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Grants propel dental students

$3,500 fund seniors’ projects at Iowa Central Community College

February 15, 2010
By EMILIE NELSON, Messenger staff writer

Two groups of Iowa Central Community College dental hygiene students have recently been awarded $3,500 grants from Delta Dental to promote and improve oral health in the community.

Seniors Jill Miller, Toni Peters, Ashley Ehlers, Brittany Arwine and Kelsey Keefer all submitted applications and an outline of their proposed plan and how it would be beneficial to the community. In return, they received the grants to provide the necessary supplies and educational tools to complete their service projects, which are a requirement to graduate from the dental hygiene program at Iowa Central.

For Miller, Peters and Ehlers, the goal of their project was to provide athletes with custom fit mouthguards for use in contact sports.

Article Photos

Iowa Central Community College Dental Hygiene students, from left, Toni Peters, Ashley Ehlers and Jill Miller show some of the items purchased with their $3,500 Delta Dental grant used to complete their community project. The group made custom-fit mouthguards for athletes at Manson Northwest Webster High School.

"Together we brainstormed, and we knew we wanted to do something that was a little unique but that there was still a need for," said Miller.

After sending notifications out to area schools, the group chose to provide the mouthguards to student athletes at Manson Northwest Webster High School.

"With them being a smaller school, they just had a good number of athletes that we could provide mouthguards for," said Peters.

All basketball, football and wrestling participants at MNW will receive a new mouthguard.

Before being able to distribute the mouthguards, Miller, Peters and Ehlers traveled to Manson to do fittings for the mouthguards and took impressions of each athlete's top teeth to help give the mouthguards a closer fit.

"The custom guards provide a closer, more secure fit in the athletes mouths," Miller said.

Renee Piper, Iowa Central dental hygiene program coordinator said the mouthguards will help prevent a number of injuries caused by contact on the basketball court, football field and wrestling mat. They also prevent concussions and provide better ease of speech as they are worn.

Each MNW student was also educated on the use of the mouthguards and given a pre-test and post-test to go along with the dental students' presentation.

For Arwine and Keefer's project, the grant will be used for their project, called "Oral Health Equals Overall Health."

In addition to the $3,500 grant, Delta Dental also provided them with 50 Sonicare battery powered toothbrushes to be used as part of their oral health study on residents of the Marian Home.

"We're educating the staff and residents at the Marian Home on how their overall health is related to their oral health," Arwine said. "We're showing them how it can effect diabetes and respiratory and heart disease."

With their project Arwine and Keefer took the plaque scores of residents, and provided them with toothbrushes -half with regular brushes and the other half with the Sonicare brushes - to use every day.

After a few weeks of using the new toothbrushes, Keefer and Arwine will return to the Marian home to conduct another plaque score to see if one type of toothbrush performs better than the other.

Each group of students completing a community project will present their project and its findings to the class at the end of the semester.

Contact Emilie Nelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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