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Dental schools offer affordable care

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

In these tough economic times, one of the first things to get cut from the budget is dental care. And if you are unemployed, chances are you don't have dental insurance. But there is a way to get state-of-the-art dental care at a huge discount.

Most people don't think of the places listed below. And in some cases, even if they know about them many people are afraid they won't get good dental care. But hundreds of thousands of patients can't be all wrong.

It is one of the finest dental schools in the country with state-of-the-art equipment, highly experienced professors and well-trained students.

But to make it all work, University of California Los Angeles School of Dentistry needs patients, and lots of them.

"Our patient pool consists of infants all the way to geriatric patients," said Dr. Ronald Mito, clinical dentistry professor. "They come from as far away as Palmdale, Santa Barbara, San Diego."

In this economy, some dentist offices are seeing a drop in business. But not so at UCLA. In fact, last year they had more than 160,000 patient visits.

Associate Dean Doctor Ronald Mito says the dental school is so popular because the patients like the care.

"It's the customer service that is great," said dental patient Rick Hirsch. "It is really fabulous. I mean they really are attentive to you. It's a whole different feel."

And because they like the price.

"They've got excellent treatment and the cost is much better than going to a private dentist," said dental patient Geoffrey Smith.

In fact, you can expect to pay about half the cost of going to an established dentist. But now you may be thinking, "Sure, it's cheaper, but do I really want a student working on my teeth?" It's a common fear, but there really is nothing to worry about.

"Faculty are actually sitting chair-side, hands-on treatment of the patients to make sure the results are above the standard of care," said Dr. Richard Stevenson, professor of restorative dentistry.

And none of the patients had a problem with students doing the work.

"It's a dental school and they've got the best treatment there is," said Geoffrey Smith. "And the doctors always come by and check everything so I never worried about it."

If anything, the patients will miss their student-doctor when they graduate.

"A lot of people don't know about it," said Rick Hirsch. "I didn't know about it. I wish I had known about it years ago."

If you have dental insurance that allows you to go to any doctor, then it can be used at UCLA. By the way, UCLA is not the only dental school in the L.A. area. Don't forget that University of Southern California and Loma Linda University also have top-notch schools.

UCLA
www.dentistry.ucla.edu
For appointments at the UCLA Dental Center in Westwood, call (310) 206-3904.
For appointments at the Wilson-Jennings-Bloomfield UCLA Venice Dental Center, call (310) 392-4103.

USC
http://www.usc.edu/hsc/dental/Info/Patients/index.html
USC School of Dentistry Norris Dental Science Center
Call toll-free: (888) USC-DENT (1-888-872-3368)

Loma Linda University
http://www.llu.edu/llu/dentistry/patinfo.html
New patient appointments: (909) 558-4675

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