Fairfield dentist Dr. Dennis Ragoza, accompanied by State Sen. Tony Hwang, will give a specialized X-ray machine to the Fones School of Dental Hygiene this week to help its faculty and student-clinicians enhance care for hundreds of Bridgeport students.

The presentation of the Panoramic X-ray unit, valued at over $23,000, will take place at 2 p.m., Thursday, December 7 at the Jettie S. Tisdale Middle School, 250 Hollister Avenue, Bridgeport.

The Panoramic machine rotates around a patient’s head, taking a single image of teeth and the jaw.

Since 2007, Fones School student-clinicians led by faculty have provided free dental hygiene care at the Tisdale School for more than 350 students per year.

“We are so excited about this, and we can’t thank Dr. Ragoza enough,” said Fones School Dean Dr. Marcia Lorentzen. “The Panoramic X-ray unit provides a full X-ray of the jaw as opposed to individual films of teeth. Because we’re getting a more complete view, we can provide our patients with more comprehensive care, and we will be able to provide better referrals for further dental care beyond our services, should they be needed.”

Dental care is a crucial academic issue. American students miss more than 750,000 school days annually due to dental-related illnesses, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Moreover, dental decay is among the most common diseases among children, affecting 59 percent of kids between the ages of 5 and 17.

Dr. Ragoza said he wanted to donate an X-ray machine to the Fones School because it provides “a much-needed service in areas where receiving routine dental care may be a challenge.

“I was raised in Fairfield and always dreamed of returning home and starting a dental practice where I could treat my friends and neighbors,” Dr. Ragoza continued. “Growing up, I’ve been involved in many service opportunities and had the chance to work with incredible mentors who shared with me the power of giving back and serving the community. Now that it is my time, I’d like to carry forward the lessons that I have learned by helping others in the Fairfield area.”

About the Fones School of Dental Hygiene: The Fones School of Dental Hygiene was founded in 1913 by Bridgeport dentist Dr. Alfred C. Fones, who is credited with coining the term “dental hygiene.” Dr. Fones was inspired to train the first class of dental hygienists after seeing so many poor children from the Bridgeport suffering from dental decay. Fones School of Dental Hygiene participates in a variety of programs like Give Kids a Smile and treats up to 10,000 patients annually throughout Connecticut.

Accredited since 1953, the Fones program is in full accordance with the principles established by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council on Post-Secondary Accreditation and the United States Department of Education. Graduates are eligible for national, regional, and state examinations.

Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625, lgeary@bridgeport.edu