background image
Left: JoAnn Lamoureux (foreground on telephone) teaching one of the early Dental
Hygiene classes at Middlesex in the original dental clinic in the `70s.
Right: Dental Hygiene students at work in the original clinic at the VA in 1979.
rofessor JoAnn Lamoureux
joined the MCC dental
hygiene faculty in 1973 when
the program was in its infancy,
as was the college. She still teaches full
time and has served as advisor and mentor
to many students for the past 37 years.
Some of those students are now part of the
Middlesex dental hygiene faculty.
This year, she is teaching Pharmacology,
Local Anesthesia, Concepts II
and dental
hygiene clinical courses. She has twice
served as department chair and is
especially proud of developing the
curriculum that added the procedure of
local anesthesia to the "toolbox" of MCC
dental hygiene students.
"The transition from the early days at
Middlesex to now is a bit like moving from
a small, tight-knit town in Colonial
America where everyone knows each
other, to a much larger, modern city. In
the early days, we were just trying to
survive," Lamoureux said. "All faculty and
staff fit in one room in a building on the
grounds of the VA Medical Center. I
remember I had to walk through a
classroom to get to my first office, even
when a class was in session! There was,
however, a great spirit of cooperation and
excitement. Everyone worked really hard.
Finances were tight, but we knew we were
building something worthwhile."
The Dental Assisting Program began at
Middlesex in 1971, while the Dental
Hygiene Program began in 1972. There
were 24 students in the first Dental
Hygiene Program. They were all women,
and most were just out of high school. The
Dental Hygiene Clinic at the VA was built
specifically for Middlesex students, and
was an exceptional, state-of-the-art facility
at that time. Patients came from the VA
and the surrounding towns. Teeth
cleanings were only $2, and X-rays were
$3 in 1975.
"Our dental lab was completely modern,
unlike our heating system. That consisted
of old steam radiators, which were always
on high. We actually had to use air
conditioning units all winter so we could
work," Lamoureux said. "A lot more also
has changed over time, from the way we
dressed caps and uniforms in the '70s --
to the services we provide. I feel very
fortunate to have had the privilege of
being part of both the growth of the
college and the dental hygiene profession.
It has been a rare and rewarding
MCC's dental programs were the last to
leave the VA buildings when the Bedford
campus opened. In 1992, they were the
first department to move into the Health,
Science & Technology Center in Lowell
and a brand new Dental Hygiene Clinic,
built specifically for the programs. Today,
Middlesex accommodates 20 students in
the Dental Assisting Program and 40 in
each class of the Dental Hygiene Program,
which always has more applicants than
spaces available. There are also more male
students. This year, five men are enrolled
in first-year dental hygiene courses.
"The college has done an admirable job
dedicating money to update equipment
needed for our clinics and laboratories. We
have always been `ahead of the curve,' "
Lamoureux said. The Dental Hygiene
Clinic now has eight clusters containing
four workstations each. A recent upgrade
included the installation of new computer
technology and the transition of existing
radiology equipment to digital
radiography. The facility's storage and
sterilization equipment was also increased
and upgraded. The clinic still offers dental
hygiene services to the public at a reduced
cost. Licensed dental hygiene faculty and
dentists closely supervise MCC dental
hygiene students.
"Today's dental hygienists follow a
curriculum that includes much more
technology than it did in the early days.
The functions of the hygienist have
expanded tremendously. They have more
extensive responsibilities and have to
meet more educational requirements," said
Lamoureux. "Also, there are many more
educational institutions offering dental
hygiene programs now than there were in
the early 1970s. Often, the women
graduates in the '70s stopped working after
having children and did not resume work
until their children were older, if they
returned at all. That has all changed, as it
has in most professions."
Lamoureux received her A.S. and B.S.
degrees from the University of Rhode
Island, and an M.A. degree from
Framingham State University. Prior to
coming to Middlesex, she worked as a
hygienist for four years in Rhode Island.
She still works in a private practice one
afternoon each week to keep in touch
with new developments in the field so she
can share this knowledge with her
students. Six of the hygienists Lamoureux
works with are former Middlesex students,
a source of pleasure and pride for her.
Continuing in Lamoureux's career path
is her daughter Danielle, who is now a
student in MCC's Dental Assisting
Program, having previously earned a
degree in Early Childhood Education
from Middlesex.
Deborah Kearney