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Healthy Senior Smiles program

Nicolet Dental Hygiene students

launch Healthy Senior Smiles program


Nicolet Dental Hygiene student

Nicolet College Dental Hygiene students have embarked on a campaign to improve the oral health of residents in long-term care and in doing so prevent or lessen a myriad of serious health issues linked to poor oral health.

“An increase in heart disease, a greater incidence of stroke, and greater difficulty in controlling diabetes, all of these conditions are linked directly to poor oral health,” said Dental Hygiene student Lexy Henckel.

To help address this issue, Nicolet College Dental Hygiene students have created and launched their Healthy Senior Smiles project to improve the oral health of residents at three long-term care facilities in Rhinelander, Eagle River, and Minocqua.

They’re doing this by conducting short seminars with direct care staff at these facilities, passing on specific techniques on how to improve residents’ oral health.

Henckel has a rather unique perspective on the issue. She’s also a Nursing Assistant graduate, commonly a precursor to working in long-term care and assisted living facilities.

While oral health is part of the program, she recognized this as an opportunity to provide much more information about oral health to caregivers.

“The overriding goal of Healthy Senior Smiles is to give the staff at these facilities additional knowledge and skills so they can provide the best possible care for residents,” she said. “We called three facilities and all three said yes and were excited to partner with us for the program.”

Participating facilities included Cumberland Heights in Rhinelander, Options Residential Care Center in Eagle River, and the Avanti Health and Rehabilitation Center in Minocqua.

As part of the project, the students also applied for and received a $1,000 grant from Delta Dental of Wisconsin with the funds going to purchase power tooth brushes and other oral care items for residents.

“It was definitely inspiring to see how passionate and well prepared the students were for this project and how well it was received by the caregivers at the facilities,” said Kelly Moran, director of Nicolet’s Dental Hygiene program.

“The students put everything in place to improve the oral health of a population in need.”

For more information about Nicolet’s Dental Hygiene program, visit or call the college at (715) 365-4493, 1-800-544-3039; TTY 1-800-947-3529 or 711 relay.

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