Bulletin of Dental Education

Pacific University’s Mouthguard Clinic Provides Unique Experience for Students

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The Pacific University School of Dental Hygiene Studies (DHS) established its Mouthguard Clinic in 2017. The Mouthguard Clinic is a unique service-learning opportunity for students in DHS. Student athletes from Pacific University come to the Dental Hygiene Clinic where DHS students take their dental impressions and move through the complete fabrication process in the lab—stone pour up, thermo-forming and trimming. To date, DHS has fabricated 242 mouthguards for Pacific University athletes. In the first two years, clinics served the Pacific University football team. Now the clinics have now grown to include other athletes from the university, including players from the men’s basketball and women’s lacrosse teams. 

The original idea for this clinic came from a senior capstone project. All senior students are required to complete a capstone project to graduate, working in teams of two or three. Zach Young and Logan LaFontaine (DHS class of 2017) developed an educational session on the importance of mouthguard use in contact sports, which they presented to a variety of Pacific University athletes. After their presentation, Mr. Young suggested that a mouthguard clinic would be a good service opportunity for the university’s athletes. The first mouthguard clinic occurred in August 2017, and it was a huge success.  

The clinic is highly beneficial for both the dental hygiene students and the athletes. The dental hygiene students gain experience with impressions and fabrication, and the players receive professionally made mouthguards for a low cost ($11 per guard through AY19-20 since the clinic only charges for the cost of materials). Faculty have seen students’ impression and fabrication skills drastically improve. Their ability to self-assess the quality of their impressions and to produce high-quality mouthguards demonstrate the learning utility of the Mouthguard Clinic.

This model of service-learning would be easy to implement at other schools. In the absence of athletic teams, this type of clinic could be run as a community service event for a local high school team. The lab equipment is the same as that needed to fabricate bleach trays, just using the thicker mouthguard material. 

The schools looks forward to continuing the partnership with the Pacific University Athletic Department with future clinics. Feedback from the players has been extremely positive—the mouthguards are much more comfortable, fit better and are easier to breathe around (the primary complaints associated with non-compliance in use of boil-and-bite guards). The Mouthguard Clinics have been a fun and energizing way for DHS students to serve the university community. 

Courtesy of Kathryn Bell, RDH, EPDH, M.S., Associate Dean for Interprofessional Education, Pacific University School of Dental Hygiene Studies

Published on March 11, 2020

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