Bulletin of Dental Education

Surge in Dental Hygiene Applicants Pushes St. Louis Community College to Expand Program Campuses

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The future is bright for the Dental Hygiene Program at St. Louis Community College (STLCC). The program moved into the college’s new Center for Nursing and Health Sciences building on the Forest Park Campus in fall 2019 after a more than 50-year stint at its previous location. The new facility, characterized by its brightness and beauty, is equipped with cutting-edge technology to offer students and patients an exceptional experience.

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The St. Louis Community College Center for Nursing & Health Sciences at the Forest Park Campus.

Positioned on the first floor, the STLCC Dental Hygiene Program features a 30-unit clinic, sterilization room, five radiology rooms, a reception area and waiting room, a dental lab, two classrooms, a student locker room, a faculty locker room/lunchroom and an office suite housing seven spaces capable of accommodating up to 12 faculty members.

After four years in this facility, interest in the program has surged beyond its capacity. In fact, the post-pandemic waitlist for enrolling 32 students annually has expanded to nearly 150 students.  

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STLCC is an open access college. This means that all students who meet the minimum requirements are placed on the waitlist. Even after increasing enrollment to 40 students this fall, 110 students remain on the waitlist. 

Recognizing the pressing need for licensed dental hygienists within the greater St. Louis dental community, STLCC is responding by constructing a new Center for Nursing and Health Sciences on the Florissant Valley Campus. Just like on the Forest Park Campus, this expanded dental hygiene program will occupy the entire first floor and adopt a similar layout. The new educational facility, set to open in 2025, will also be capable of enrolling 32 students. Once the new facility opens, Forest Park will go back to enrolling 32 students annually.  

STLCC_FV Campus Rendering_Sept 2023 BDE

Rendering of the St. Louis Community College’s new Center for Nursing and Health Sciences on the Florissant Valley Campus.

Dental Hygiene Program Director Kim Polk has submitted multiple reports to the Commission on Dental Accreditation documenting the process and plans for this expansion. As the program grows, additional teaching opportunities for adjunct and full-time faculty are being added.

As the only dental hygiene program in the eastern half of the state, STLCC is leading the way in graduating professionally qualified dental hygienists who will be on the forefront of providing preventive care to the citizens of Missouri and beyond. 

Courtesy of Kim K. Polk, RDH, M.Ed., Dental Hygiene Program Director, St. Louis Community College Center for Nursing and Health Sciences

Published on September 13, 2023

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