The mixture of soft music and whirring noise of ultrasonic cleaners fill the air in the dental hygiene clinic at West Campus.
Del Mar’s Dental Hygiene Program had over 100 students complete applications to join, with only 24 spots available.
“This program is very challenging, that’s for sure,” said Eva Sepulveda, director of dental programs.
The program offers free dental services to the public, with the benefit for students being more hands-on training.
“Patient care is our main focus right now,” Sepulveda said. “This semester is when they start to see patients that are a bit more difficult, such as patients with periodontal disease. The patients can receive dental hygiene cleanings, X-rays and sealants.”
Sepulveda’s interest in dental care started when she was in high school.
“I had really crooked teeth and that bothered me,” Sepulveda said. “I’d see other kids with braces, and that wasn’t an option my parents could pay for back then. It all started by looking at other people’s teeth because I was so self-conscious about mine.”
Dental student Angelica Tolento said she enjoys working on patients.
“Ever since I had been going to my dental hygienist when I was younger, she always made me feel comfortable and excited to get my teeth cleaned,” Tolento said. “I just want to be that person for someone else.”
Courtney Schmidt, another student in the program, said practicing on real people can present challenges.
“The reason I wanted to by a hygienist was because I had great experiences when I went to my dental hygienist, and when I got into this I assumed everyone would have similar mouths like mine,” Schmidt said. “It’s a little shocking with patients sometimes.”
Sepulveda recommends for people to be more mindful of their oral care at home.
“Floss at least once a day, brush at least twice a day, and please see your dentist at least every six months,” Sepulveda said. “I suggest soft toothbrushes and make sure any dental product you use has the ADA seal of approval.”
Patients can schedule an appointment by calling 361-698-2854 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.