Battle Ground HealthCare, Clark College dental hygiene program partner for free teeth cleanings

BATTLE GROUND — The four dental hygiene bays at Battle Ground HealthCare have been crowded for the past five Tuesdays, filled with instructors and students from the Clark College dental hygiene program.

In five sessions, 25 students helped provide free teeth cleanings for 80 patients.

“It’s really cool to be able to help people who can’t afford dental care,” said Ellie Chapman, who graduates from the program in June.

For five consecutive Tuesdays starting in February, five different students, two instructors, a licensed hygienist and a doctor gathered together at the clinic to offer services to 16 patients a day, according to Krista Pietila, dental coordinator at Battle Ground HealthCare . A huge piece of working at the clinic was practicing working in a team.

The students received an hour and a half to work with each patient — a much shorter time frame than the practice they get while in school, which is typically three hours a session and multiple sessions per patient, according to Sophia Azizi, a student graduating in June. Each student got the opportunity to go over medical history with their patients, practice charting and work hands on to perform a standard teeth cleaning.

“(The students) have been overwhelmed; but at the same time, using their learned skills to get through it, they have found success,” said Bobbi Mash, a clinical instructor at Clark College. After working at Battle Ground HealthCare with the students for the past few weeks, she has decided to start volunteering on her own time, as well.

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