It's hard to find someone who enjoys going to the dentist. But the talents of the LCCC dental hygiene program are working hard to change that mentality.

Since 1991, the fully accredited program has been turning out some of the strongest dental hygiene students in the region. These students are so well trained and prepared that they have a 95 percent first-time pass rate for their professional examination, with nearly a 100 percent placement rate within the first nine months of completing the program.

Val Rodekohr, program director, said that only 20 students are accepted each year into the intensive 16-month program. In that time, students are immersed in dental hygiene science, radiology theory, instrumentation, pathology, public health and more. Students also must have 800 hours of clinical practice. These clinic clients receive comprehensive dental hygiene services provided by students supervised and evaluated by licensed dental professionals and faculty.

The efforts of the students and the program extend beyond the walls of the classroom. During the fall, 16 students volunteered for the Mission of Mercy project in Denver, where they actively helped people unable to afford proper dental care elsewhere. Organizers said the event provided about $1 million worth of care during the two-day period.

And that really is something to make you smile.