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CT State Tunxis dental hygiene student Autumn Gardner, of East Hampton, reviews a radiograph in the campus dental lab. She is scheduled to graduate in May.

Community service lies at the core of the CT State Community College (CT State) Tunxis dental hygiene program, where students work in community health centers, clinics, and skilled nursing facilities to provide oral health services to patients under the guidance of registered dental hygienist faculty.

Over the past year, 22 Tunxis dental hygiene students have collectively treated over 1,700 patients. Their community outreach extends to Hartford Public Schools, where they conduct screenings and provide oral health education to children.

In the program, students undergo comprehensive training in an on-campus lab, including how to assess and document patients’ oral health, administering preventive dental care and anesthesia, and providing education on oral health improvement techniques. Soon after, they venture to clinical sites across the state, serving underserved populations such as children, the elderly, and those lacking dental insurance.

Among the locations, UConn Health’s Dental Clinic stands out as a key partner for the program, maintaining a 45-year collaboration. The clinic offers reduced-price cleanings and care for individuals without insurance or with HUSKY.

“There is a significant demand for oral health care providers in Connecticut and nationwide,” notes CT State Tunxis dental hygiene program coordinator Patricia Johnson Lane, Ed.D., R.D.H., emphasizing factors like an aging population and workforce disruptions during the pandemic. She highlighted the program as a great path for individuals who enjoy caring for people and preventing diseases beyond oral health, with lucrative career prospects and salaries exceeding $100,000. “I am frequently contacted by dentists in the Northeast inquiring about our graduates,” she added, noting the program's 100% job placement rate.

Since 2008, students completing the program uninterrupted have achieved a perfect 100% pass rate on licensing exams.

“Oral health and preventive education is my passion— helping people be more aware of what they can do and how much oral health relates to the rest of the body,” said Autumn Gardner, an adult second-year dental hygiene student from East Hampton. “Tunxis has prepared me well for real-world application of my skills,” she added. Classes, faculty and fellow students have helped her build confidence as a first-time college student who started in her late thirties. She took her prerequisite classes at CT State Three Rivers before transferring to Tunxis for dental hygiene. “You get to meet and help so many people out in the community. It’s a lot of work, but you get so much out of it, so it’s worth the work.”

In another initiative, during the upcoming spring break in March, several students and faculty will collaborate with health care providers from a private Connecticut university to deliver dental care to school children in Great Harbor Cay, Bahamas, where access to dental care is limited.

Accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, CT State Tunxis in Farmington stands as the sole public college in the state offering a degree in dental hygiene. The program maintains special admissions requirements and application deadlines.

For those who are interested in the program, virtual dental hygiene information sessions will be held April 12 and May 3 at 10 a.m. For more information, visit


About Student Dental Hygiene Services for the Community

CT State Tunxis dental hygiene students offer evening appointments from September to May at UConn School of Dental Medicine. Dental hygiene services may include cleaning, fluoride treatment, X-rays, sealants, nutritional counseling, oral hygiene instruction, oral cancer screenings and referrals. All students are supervised by faculty who are licensed dental professionals.

The dental hygiene clinic accepts direct pay, as well as Medicaid and HUSKY A and B plans. To make an appointment, call 860-773-1681 Monday through Thursday during the academic year, August 25 to May 1.

For Immediate Release: 22 February 2024
Contact: Melissa Lamar, Director of Media & Public Relations
W: 860.773.1407