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While you were dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, your teeth may not have been at the top of your concerns.

But for Daytona State College’s dental hygiene students, teeth are pretty important. Especially since the students have to get experience cleaning teeth before they can earn their official certification.

“It’s always been a struggle to find enough patients,” DSC dental hygiene student Amanda Rohde told The Beacon. “But it’s [COVID-19] definitely made it that much harder, because people have been skeptical.”

The dental hygiene students have taken COVID-19 precautions very seriously though, Rohde said. From masks and gloves to temperature checks and regular hand-sanitizing, precautions are still in place.

“We’ve taken every precaution possible to prevent anything from happening,” Rohde said.

Rohde is finishing up her final semester at DSC’s DeLand campus in the dental hygiene program. Like many of her classmates, she is still in need of patients to complete the clinical requirements that will get her one step closer to being a licensed dental hygienist.

The college is typically able to supply the dental hygiene students with enough patients; things always work out in the end, but, this year, the students are in need of more teeth to clean.

“They just can’t possibly provide us with all of the patients in the world,” she said. 

That struggle has intensified as people all over are less keen on having other people’s hands in their mouths.

“We have to have new patients who haven’t had their teeth cleaned in at least a year, or a few months,” Rohde said. “We’re not at the risk of not graduating. It’s just a struggle to find people when you need them.”

To meet their requirements, each student must see a certain number of patients — 16, in Rohde’s case — and also must clean a particular number of, as Rohde described them, “quadrants.” 

In the world of dental hygiene, a person’s mouth is divided into four quadrants: two on the top of the mouth and two on the bottom. At Rohde’s level — the quotas increase as students progress through the two-year program — she has to clean 20 quadrants of Class A teeth, 22 quadrants of Class B, and 10 quadrants each of Class C and Class D.

Class A teeth have a low amount of dental calculus (also known as tartar), Class B has more tartar, and so on. Who knew?

In short, they need more mouths. Especially mouths with plenty of tartar.

Anyone who goes in to get their teeth cleaned by DSC’s students, Rohde said, will receive a top-notch cleaning and then have their teeth inspected by a professor to check the student’s work.

“They’re near, but they’re not hovering over the entire time,” she said.

Individuals interested in getting their teeth cleaned may visit the DeLand campus, Building 6A, 1155 County Road 4139, from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday. 

Cleanings cost $20, and payments must be made by cash or check only.

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