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New Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene Program approved for Maui Community College

Dental Hygiene Program will help meet student, county and state needs for dental hygienists and address oral health crisis on Maui

University of Hawaiʻi
Contact:
Carolyn Tanaka, (808) 956-8109
External Affairs & University Relations
Katie McMillan, (808) 984-3549
Maui Community College
Posted: Nov 15, 2007

KAHULUI, Maui, Hawaiʻi — At its monthly meeting held today at Maui Community College, the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents approved the Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene program at Maui Community College. The two-year program prepares students to become dental hygienists and provides a foundation for them to pursue lifelong learning in the field.

"The Dental Hygiene Program will address community needs for improving oral health and provide our students with a fulfilling career in a well-compensated and respected profession. We‘re extremely grateful for all of the support from the County of Maui, State Legislature, and our colleagues around the UH System for this initiative," said Maui Community College Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto.

The Maui Community College Career Ladder in Dental Assisting Certificate and Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene emerged from the oral health crisis on Maui and the need for dental assistants and dental hygienists.

These needs were first presented to the college in 2001, when Maui dentists and healthcare officials estimated that more than 30 percent of Maui residents had inadequate access to dental care. The issues surrounding this estmate are complex, and include lack of fluoridation, inadequate reimbursement for dental care, and a shortage of dental assistants and dental hygienists. A survey of Maui County dentists was also completed and 95 percent indicated a shortage of dental assistants and 94 percent indicated a shortage of dental hygienists.

The Maui Oral Health Initiative became a collaborative effort to address these issues and brought together a number of partners to explore the possibility of a dental auxiliary program at Maui Community College, including the HMSA Foundation, Hawaiʻi Dental Services, Maui County Dental Society, and the Maui County Dental Alliance, which includes the Department of Health, Community Clinic of Maui, Mobile Care Van-Office of Social Ministry of the Catholic Church, Hui No Ke Ola Pono, and the Veteran‘s Administration Center.

Due to this effort, the development of a Certificate of Completion in Dental Assisting has already been accomplished, and the Dental Assisting Program received full seven-year accreditation from the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation in January 2006. The program at Maui Community College is the only accredited dental assisting program in the UH system, and has awarded 52 students with certificates so far.

Establishment of the Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene program is the second step in the Initiative‘s plan. The program will meet student, county and state needs for dental hygienists and will prepare the dental hygiene students to competently provide care to clients of diverse social, economic and cultural backgrounds while demonstrating the academic and clinical knowledge and skills required for the profession.

For more information, visit: http://www.maui.hawaii.edu