From “Lac du Flambeau Tribe and Nicolet College form accredited tribal-technical college dental hygiene program” — The Lac du Flambeau Tribe is proud to announce the formation of the accredited Tribal-Technical College Dental Hygiene program. This premiere collaboration is the first of its kind partnership between an Indian Tribe and a technical college in the nation. Nicolet College, in association with Peter Christensen Dental Campus, has developed the accredited tribal-technical Dental Hygiene program.

Nicolet College recently received its initial accreditation approval from the national Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). The partnership allows students a hands-on educational experience in a state-of-the-art dental facility.

“This is great news, especially for the students currently in, or looking at entering the Dental Hygiene program,” Dr. Lenore Mangles, Dean of Health Occupations at Nicolet College, said. “In order for students to take their licensure exam to work in the Dental Hygiene field, they must graduate from an accredited program. We are thrilled students in the Northwoods will now have that opportunity.”

The rigorous accreditation process started nearly a year ago, and included a comprehensive review of numerous aspects of Nicolet’s program. The process included evaluations of course content, what skills students would learn, and a plan for students that ensured clinical training on patients of all ages.

To meet the requirements the college worked extensively with Dental Director Paco Fralick and other staff at the Peter Christensen Dental Campus to develop a curriculum that would meet the CODA requirements and provide accessible career opportunities for Tribal Members and students throughout the Northwoods region.

This past spring, five of the 10 students that enrolled in the dental assisting program were Native American. For the fall session, the program currently has 11 individuals enrolled in the program and five in the dental hygiene program. There are two full-time instructors and three part-time instructors for both programs.

Nicolet College received grant funding for the initial start-up and operation of the programs. Health Director of the Peter Christensen Dental Clinic Paco Fralick is optimistic that the programs will increase the number of Native Americans entering into the field of dentistry.

“I’m very proud of the work our staff and Nicolet College did to make this happen,” Fralick said.

Historically, Native Americans have been overwhelmingly under-represented in the field, with Dr. Fralick being only one of 150 Native American dentists in the nation.
“Now students looking for a career in dental hygiene or dental assisting can have the latest and most technologically advanced learning experience close to home,” Fralick said.

For more information about Nicolet’s dental education programs, visit Nicolet’s website, or call the college at 715-365-4451 or 800-544-3039, extension 4451.


From “Dreams come true for local CVTC grads” — Eau Claire — Friday night was a dream come true for Lori Hruza of Chippewa Falls and Devyne Gass of Cornell. Their paths were longer and a bit more winding than many of their fellow Chippewa Valley Technical College graduates, but they all came to the same place together: walking across the stage to receive their diplomas.

Hruza, 42, and Gass, 45, received associate degrees in nursing. They are now well prepared to pass their exams and become registered nurses, opening up greater career opportunities than they have experienced before in their lives.

“Dreams do come true,” said Hruza. “I always wanted to do nursing, and after my third child I decided to go back to school.“

Hruza has been many places in her adult life, as her husband pursued a military career. She worked in child care and taught preschool, at one point in Hawaii. But she always dreamt of becoming a nurse.

“It’s interesting learning about the human body, and I always enjoyed helping people,” she said. It became easier to pursue her dream after her children were older, and she chose CVTC’s nursing program.

Now, ready to enter the nursing profession and after seven years living in Chippewa Falls, she’s excited about a new adventure. “We’re moving to Hawaii!” she said.

Gass has already been working as a licensed practical nurse at a nursing home in Ladysmith. She attended Northcentral Technical College in Wausau some years ago for that training. She’s been wanting to advance her career.

“I wanted to get into a school that’s closer,” she said. “But it took a while to get back into the program.“

Now she’s on the verge of being an RN. It won’t mean an immediate change of scenery for her, but Gass knows it will open up many more employment possibilities.

“It’s been a long time coming,” she said.

That feeling was shared by hundreds of people at UW-Eau Claire’s Zorn Arena, which hosts the CVTC graduation each fall and spring.

