By Joel Hall
Since opening in 1969, the Clayton State University Dental Hygiene Clinic has been old-fashioned.
For example, X-ray film, rather than digital imagining, has been used to take photographs of patients' teeth. Rather than an electronic database of patient records, information has been hand-written and kept in large folders.
A recent $40,000 grant from the Mary Allen Lindsey Branan Foundation -- a charitable fund facilitated by Wachovia Trust -- will enable the clinic to update its dental equipment, and assist in the clinic's renovation.
Reda Rowell, development director at Clayton State University, authored the grant proposal for the $40,000. She said the money is a good start for the $800,000 worth of the renovations the Dental Hygiene Clinic hopes to make over the next several years.
"The renovation of the dental clinic had been identified as a major need of the university," said Rowell. "Right now we are limited in the amount of students we can submit to the program, because we have a limited amount of space in which they can practice."
The clinic has 14 dental chairs to seat patients. Thus, only 28 students are able to be admitted to the four-year, bachelor of science program in dental hygiene every year. The clinic hopes to add six more dental chairs, which will increase the number it can accept to 40 per year.
"We hope to be able to raise more, but [the grant] is initially to fund some of the small tools they need," said Rowell. "We plan to write other grants and to have a specific fund-raising campaign to do the whole project. [The grant is] the first step in achieving he enhancements that we need."
Susan Duley, department head of the Dental Hygiene Clinic, said the grant will allow the clinic to move toward a "paperless" system, by updating its handwritten patient charts to the Dentrix Dental System, the current standard of cataloging and transmitting dental data.
The system will allow patients -- who come in for cleanings, X-rays, and other non-surgical procedures -- to have their records sent with a click of a button to dentists and dental surgeons when more complicated procedures are necessary.
Duley said the grant also will be "seed money" for other improvements, such as digital radiography -- a method of filming the teeth using digital imaging rather than X-ray film.
"We want to use current technology that our students find when they go out to work," said Duley. "Our students graduate and find those systems in place ... they need to know how to use them."
Duley also wants to move the clinic into a larger building on campus, but until then, the grant will help the clinic stay current with the technology other dental clinics are using.
Trung Ngyuen, a junior dental hygiene student, said the grant would help make his job easier and create improvements that attract more students to the program.
"It will give us a lot more resources to learn how to work in the real world," said Ngyuen. "We'll learn the same techniques," but "it helps a lot with speed and time."