Lindsay Argyle M ’15 has plenty of reasons to smile.
The certified dental hygienist officially completed her master’s degree in community health from SUNY Cortland last week when she presented her culminating project on a national award-winning program she helped develop. Her work, which relied on second-year students from SUNY Canton’s dental hygiene program educating schoolchildren in Rome, N.Y., earned recognition from the American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA) earlier this summer at the organization’s annual session in Nashville, Tenn.
The Student Member Community Service Award sponsored by Colgate recognized a collective effort.
“The national award really is a reflection of both the (SUNY Canton) students’ hard work and dedication to their community and the quality education I received at SUNY Cortland,” said Argyle, of Fayetteville, N.Y.
An adjunct instructor in SUNY Canton’s dental hygiene program, housed in Rome, she also serves as the dental hygienist for Family Health Network’s local school health program, educating children throughout Cortland County on the importance of taking care of their teeth and other oral health services.
As Argyle finished all of her other master’s coursework in December, she saw a way for one quality program to fulfill two needs: the service component of a SUNY Canton community health course for undergraduates and her own capstone project at the College. SUNY Cortland Associate Professor of Health Jena Nicols Curtis encouraged Argyle, who collaborated with Kasey Penoyer, the community health instructor at SUNY Canton.
Lindsay Argyle M ’15
“It all went together,” Argyle said. “In my master’s courses at Cortland, I structured the framework to attempt an oral health promotion or tooth brushing program. After collaboration with Kasey and learning of the need for a community outreach program for the Canton students, I thought, why not structure one program that combines the two?”
The award-winning work started as an oral needs assessment among youngsters in Oneida County. It involved 16 dental hygiene students educating and screening more than 100 second graders at Bellamy Elementary School in the Rome City School District on vital habits such as proper brushing and flossing techniques as well as how to make food choices to ensure oral health.
Schoolchildren who showed signs of tooth decay were given referrals to a dental provider. Others took a field trip to SUNY Canton’s teaching clinic, where many received a dental exam, x-rays and sealants if they were eligible, as well as a fluoride treatment.
Dr. Terrence Thines, the chief of dental surgery for SUNY Upstate Medical University’s dental residency program, and two residents offered dental exams. Dental supply providers GC America, Dentsply, Patterson Dental and Ultradent donated products. And the Cortland College Foundation provided additional funding for the community outreach project.
“Our assessment showed that there was a large percentage of the students who were covered by insurance —including Medicaid — but the percentage indicating a dental visit within the past year was around 30 percent,” Argyle said. “Our needs assessment revealed unmet needs that included dental decay and issues with access to care.
“That’s what this project was about: providing much needed dental health education, identifying gaps in access to care, providing some free preventative services where care was needed, and providing appropriate referrals for problems that may have otherwise gone undetected. It was beneficial for all parties involved.”
The national honor proves as much.