CVTC honored 626 graduates in 47 different programs Friday night, with 375 graduates receiving associate degrees and 251 receiving technical diplomas. On Thursday night, CVTC honored 67 graduates at its River Falls campus, including 60 receiving associate degrees and seven receiving technical diplomas.

The most popular programs among this spring’s graduates were nursing, with 60 graduates, criminal justice/law enforcement with 54 graduates, and business management with 53.

Among the graduates was Randi Johnson of Eau Claire, in the dental hygienist program, who was chosen as the student speaker. She urged the graduates to get out of their comfort zones.

“Being willing to step out of our comfort zones led us here,” she said. “Now that we’ve gotten to this point in life, we should push ourselves to keep improving. We will feel uncomfortable in the future, whether it’s in an interview for our dream job or buying our first house. But the moments where we feel unsure usually turn out to be the ones that change our lives and help define who we are.“

Featured speaker Paul Gabriel, executive director of the Wisconsin Technical College District Boards Association, put a new twist on the notion of wishing graduates “good luck.“

“For years, I’ve heard graduates refer to themselves as ’lucky’ to have made it here,” he said. “But, what’s luck really got to do with it? … If you feel fortunate to be here, it’s not luck at all. It’s the success that you have created for yourself.“


From “Dentists warn of high acidity in some energy drinks” — MADISON, Wis. – Popular energy drinks claim to give people hours of energy, but dentists said people may be bathing their teeth in acid when they consume energy drinks.

They come in flashy containers, promising a boost to get you through those long days.

“A lot of people really do sit and just drink this stuff,” said Madison College dental hygiene student Alicia Selzler.

But when the jolt runs dry, new research shows, people are left with are serious hazards to their teeth.

“I used to drink these in high school myself,” said Selzler. “And I always wanted to do hygiene, but I never really thought of what this is actually doing to my teeth until I saw this.”

Selzler is no stranger to sugar’s destructive path, but the experiment she’s conducting with her classmates at Madison College examines the acid content of energy drinks.

“The citric acid is the one ingredient that we noticed that if it was listed near the top of the ingredient list, that was one of those solutions we knew we were going to get a low pH,” said Marcy LeFave, Madison College dental hygiene faculty member.

On a pH scale, a reading of 7 is neutral, like water. The lower the number, the more acidic the chemical. Students measured the pH of a variety of drinks. Coffee and milk showed pH scores of around 5 and 6, respectively. Root beer was around 4.

But a sugar-free bottle of Vitamin Water Zero showed a high level of acidity in a test, Selzler said.

“It’s actually Vitamin Water Zero,” said Selzler. “It’s showing a pH of 3.15. So the pH of that product is really, really low.”

The energy drink in the experiment logged a pH close to 3 as well. Battery acid reads -1 on the pH scale.

And with the popularity of these types of drinks, researchers said it’s only a matter of time before a rising number of dentists expend more of their energy on tooth decay.

“The problem is they sip on them throughout the day.” said LeFave. “So they’re constantly bathing their teeth in a solution that is 3.0. We even find some that are 2.5 pH. So we know those are very acidic.”

“I always tell my patients, and I’ve learned from my hygienist and my teachers, if you sip all day, you get decay,” said Selzler, “So this is kind of what we like to show people, the acid and what it’s all doing.”

With sugar, the decay process begins after the sugar reacts with the bacteria in a person’s mouth to produce the acid that eventually gets to his or her teeth. When drinking energy drinks high in citric acid, it skips the sugar-bacteria chemical reaction completely. Researchers said the citric acid could damage a person’s teeth faster.


From “ULM to offer bachelor of science in dental hygiene to Wisconsin students” — The University of Louisiana at Monroe is expanding its dental hygiene program by helping educate students at Northcentral Technical College in Wisconsin.

A new articulation agreement was announced Thursday that will allow students who have completed an associate degree in dental hygiene at NTC to earn their bachelor of science degree in two more years by taking online courses through ULM.

