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Hygienist an oral health hero

December 23, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN -- Hagerstown resident Michelle A. Frushour recently was honored as a "hero" by the American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA) and Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNeil-PPC Inc. -- one of 10 nationwide in recognition of her outstanding service to community oral health.

"I graduated from Catoctin High School and then Allegany College of Maryland in Cumberland with my dental hygiene degree," Frushour said.

A registered dental hygienist, Frushour, 35, works at BrightNow Dental in Frederick, Md. She worked for several years in Hagerstown.

Dental hygienists are critical educators on the front lines of dental care, according to Janine Berstein of Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNeil-PPC Inc.

"They are often the first and last professional to speak with patients about the importance of preventative oral care including the essentials of a complete daily oral care regimen that encompasses brushing, flossing and rinsing," she said in an e-mail.

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Frushour's dedication to teaching children early preventive methods has included teaching herself American Sign Language in order to volunteer her time with hearing-impaired children, teaching them the benefits behind developing a good oral health routine.

"I learned sign language because of my work," Frushour said. The Maryland School for the Deaf is in Frederick, and deaf patients are not rare, she said.

February is Children's Dental Health Month, and for the past two years, Frushour has gone to the Maryland School for the Deaf to teach good dental habits and plans to return in 2009.

She also volunteers her time participating in a program called Sealant Saturday where she engages in public awareness efforts aimed at bringing free oral exams, sealants and dental health education to children in need.

Frushour plans to continue to raise awareness on the importance of oral health by encouraging others to participate.

Recipients were recognized at the 2008 ADHA annual session in Albuquerque, N.M., and received $1,000 donated to a health care-related charity of their choice, as well as ADHA continuing education, including up to three courses at the annual session.

Frushour is the daughter of Ronald Topper, who lives in nearby Pennsylvania. Her mother is Shirley Harbaugh of Sabillasville, Md.

"My inspiration is my parents," Frushour said. "Both are very work-oriented and very driven."

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