WCU Dental Hygiene Clinic Staff Among First in California Trained in New Cavity-Filling Procedure

West Coast University’s Dr. David To and Professor Teri Heilbron examine a patient’s teeth at the WCU Dental Hygiene Clinic in Anaheim.

West Coast University faculty are now among the first dental hygienists in Southern California certified to apply a new kind of tooth filling.

The procedure, called interim therapeutic restorations or ITRs, is made possible due to a recent California law authorizing dental hygienists — after diagnosis by a dentist — to treat cavities and slow their progression with low-cost, temporary fillings. The law also allows a dentist to diagnosis via tele-dentistry. According to the Los Angeles Times, interim therapeutic restorations were tested on 900 patients throughout California over six years before the new law was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last fall.

“After completing the training, our faculty will now be instructing our students on how to do the procedure themselves,” WCU Dean of Dental Hygiene Michelle Hurlbutt, RDH, MSDH, DHSc, said. “The plan is to have all dental hygiene faculty trained and then we will implement this into our curriculum and train our students.”

West Coast University’s Dr. David To and Professor Teri Heilbron were among the 24 dental hygiene educators and dentists from other California dental hygiene programs who participated in the two-day training session at WCU’s Dental Hygiene Clinic. Educators underwent classroom instruction and practiced on artificial teeth before performing on volunteer patients who were offered the procedure at no cost.

“Through (Dr. David To’s) leadership this event was extremely successful,” Hurlbutt said. “Nearly 170 ITRs were placed during this event, which improved our patients’ quality of life and most likely saved some teeth.”

In addition to the clinic and program staff who helped organize the event, Hurlbutt also thanked the student volunteers and clinic administrator Jo Anne Schram; patient coordinator Luz Toro-Farmer; and WCU faculty Mihaela Popa, Laurene Medina, Fariba Mehr, Audrey Hung and April Turner for all their help.

“Our students will soon be able to provide leading-edge services to patients they serve, which will improve the dental health of our communities,” Hurlbutt said.

WCU’s free Dental Hygiene Clinic boasts 30 dental chairs and 10 X-ray units to provide patients with superior care and give students the opportunity to experience the full range of dental hygiene services and related patient care.

To set up an appointment, call (877) 928-2546.

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