ULM President Nick Bruno said the 2+2 agreement will benefit both institutions by bringing more exposure to ULM and by allowing NTC students to earn a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene from ULM in only two years.

“To see an institution from that far away actually want to partner with us to further train their students is quite a compliment. It speaks volumes about the quality of the program,” he said.

Bruno said the partnership will help increase student enrollment at ULM and allow students from a different part of the country to experience the university.

The partnership will also be cost-effective, Bruno said, because ULM will not have to provide the clinical component of the curriculum, which NTC students will have already taken in order to receive their associate degree.

Bruno commended the university faculty who helped make the partnership possible.

“Their efforts to reach out, not just within the state, to partner with other institutions allow us to further our higher education mission beyond our borders, which is important for Louisiana and ULM’s reputation and image,” he said.

NTC is also excited about the partnership, said Suzi Mathias, director of Transfer & Placement at NTC.

Mathias said the average age of NTC students is around 33, meaning they are primarily nontraditional students who likely intend to stay in the community, which is why the partnership with ULM’s online dental hygiene program is a “good match.”

Additionally, Mathias said the nearest university, which is about 40 miles away, does not offer a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene.

“We are always looking for ways we can hopefully meet the needs of our learners in getting their four-year degrees,” she said. “This partnership will give big advantage to our nontraditional students because they will be able to stay in the community and continue to work in this area while also advancing their education. To me, it’s a perfect relationship and hopefully this will help feed people into ULM at the same time.”

ULM’s dental hygiene program was implemented 40 years ago by Beverly Jarrell, who still heads the department. The program was created in effort to train more dental hygienists to provide improved oral health care in rural communities in northeastern Louisiana.

From greenbaypressgazette: “Kids brush up on oral health” — Zachary Zeutzius wore an oversized lab coat, goggles and gloves as he pretended to be a dentist.

Meanwhile, his classmates stood side-by-side to form a row of teeth he carefully brushed.

The activity was part of a program aimed at showing the importance of proper dental hygiene. Experts say children with severe tooth issues struggle in school, may have disciplinary issues and often end up in the emergency room.

Zeutzius and his fellow 4-year-old kindergarten classmates at Beaumont Elementary School in Green Bay learned to brush and floss twice a day, and to visit the dentist twice a year.

Dental Associates visited about 23 schools in the Green Bay area and worked with more than 1,200 students in February as part of the effort.

“The idea is to help them get in the habit early,” said Amy Buelow, a dental assistant at Dental Associates who helped conduct the program. “What we like to do is reach out to kids.”

The Green Bay School District also receives help on the effort from the Brown County Oral Health Partnership. The nonprofit works on developing and maintaining a coordinated system of dental care and education for low-income uninsured and underinsured children and adults in Brown County.

In addition, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College runs a dental prevention program that correlates with its dental hygienist curriculum in summer and fall. The focus of the program is providing oral health education and offering some dental preventative care for students in the Green Bay School District and Door County, according to Sheila Gross, an instructor and director of the dental hygienist program.

Dental hygienist students provide education and place dental sealants on students’ teeth at elementary schools using portable dental equipment.

The summer program, using grant money, also provides dental cleanings, X-rays, sealants and fluoride, Gross said.

The goal of the grant is to provide services to about 100 elementary students in summer and 300 elementary or Head Start students in fall. Program conductors typically see students whose families qualify for medical assistance, she said.

“The level of decay we often see is modest to severe,” Gross said. “If it isn’t treated, they probably will end up in the ER.”

A recent national report shows the number of ER visits for dental problems increased 16 percent from 2006 to 2009. The report, conducted by the Pew Center on the States, indicates the trend could be continuing.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, more than 50 percent of children have some sort of decay before they are 5. In addition, a report from the Office of the Surgeon General notes that more than 51 million school hours are lost each year because of dental-related conditions.

Gross said that a child who is in chronic pain could be distracted from class, could be disruptive or may not even be in the class.

