Dental students start preventative dentistry unit Sophomores learn the skills and techniques with at-home practice

Students enrolled in the Dental Assisting program are utilizing their learned skills at home by brushing their own teeth. This not only helps them practice, but also ensures that they are hygienic. “The Dental Assisting program has helped me learn more about dentistry and gets me closer to my dreams. Even the little things like brushing my teeth gives me practice,” Wendy Ramirez, a sophomore, said. Photo Credit: Wendy Ramirez

After the sudden closure of all CCSD schools that left students and teachers unable to finish the year, the Dental Assisting program, like others, have finally been able to get back into their curriculum.

Sophomores in Kirsten Winfield’s Dental Science II class are currently learning about preventative dentistry, a branch that deals with the education and prevention of disease in the mouth. She says that this unit is crucial for her students because it applies to real-world situations.

“I want to make sure that [my students] are giving the best care possible to all of their patients,” she said. “I want to make sure [my students] are educating them in their oral health care, and we want to make sure they are comfortable in the dental office and in the dental atmosphere.”

With the hands-on nature of dentistry contrasting with the transition to online education, Winfield has decided to move her teachings to theory. However, she says that she is prepared to have her students practice skills at-home.

“Most of the stuff, since we are hands-on, is going to focus around theory,” she said. “But there are tricks that I have up my sleeve. There are some fun activities that I have for [my students] that may require them to use things around their house.”

Ryan Tran, a second-year student in her dental class, says he is looking forward to the at-home activities. 

“I’m excited for the activities since we won’t be able to do anything in the labs,” he said. “I want to see if it’s actually worth doing or not because using the dental chairs was going to be the best lab this year. I was really looking forward to it, but I am anticipating that Ms. Winfield will bring something exciting to the table to make up for the lack of labs.”

Even with the obstacles due to the transition to online schooling presents, Winfield says she is excited to start off the school year once again with her students. 

“I actually passed all of my stuff to [Cynthia] Wong [last year], but I did make it through everything I wanted to teach,” she said. “However, handing it over to a sub, I feel like it caused starting off this school year by reteaching things, which is good because I do want to see where my students were at this year.”

After the unit on preventative dentistry, Winfield says she wants to teach her students important units in infection control. She says that these units will help her students when they eventually work in labs.

“Right now, we are going to move forward as much as we can,” she said. “We are going to learn a little bit more about disease transmission, techniques of disinfection, principles of disinfection, ergonomics, waste management. So all the tools we can get under your belt that will help you once we get back into the classroom, we’re going to have to focus on.”

She advises students who are struggling to take everything one step at a time and to reach out to their teachers for help.

 “Never feel like you can’t reach out and ask us questions,” she said. “That’s what we are here. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, please don’t hesitate to ask. We believe in you. You guys are amazing, and we are so grateful to be your teachers this year. We know it’s crazy, but we’re gonna get through this, so take it one step at a time.”

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