“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Each year, in recognition of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday, Clayton State University Dental Hygiene students, staff and faculty provide a “Day of Service” for the community. This year, 27 new patients were provided free oral health screenings, x-rays and patient educational services in the Clayton State Dental Hygiene Clinic, says Dr. W. Gail Barnes, department chair, Dental Hygiene program.
“Unfortunately, many in our community have experienced poor oral hygiene due to a number of reasons such as lack of dental insurance, low income, etc.,” says Barnes.
The Clayton State Dental Hygiene Clinic provides several preventive dental care services for a nominal fee. These services are performed by students who are devoted to educate and provide oral health services to their patients. Students and patients provide mutually beneficial services and develop a bond that lasts long after the appointment is over.
“Dr. King would certainly be pleased with our dental hygiene students, staff and faculty for their participation in the annual Day of Service, which subsequently coincides with for what he tirelessly worked, `the broader concerns of the community,’” adds Barnes.
The department chair isn’t the only dental hygienist at ClaytonState who’s enthusiastic about the Day of Service.
“Our Annual MLK Service Learning Day was a great success!” exclaims Clayton State Student American Dental Hygienists’ Association (SADHA) President Jessica McClendon. “The junior and senior students, a total of 45 students, worked together to help make the day successful.
“Our patients were all smiles after their dental appointments,” she says. “The seniors were extremely thankful that the juniors assisted them with paperwork during the oral health screenings, and developing radiographs.
McClendon especially notes that work by Soumayah Walton-Davis, Ashley McKinnon, Kelsey Lovell, Tara Leatherwood, and Aishah Bari Varachhia in patient education.
“Those students gave `how to’ instructions for brushing and flossing in great detail!” she says. “The free large bottles of Listerine were a big hit, too.
"I saw patients who hadn't seen a dentist in a very long time; it was rewarding to know I was the first step in helping them get back to health."
"It was nice to help patients, also having the juniors there made it easier and less stressful on the seniors," adds SADHA Historian Monica Canning.
"It was a wonderful opportunity to serve the community and it was wonderful being able to help these patients a little extra that day," says SADHA Vice President Danielle Ashby.
"Preventative measures one tooth at a time keeps everyone's smile in line!" adds Treasurer Walton-Davis.
"It was a rewarding experience and we enjoyed providing services to the community,” says senior Kayla Dlugolecki. “Accessing health care is a big issue for a lot of citizens, and it was nice to give back to the community using the resources we had available."
While the senior students appreciated the juniors’ help, the latter also appreciated the opportunity to serve.
"Sometimes money troubles can hold patients back from a healthy mouth,” says junior Chelsea Parker. “Our MLK Service Learning Day was a great way for the patients to get a full oral health screening for free, while also being educated on the importance of dental health."
“All in all, we were thankful for the hard work it took from all of the dental hygiene staff, instructors, and students that made our MLK Service Learning day such a great day shared with lots of memories!” concludes McClendon.