“They could stay home if they feel bad enough,” she said. “It definitely impacts the learning environment.”

Maria Vasquez, who also helped conduct the session at Beaumont, said culture also can have an impact.

“A lot of times, when you get kids from other countries, this is the first time they’re taken to the dentist,” she said. “The parents are not educated. And the children have severe issues because they haven’t been to a dentist.”

That’s why education is important, the women said.

“If we can reach them in the early years, we can create lifelong learning patterns,” Buelow said.

Beaumont Elementary students received a packet including a toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, a mask, gloves and more.

Teacher Deb Yeager said dental hygiene is part of her students’ curriculum.

“These kids are very receptive to learning,” she said. “They learn to eat healthy, brush and floss. That you need to visit the dentist.”

From “Residents are heading to the ER instead of the dentist for tooth problems” — Eau Claire (WQOW) – A health care need is playing out in the ER, but perhaps not the way you think.

Last month, there were 57 visits to the ER at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire for oral health problems.  The hospital says that number has been fairly consistent the past few years.

“It’s pretty common, it’s usually one or two a shift,” says Dr. Chris Felton, Sacred Heart Hospital Emergency Medicine Physician.

However, there’s little Felton can do.

“For a typical toothache we’ll place them on an oral antibiotic and an oral pain medicine,” says Felton.  “Sometimes we can perform a dental block depending on the location of the tooth involved.”

The dental hygiene program at Chippewa Valley Technical College is a low-cost option.

“We can provide oral surgery services, endodontic which is root canal service, we do some limited crowns if they’re approved, we do cleanings,” says Pam Entorf, CVTC Dental Hygiene Program Director.

CVTC says it’s seeing an increase in numbers, up to 200 patients a week not including cleanings.  Both the college and hospital say it boils down to a lack of dental coverage.

“I have seen this, just in general, is patients I would see in a private office that had dental insurance, have lost their job, lost their insurance, haven’t been to the dentist for several years because they couldn’t afford to go,” says Entorf.

“We’re happy to see anyone that wants to be seen, but there are a number of patients that don’t have dental coverage and could be more efficiently managed if they were able to get in to see a dentist,”  says Felton.

Dental health can play a big part in overall health.

“The oral health and systemic health or overall body health, if you have an infection in your mouth it can cause all kinds of negative things,” says Entorf.

CVTC says of their patients, six to 12 a month are referrals from ER’s.  Entorf says they try to get them in that day or the next.

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From “Development of dental care programs at Nicolet continues” —  Nicolet Area Technical College is on track to begin offering two new dental care programs to students beginning with the spring 2013 semester. That’s according to Kenneth Urban, vice president of Teaching, Learning and Student Success, who discussed the potential implementation date for the new offerings as part of a report to Nicolet’s board of trustees Tuesday night.

The board previously approved the scope proposal for the new programs at its November meeting — a two-year dental hygienist associate degree and a one-semester dental assistant program. That proposal awaits approval from the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) board, and is only a preliminary analysis of the potential demand for the dental care programs and rough cost estimates. Once that is complete, Urban told board members that a more detailed proposal on the course offerings themselves would be coming before them in March. State approval would then be expected in May.

“We haven’t set an implementation date,” Urban said. “A lot will depend on when the facilities are done. We need (state) approval on the programs before we can start marketing them.”

The plan is to house the dental care offerings in the new Peter Christensen Dental Clinic currently being constructed in Lac du Flambeau. That facility will provide Nicolet with the classroom space and equipment needed for the programs, leaving only instructor salaries as the sole cost the college will have to take on.

Nicolet President Elizabeth Burmaster said she and other college officials have already budgeted for two instructors for the programs to start in the fall. They will be responsible for getting the programs officially accredited. The actual curriculum has already been established within the WTCS. Eight of the 16 WTCS technical colleges currently offer the two-year dental hygienist associate degree.

“Every one of them has a waiting list,” Urban said. “There’s a huge need for this.”

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