Oral hygiene took a hit during pandemic, Utah college aims for education

Posted at 12:59 PM, Mar 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-02 14:59:31-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Americans’ oral hygiene has taken a hit since the pandemic. Studies not only show a shortage in dental hygienists, but a decline in how frequently people brush their teeth.

Fortis College in Salt Lake City is working to improve Utah’s standing in both areas through its two-year, dental hygiene training program.

The curriculum incorporates real-world learning experiences through its clinic that’s open to the public.

The facility is equipped with the latest technology for students to use when they’re examining teeth and gums.

“I want to educate patients and show them that what’s going on in your mouth is going to go on throughout your whole body,” says Lesly Anderson, of Monroe.

The 25-year-old graduates in October, but she already has a job secured after she completes the program.

Anderson is one of roughly 90 students currently enrolled in the program. According to Jodie Lopez, Dean of the Dental Hygiene program, each student also must complete 40 hours of community service to graduate.

They’ve participated in various outreach efforts, which includes providing free- care to refugees, as well as supporting victims of abuse and addiction. Their next volunteer opportunity will take place on March 24th when they provide free dental cleanings to those who are part of Project Homeless Connect in Salt Lake City.

“When they first start the program, they’re very apprehensive. As they progress, watching them become these professionals, is what we are so proud of,” explains Lopez.

Lopez invites anyone from the public to book a cleaning appointment at their clinic. While the cleanings are performed by students, they’re double-checked by licensed hygienists.

While she cautions that appointments tend to be longer, they cost less. The first visit is $30 and $20 for every visit afterward.

To schedule an appointment, call: 801-713-4200. Students are accepted in January and July. March 15th is the deadline to apply.