May 26, 2011 James Revillini

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Close to 100 dental hygiene students, faculty and alumni of Tunxis Community College recently volunteered their services for the Connecticut Mission of Mercy’s (CTMOM) fourth annual clinic at Wilby High School in Waterbury.

The large-scale, multi-chair dental clinic provides free dental care to the underserved and uninsured in Connecticut, and is one of several community based learning experiences in which Tunxis dental hygiene students participate each year.

Tunxis faculty and alumni who are registered dental hygienists provided patient care, while students assisted the hygienists, and helped with set-up, X-rays, oral hygiene instruction, sterilization and triage.

“When we saw the large number of Tunxis alumni who volunteered, it really demonstrated that the Tunxis dental hygiene program teaches a commitment to community involvement that lasts long after our students have graduated,” said Robin Knowles, Tunxis associate professor of dental hygiene, of Farmington, who has led the dental hygiene steering committee for the CTMOM for the past four years with Julie Nocera, Tunxis associate professor of allied health/dental hygiene, of Middletown.

“It’s a great opportunity for our students to become more aware of the unmet need for dental care and learn how important it is to get involved in helping these populations,” Nocera added.

Over 1,800 patients received approximately $1 million of free dental care during the clinic.

CTMOM, which is organized by the Connecticut State Dental Association, travels around the state to identify underserved areas where there are not enough dental practitioners to adequately address the oral health needs of the community.

Tunxis is the only public college in Connecticut to provide a degree program in dental hygiene.

The College, which first opened for classes in October 1970, is celebrating 40 years of education in the Farmington Valley and beyond. From fine arts, health, and technology to liberal arts & sciences programs, Tunxis offers over 60 associate’s degrees and certificates, providing critical thinking and problem-solving skills that prepare students for transfer to bachelor’s degree programs and employment in areas with industry need. Visit Tunxis on the Internet at