New MCC teaching facility, dental clinic opens

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published October 6, 2021

 On Sept. 17, Barbara Ellis leads a tour through the new dental facility with Warren Mayor Jim Fouts. The students are Lexi Hill, left, of Armada and Willnisha Bridgmon of Clinton Township, right.

On Sept. 17, Barbara Ellis leads a tour through the new dental facility with Warren Mayor Jim Fouts. The students are Lexi Hill, left, of Armada and Willnisha Bridgmon of Clinton Township, right.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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WARREN — The enthusiasm for the new Macomb Community College dental science program could be felt among school officials and local dignitaries who gathered for the facility’s unveiling Sept. 17.

The 12,000-square feet teaching facility and dental clinic, located at the Macomb Community College Park Annex at 27958 College Park Drive — across the street from the South Campus, is designed to prepare students in the dental assisting and dental hygienist fields.

The facility, including the renovation of the building and the purchase and installation of equipment, cost $5.6 million. The college maintains a capital projects fund to address ongoing needs for renovations. That fund covered the costs of the dental facility renovations and equipment.

“For us, it’s about serving our students and serving our community,” Macomb Community College President James Sawyer IV said. “We really wanted to bring something close to home that would benefit our residents.”

The new facility includes 20 stations for training and patient visits, seven X-ray stations, one panoramic X-ray station, and a student education center that includes a student lab with 13 dental simulators, a computer lab with 36 computers and a classroom with 360-degree projection capabilities from the lab and from the teaching station.

The dental assisting program began Aug. 23. The 16-week class is noncredit and is designed to prepare students for an entry-level position as a chairside assistant in a dental office. Noncredit means there are no academic credits attached to the program.

According to college officials, the dental assisting job responsibilities include preparing patients for dental work, sterilizing equipment, preparing instrument trays, collecting and recording patient medical and dental histories, developing dental X-rays and more.

Lexi Hill, 20, of Armada, and Willnisha Bridgmon, 26, of Clinton Township, are among the students in this semester’s dental assisting program.

“It’s going really well,” said Bridgmon, who wants to become a dental hygienist. She was somewhat inspired by her mom to enter the field. “My mom was an orthodontist’s assistant when I was young. I thought that was cool.”

“I really like it. I feel like it’s a good building block,” said Hill, who wants to become a pediatric hygienist.

Sawyer said that there are plans to add a dental hygienist program at Macomb. The program has entered the Commission of Dental Accreditation’s process, and the college’s application is under review. According to college officials, the program’s first cohort is expected to begin in the fall of 2022, pending accreditation approval.

“We’re well positioned to be successful,” Sawyer said.

The pending dental hygienist program is a two-year, full-time program resulting in an associate of applied science degree. The program is designed to prepare students for licensure exams.

The dental hygienist program will include a focus on scaling and root debridement, delivery of local anesthesia, nitrous oxide sedation, applying antibiotic and antimicrobial medications, taking impressions and much more. According to college officials, there is a significant demand for both dental assistants and dental hygienists locally.

Plans are also in the works to provide low-cost preventative dental services for residents. School officials anticipate the clinic to open in January 2023, pending accreditation. The fee structure is under development.

Dr. Christopher Gorecki, the Macomb Dental Society executive director which represents more than 500 dentists in Macomb County, also spoke at last week’s unveiling. He looks forward to what the new facility will bring to the college and the community.

“The hygienists are an integral part of our team. It’s going to be exciting to see all the new graduates,” said Dr. Gorecki, who practices in Warren. “We need to make sure this program is sustainable.”              

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts, in attendance at the opening, was pleased to hear about the low-cost preventative dental services.

“There are a lot of people that can’t afford dental care. Their mouths will be full of smiles instead of holes,” Fouts said. “A lot of health problems with people start in their mouths.”

Barbara Ellis, associate dean of Macomb’s new program, took attendees on a tour of the new facility.

“We are so glad to have you on board with the excitement and the passion you have for this,” Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said to her.

For more information on the dental programs, email dental@macomb.edu or call (586) 286-2097.

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