NAU and Fortis College students

Students from Northern Arizona University and Fortis College-Phoenix pose at the Wesley Community Health Center after their dental hygiene clinic for families at the center.

Students from Northern Arizona University and Fortis College-Phoenix recently partnered on a cross-disciplinary community service project promoting good oral health to an underserved Arizona community.

The partnership brought together NAU’s physician assistant students and Fortis’ dental hygiene students as hosts of a dental hygiene clinic for a low-income community in central Phoenix.

“Primary care providers like physician assistants often see children under the age of 5 years well before they may first see the dentist,” said Michelle DiBaise, associate clinical professor of NAU physician assistant studies, based in Phoenix. “Understanding the importance of good oral health, teaching how to prevent cavities and the application of fluoride varnish are important and necessary skills for all health care providers.”

The project kicked off with a hands-on training session by Fortis College students, who showed NAU’s physician assistant students how to apply fluoride varnish. After perfecting their techniques, both groups of students invited families from the Wesley Community Health Center in Phoenix to participate in voluntary oral health screenings and fluoride varnish application.

Together, the students provided free preventative oral health care services to nearly 50 patients.

“Working with the dental hygiene students gave our students the opportunity to learn these valuable skills while reaching out to patients in this underserved community of central Phoenix,” DiBaise said.