Bulletin of Dental Education

Local Oral Health Event Sets Students Up for Success

 Permanent link   All Posts

Maureen Strauss, M.S., RDH, CDA, a professor at Middlesex Community College (MCC), spearheaded a collaboration between the dental hygiene program at Middlesex Community College (MCC), Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan, Lowell Public Schools, Lowell Community Health Center, and the International Institute of New England.

The driving force was outreach from the district attorney to address oral health as an integral part of children’s success in school, as untreated tooth decay and infection can lead to poor behavior, illness and absence in school. This effort is part of a larger initiative led by the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office’s racial equity and social justice initiatives to decrease the school to prison pipeline.

Middlesex CC_Photo Collage_Dec 22 BDE

Prof. Strauss created a service-learning project with second year dental hygiene students to address these needs in collaboration with the above-stated agencies. She received funding from multiple sources to support this project including the Middlesex Community College Foundation, the American Dental Association’s Give Kids A Smile®Program, as well as donations from Henry Schein, Inc.

Through these donations, and the service learning of the MCC dental hygiene students, this project provided approximately $95,000 of free oral health care to children in the greater Lowell area. This included second- and fifth-graders in Lowell Public Schools, in addition to children who had recently fled Afghanistan with their families.  

The following free services were provided:

  • Health promotion and education to 2,950 individuals,
  • Interactive classroom education to almost 800 children,
  • Oral screenings to 500 children,
  • Over 250 sealants,
  • 90 fluoride varnishes,
  • 4 treatments of silver diamine fluoride and
  • Over 30 dental radiographs.

Through this project, the MCC dental hygiene students learned the value and importance of community and public health. They have also learned tools for implementing similar projects in their own professional lives to have a positive impact. Prof. Strauss also involved other MCC colleagues, in addition to dental assisting students from MCC and a local regional vocational high school. This promotes the principle of collaboration for the good of the community and the importance of interprofessional collaboration.

Prof. Strauss has a true passion and expertise for community health and wellness, which has been apparent throughout her career in the MCC Dental Hygiene Department. She gives much of her personal time and energy to the success of this program. Prof. Strauss received both local and statewide recognition this year for her extraordinary contributions to public service. As part of the 2022 Performance Recognition Program, she is the recipient of the Manuel Carballo Governor's Award for Excellence in Public Service. This is the first time an MCC employee has been chosen for this statewide recognition.

Courtesy of the Middlesex Community College Dental Hygiene Department

Published on December 14, 2022 

Duggan ad 2013