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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Field of dentistry sees change

NE dental hygiene students Jovanna Martinez and Lavin Tran fill out evaluation forms during their Dental Assisting Clinical class. The students had just participated in clinicals over the Dec. 5 weekend. Hope Sandusky/The Collegian
NE dental hygiene students Jovanna Martinez and Lavin Tran fill out evaluation forms during their Dental Assisting Clinical class. The students had just participated in clinicals over the Dec. 5 weekend.

Hope Sandusky/The Collegian

By Brandy Voirin/ reporter

Reading a newspaper, Debby Foley unlocked a major piece of her story —an ad for the dental assistant program at TCC. 

“I started in banking and discovered that wasn’t for me,” she said. “After a few days in the dental assistant program, I knew I had made the right decision.”

NE dental hygiene students Jovanna Martinez and Lavin Tran fill out evaluation forms during their Dental Assisting Clinical class. The students had just participated in clinicals over the Dec. 5 weekend. Hope Sandusky/The Collegian
NE dental hygiene students Jovanna Martinez and Lavin Tran fill out evaluation forms during their Dental Assisting Clinical class. The students had just participated in clinicals over the Dec. 5 weekend.
Hope Sandusky/The Collegian

Foley, who graduated in 2003 and is a practicing clinical dental assistant, said she has seen a lot of positive changes.

“X-rays used to take some time because of film development. Now, it’s done digitally,” she said. “Crowns have changed, too. No longer are we using silver fillings or taking two weeks for a root canal.”

Implants are also being sculpted instantly, and the materials dental offices are using are more deluxe, she said.

“But the best part of my job is changing people’s lives,” she said. “Their self-esteem is forever changed with good dentistry, similar to how my life was changed when I found my purpose.”

Graduating in 1992, alumna Paula Medford tried to find her fit as a dental assistant, but it wasn’t an exact match.

“School was great, but once in the office, it was burnout,” she said. “But I liked the sales reps who sold to the dentist at the office. Now, that job looked fun.”

Medford sold copiers to pay the rent.

She sent out resume after resume with no prospects. Finally, after two years, a door opened for a clinical supply representative.

“My training at TCC was instrumental in helping open the doors as a clinical dental sales rep,” she said. “Without the school, I would have never been in a dental office to see what kind of job I wanted.”

Dentistry isn’t the only thing that’s changed. The dental assistant program has changed too in the past 25 years.

From requirements of 400 credit hours to 700 credit hours to the number of instructors on campus, it’s all changed.

In the beginning, dental assistant program coordinator Laurie Semple taught every single class.

“I’ve done so many marvelous things, but I still can’t believe I’ve made this into a career,” she said. “It started because the doctors had a need for dental assistants, and TCC stepped up to serve.”

In the past 25 years, TCC has graduated approximately 1,000 students. Eighty are still working in the field, and one is a practicing dentist, Semple said.

“And that’s what dentistry is all about, serving others,” she said.

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