweet to the ears of the instructors. They've worked hard to see that the students are well trained.
"I enjoy seeing them understand the new concepts and learn to use the instruments," said Vicky Stark, of Carthage, lead instructor. "These students have met all the ADA requirements and evaluations before they work on people's teeth."
Dental hygiene student Dana Satterfield, of Sanford, is eager to help people toward a healthier smile.
"The preparation they give us here is really good," she said "We've got up-to-date equipment. The public should come in. We do a really thorough cleaning, but we're gentle."
Tiffanie White, of Raleigh, the dental hygiene instructor, said many people don't get basic dental hygiene care because they are afraid of dentists or can't afford to go.
"We can do the first steps for their dental health in our program," she said. "We also encourage those who need work to go get it done."
Across the hall in the Wicker Business Campus is the Central Carolina Dental Center, operated by the Lee County Health Department. After the CCCC hygienists do their part, patients may go to the Center or to a local dentist to continue working on their dental health.
To make an appointment with the CCCC Dental Programs Clinic, call office manager Terri McKone at (919) 775-2122. Appointments are made in three-hour time blocks.
Katherine McDonald is a news and feature writer for Central Carolina Community College.
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