Free Dental Care for Seniors Draws Full House at BCCC


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For Immediate Release:

Oct. 19, 2012



Bill Fleming


BALTIMORE - The annualpush to provide free preventive dental care to area seniors through theBaltimore City Community College Dental Hygiene Clinic made for a busy weekOct. 15-19 for student dental hygienists at the facility, who strive to makesure each patient leaves with a smile.
EachOctober, as part of National Dental Hygiene Month, BCCC holds a Senior Weekcommunity outreach event as the college swings open the doors of its Libertycampus clinic to seniors 62 and over, for free cleanings, oral cancer exams andx-rays.

To JeanWicks of Randallstown, the busy Thursday morning slot she obtained wassomething to look forward to. She has been coming here since 1976 and is veryfamiliar with the services. “I enjoy the BCCC Dental Hygiene Clinic,” she says.“Of course, this week the cost is free but if you come at any other time, it’sonly $20. You don’t pay a lot of money. You get your teeth completely checkedout and cleaned!”

Ms. Wicks’shusband, Donald, doesn’t like to get cavities. He says it will be nice to know,once he has a successful checkup, he’ll be free of any other dental issues –including cancer. The free services are an added “plus” to him as he, like manyseniors, cannot afford the extra expense of dental insurance. This at a time inlife when things can go dramatically wrong with people’s oral health as theybegin to lose teeth or need expensive dental procedures or surgery.

It’s greatto have a clean mouth!” he says.

According toclinic physician Dr. Edna Street-Jones, providing free preventive dental careaccess to seniors can play an important role in the public health process.“Lots of diseases will show up in the mouth before patients know about it,” shesays. “One of the major ones is diabetes. During Senior Week we often seepeople who are medically compromised. We maintain a nice referral list and havethe ability, though we don’t have to use it very often, to relieve pain andadminister antibiotics.”

BCCCserviced 52 people during this year’s Senior Week. Approximately 10 percent arereferred, in any given year, for dental health issues beyond the free exam.

“It’s areally high standard of preventive care,” said BCCC student dental hygienetechnician Jackie Propst. “I enjoy the program. And these services are vital tothe overall health of our community as we see a rise in oral HPV casesaffecting both males and females, which can cause cancer.”

She pointedout how the BCCC program enjoys one of the best hire rates of any in the area.“One hundred percent of our dental hygiene graduates can leave here and get ajob,” she said. “And we have the highest exam pass rates.”

Student-technicianRachel Moledina will graduate next spring and work at a private dental hygieneclinic with which she has a relationship. Overall, the BCCC program drawsstudents from as far away as southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore.


According toAnnette Russell, RDH, M.S., Dental Hygiene program director, “This is both apersonal and a public health imperative. I was so happy to see all the seniorsthis year and I think what we tried to do lives up to the spirit of BCCC as acommunity college in full service to our neighbors. Students are creatingexciting new opportunities for themselves despite a challenging economy.”


The BCCCDental Hygiene Program offers students a hands-on training experience in itsstate-of-the-art clinic while servicing the needs of the community. Twice peryear, area residents are invited to take advantage of free dental hygieneservices at the clinic. Sealant Saturday, held each spring, offers children andyoung adults ages 6-18 a free protective sealant coating on their permanent molarsto help prevent tooth decay. Senior Week, during the fall, provides much-neededfree preventive dental care to seniors ages 62 and over.

For moreinformation, contact the BCCC Institutional Advancement Office.