TSU Dental Hygiene Program Reaches Out to the Community in a Big Way

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s Dental Hygiene Clinic is helping to provide needed care in the Nashville community.

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Abraham Osareme Simmons, who graduates in May, said community service was a key reason why he entered the Dental Hygiene program. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

In conjunction with its associate degree program, the clinic, located in Clement Hall on the main TSU campus, provides a wide range of dental services to nearly 600 patients a year at reduced cost. This includes the campus as well as the greater Nashville community.

“Outreach to the community is a significant part of what we do,” said Gary-Lee A. Lewis, chair of the Department of Dental Hygiene. “Our primary objectives here are to serve the community and prepare our students for licensure examinations. The hands-on training is extremely important to the students who will be job-ready at graduation, while the public receives quality, affordable dental care.”

That quality care will be on display April 22 at the Community Health and Wellness Fair in Kean Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The outreach event is free and open to the public.

The TSU clinic services include comprehensive oral examinations, X-rays, dental cleanings, radiography, oral health education, nutritional counseling, oral cancer screening, and tobacco assessment and cessation.

Graduates of the highly accredited program receive an Associate of Applied Science degree, which prepares them for diverse options in the health care environment.

Abraham Osareme Simmons, a senior Dental Hygiene major, said community service was part of the reason why he entered the program.

“I like to touch lives that are in need; that is very important to me,” said Simmons, who graduates in May. “That’s what inspired me to matriculate to the dental hygiene program. It is rewarding to see people feel good about themselves because of what you have done to make their lives better.”

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Reilly Poirier, a senior Dental Hygiene major, works on a patient in the Dental Hygiene Clinic. The clinic provides a range of services to about 600 patients a year. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The outreach initiatives of the program are not limited to services offered in the clinic, according to Brenda J. Kibbel, assistant professor of Dental Hygiene. Under the supervision of faculty, students are stationed in various areas in the community where they provide care.

“We are doing a lot of community outreach right now,” Kibbel said. “We actually have got in with the Metro Housing Development Association and we have been going to different housing projects doing oral cancer screening, preliminary screenings and education. We just did Cheatham Place where we saw 35 patients with 16 volunteer students.”

Students and professors have also completed services at Baby U and Hope Smiles at St. Thomas Medical Mobile Mission in Rutherford County, she said.

Besides dental screenings, the health and wellness fair will also provide fitness demonstrations and other health screenings including hypertension, glucose, and cholesterol. An educational component will offer information on weight loss management, nutrition, and HIV.

PROOFHealthFairv4v2b“Because HIV incidence is on the rise in communities with limited access to quality healthcare, our program’s message and mission is certainly in alignment with the goals and values of this event and its organizers,” said Vic Sorrell, Community Engagement Coordinator for Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s HIV Vaccine Program.

Sorrell will be among numerous health professionals ready to provide helpful information to people attending the event, which is sponsored by TSU, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and the DP Thomas Foundation for Obesity.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.