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Dental Hygiene Students Volunteer at Iowa Mission of Mercy

    by Emilie Jenson, Public Information Office
    Posted on 11/9/2022

Iowa Central Dental Hygiene students volunteered their time and services last weekend when they traveled to Des Moines to participate in the Iowa Mission of Mercy (IMOM) free dental clinic.

Held in the Varied Industries Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, the two-day IMOM event offered cleanings, fillings, x-rays, endodontic, periodontic and pediatric dentistry services and minor oral surgery procedures at no cost to patients on a first come- first served basis. The 2022 event took place November 4-5.

Dental hygiene students spent part of their daylong experience assisting with x-rays where they gained experience working with equipment that is not offered in home their hygiene clinic such as a portable handheld NOMAD x-ray device.  Students also worked in triage where they evaluated individual cases with other hygienists and dentists to determine the urgency of each patient’s case, did routine cleanings, and assisted chairside with restorative dentistry, anesthesia and extractions.

The students said the event challenged them as future hygienists by seeing more severe dental cases than they would normally see in their campus clinic.  

“They saw a lot of challenging cases with severe decay,” said Renee Piper, Dental Hygiene program coordinator. “They get experience there with seeing more in depth dental health histories.”

Pieper said the experience also gave the students a chance to work with unique cases and patients that they don’t see in campus hygiene clinic.

“They saw a lot of things we don’t see in our clinic,” she said “patients in wheel chairs, patients with missing teeth.”

“We definitely saw a lot of things you learn about in class or see in books, but don’t usually see in our clinic,” the students commented. “It was very beneficial to be a part of IMOM and see some of the cases that we did.”

The event was also an opportunity for students to meet with other hygiene students, registered dental hygienists and dentists from across the state.

“It’s a great networking opportunity,” said Piper. “They make a lot of contacts with dental professionals from all over the state.”

Piper said it is rewarding as an instructor to see what her students have learned come together at the event.

“It all comes together for them at events like this,” she said “Courses like community dentistry, when they see this it all makes sense, that moment they understand why we teach it. They also learn empathy; some patients haven’t been able to see a dentist in years and it can teach our students how grateful you should be to be where you are in your life.”

Since it began in 2008, Iowa Mission of Mercy has treated more than 15,000 patients from all areas of the state and provided free dental care totaling over $10 million.

“Thousands of people received some kind of treatment or dental care that day,” said Piper. “I am proud that we were able to be a part of it.”

Iowa Central Dental Hygiene Students hold clinics by appointment. Appointments can be made by contacting the clinic at 515-574-1327

For more information on the Iowa Central Dental Hygiene Program visit

Dental Hygiene Students Volunteer at Iowa Mission of Mercy

Diversity is important to me. For people to learn and grow, there must be diversity in the workplace, schools, and sports. That is another reason I wanted to go to Iowa Central; there are so many people here from across the world, all with different backgrounds and life experiences. I saw Iowa Central as an opportunity not only to grow in both academics and in athletics, but also to become a stronger person.

Lilia Alvarez
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