Photo caption: TSTC Dental Hygiene student Kristy Rocha (right) talks about the harmful effects of tobacco in a recent community outreach presentation to fifth grade students at Lyford Elementary School. (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Some Texas State Technical College Dental Hygiene students recently gave a community outreach presentation to a group of Lyford Elementary School fifth graders about the negative effects of tobacco on oral health.

Some of the presentations and games had titles such as “Burning a Hole in Your Wallet,” “Clear the Air” and “Don’t Let Smoking Burst Your Bubble.”

Dental Hygiene students Yaretcy Leza and Oscar Alonso were among the presenters.

“I talked about the harmful ingredients found in tobacco, how it’s addictive, how it causes cancer, and (tobacco’s) different forms, such as smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes,” Leza said.

“My role was to teach the students that they can still be harmed from chemicals by standing next to a smoker,” Alonso said.

Lucretia Human, a TSTC Dental Hygiene instructor, said community events such as this one help the program’s students evolve as professionals.

“These opportunities help our students build their public speaking skills,” she said. “Our students learned how to manage around 96 fifth graders and educate them about why smoking and vaping is bad.”

Goody bags containing soft-bristle toothbrushes, toothpaste, flossers and stickers were offered to the elementary students.

According to, dental hygienists in Texas earn an average annual salary of $79,660. The need for hygienists in the state was expected to grow 32% by 2030, according to the website.

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Dental Hygiene at the Harlingen campus.

Registration for TSTC’s spring semester is underway. For more information, visit

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