Dental Hygiene program hosts first-ever children’s dental clinic

by Catalina Myers  |   

The School of Allied Health’s Dental Hygiene program, will offer youth under 18 a complete dental exam, including cleaning, sealants, oral hygiene education and of course, a goodie bag at the first-ever Children's Day dental clinic, Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. (Photo by James Evans / University of Alaska Anchorage)

 This Friday, University of Alaska Anchorage dental students will have the opportunity to serve the community's youngest members during the Children’s Day Dental Clinic. The event, hosted by the School of Allied Health’s Dental Hygiene program, will offer youth under 18 a complete dental exam, cleaning and a take-home bag of goodies.

"This is going to be a good experience for all of our students at all of the different levels of learning; we’re really excited for this event,” said Carri Shamburger, Dental Hygiene program director. 

Shamburger said the day’s event, conveniently held on an Anchorage School District in-service day, is divided into two clinics, a morning and afternoon session. UAA dental hygiene students and their supervising instructors are equipped to see 11 patients per session. They will gain real-world experience practicing in a clinical setting, a requirement to earn their degrees.

Although youth are invited to participate at the annual Dental Days Clinics, this is the first time the Dental Hygiene program has offered a clinic solely dedicated to those under the age of 18. Shamburger said it’s been challenging signing up enough youth for exams during clinics for dental hygiene students to obtain hands-on experience in the past. She said by offering a pediatric day only, they hope they will encourage more youth participation and provide an opportunity for students to put their classroom skills to work.

Shamburger said there are some significant differences in treating adults versus children, with one of the foremost simply being their size. She said children’s mouths and teeth are much smaller and can be more challenging when providing an exam. Additionally, she said children’s exams often include extra procedures like adding sealants to protect their teeth as well as an educational component.

“We provide a lot of in-home care instruction and are planning to do a skit to really educate the children on oral health care prior to them stepping into our clinic and receiving our services from a clinician,” Shamburger said. 

In addition to performing exams, cleanings and oral hygiene education, students will have the opportunity to practice essential communication skills to put children at ease in the dental chair.

“Sometimes, the children that come to see us are one of the first visits they ever have to the dentist,” said Shamburger. “Our job is to make it as enjoyable and non-scary as possible, so we set them up for success for dental care throughout the rest of their lifetime. We don’t want them to fear the dentist and for them to see this as a positive experience.”

Shamburger stressed that although Children's Day is a learning opportunity for Dental Hygiene students, COVID-19 health and safety protocols will be in place to ensure the safety of patients and the students and faculty administering exams and cleanings.

“We are doing COVID screenings, and people will be asked to complete a survey before entering the clinic,” said Shamburger. “As health professionals, we’ll be wearing all of the personal protective equipment, and we have modified our clinic space and are taking all the safety protocols, including disinfecting all touchable surfaces.”

Shamburger said her students are looking forward to the clinic this Friday and that there are still spaces available for parents to sign up their children. In the end, she said this clinic helps UAA Dental Hygiene students gain valuable hands-on experience under the watchful eye of their instructors and provides a free service to youth in the community needing a dental examination and cleaning.

“We really just want this to be a fun and educational experience where we do a great job taking care of your children’s teeth,” said Shamburger.


For additional information on the UAA Children’s Day dental clinic, visit the Dental Hygiene website or call 907-786-6960 to schedule an appointment.

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