FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – The Florence-Darlington Technical College has received a health priority grant of $ 100,000 from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of South Carolina for its dental hygiene and dental assisting programs.
Alicia Johnston, director of the program, said the grant funded new devices such as x-rays and sterilization equipment. She hopes this will help not only the students, but the community as a whole.
Johnston said the FDTC community dental clinic is already treating around 1,500 patients. She expects the grant to allow the university to contribute several hundred more.
“I just took a look at our needs and those of the community, and I realized we could kill two birds with one stone,” said Johnston.
She said the clinic mainly focuses on people without insurance.
“The gist of the grant is to serve the community by allowing those who cannot afford dental care elsewhere to come here and receive free preventative dental care,” said Johnston.
One of its main goals with the grant is to expand access to dental services for children.
“We’re really focused on the kids who have nowhere to go,” said Johnston. “There are a lot of children who have never been to the dentist. Many people don’t know that their children need to see a dentist very soon.
Before students can work on patients, they practice each other and typodonts – a model of a mouth with 3D printed or cadaveric teeth.
“This way, students can learn to take x-rays safely without exposing themselves to radiation,” said Johnston.
The clinic’s typodonts will also be upgraded with the grant. Johnston hopes these upgrades will help his students better prepare for the workforce.
“I think this will dramatically increase the quality of education,” said Johnston.
The Community Dental Clinic is open Tuesdays and Thursdays at the FDTC Health Sciences Campus in downtown Florence. Services such as oral cancer screenings and cleanings are available free of charge.