WVU dental hygiene students design winning clinic invention

The idea could save dentistry professionals frustration during procedures.

West Virginia University School of Dentistry Dental Hygiene students Sam Farley and Kristen Hanlan set out to improve the efficiency, convenience and sanitization of crucial equipment used daily and in nearly all oral healthcare procedures.

The team has worked for a year to develop the idea. 

“I think the fact that the idea is so simple, and yet so pertinent to the everyday work of dental clinicians, it will have a positive impact on the daily productivity of dental professionals,” Hanlan hinted.

WVU hygiene dental students, Sam Farley and Kristen Hanlan won the pitch competition in September.

Giving away the details of their design could jeopardize their chances at patenting and producing the modified essential dental clinic equipment.

The hard work was rewarded with a win in a university innovation contest. At the September Fall Kickoff Pitch Competition presented by the WVU LaunchLab Applied Innovation Center, Hanlan and Farley promoted their before a panelist of 4 judges.  They included Cory Dennison, President and CEO of Vision Shared, Mike Green, retired business and technology professional who chairs the West Virginia Growth Investment Fund, Chad Prather, a Huntington Bank vice president and regional manager and Tres Ross, executive director of the Ross Foundation which funds education and community development projects. 

“It feels good to have other people recognize the worth of your idea. Being able to explain the idea to people who have no experience working with dental equipment, and having them agree that our idea is important, is very validating,” said Hanlan.

The idea came to Hanlan, now pursuing an undergraduate degree in dental hygiene, when she was working as a dental assistant. She knows first-hand the product she and Farley pitched will be useful during operative procedures.

Amy D. Funk, Chair of the Department of Dental Hygiene, shared her pride.

“Even before the competition began, I was extremely proud of Kristen and Sam for taking the initiative to explore every possibility of how to make their idea become a reality. They have spent countless hours researching and developing their idea and I am confident that they will be successful,” said Funk.

She continued, “All the presenters did a fantastic job, and I was thrilled when Kristen and Sam were awarded first place. Carrie White, Director of the LaunchLab, and all of her team are wonderful and very helpful to all the students; I strongly encourage everyone to attend their events. “

Farley and Hanlin are using their product as the topic of their senior research project.

They received $1500 for their first place finish in the LaunchLab pitch competition.

About West Virginia University School of Dentistry

At the School of Dentistry, faculty and student dentists treat more than 16,000 patients per year from all 55 counties on the Morgantown campus.

Those same students provide care to all of the citizens of West Virginia through participating in “rural rotations” at 63 clinics, private practices and community centers, across the state.  The school reports dental and dental hygiene students performed 17,225 clinical procedures while treating 8,807 patients from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.