Saturday, August 17, 2013

College Offers Dental Services to the Public

Dental hygiene student Misty Chandler
 works on patient Brayden Merwin.
You may know about Rio Salado College’s extensive options for online learning, but did you know the college also owns and operates a teaching dental clinic?

The Rio Salado College Dental Clinic serves as both an instructional lab where dental hygiene students gain practical experience and a full-service dental clinic open to the public.

“Patients are very happy when they leave our clinic because they know they have had the best treatment possible,” said Debra James, Rio Salado’s Dental Hygiene Program Director. “Rio Salado has one of the best dental hygiene programs in the nation.”

The college opened the dental clinic in late spring at its new location in Tempe. The facility features a clinic with 20 patient chairs, five X-ray units and an instrument processing room.

Patient stations are divided by scenic murals to provide a calming atmosphere.

Up to 20 dental hygiene students can work on patients at a time during clinic hours, with two students serving as clinical assistants. Students are supervised by licensed dentists and registered dental hygienists.

Services offered:

  • Oral examinations
  • X-rays
  • Tooth cleaning/polishing
  • Fluoride applications
  • Periodontal disease screening
  • Oral hygiene instruction
Students provide only preventive dental hygiene treatment. For other dental needs, patients should visit their family dentist. The clinic can provide patients with a list of community dental clinics.

The dental clinic is open to community members and their families. Children must be 4 years of age or older and are generally seen during the summer semester.

“He’s never had so much fun at the dentist,” said Kristin Merwin, who brought her 4-year old son Brayden to the clinic last week for a dental cleaning and exam.

“The clinic experience overall was incredible, far exceeding my expectations,” said Kristin. “The entire staff was very professional. They did an incredible job keeping Brayden comfortable and happy during his appointment. The instructors were all obviously experienced in dealing with children and made Brayden's dental experience a great one.”

Misty Chandler, the dental hygiene student who worked on Brayden, enjoys the clinic time and getting to know patients.

“I really like hearing my patients’ stories and what brought them to clinic,” Chandler said. “Some are there for their regular 6 month cleaning, while others have had tragedies in their lives and can’t look after themselves. It’s great getting them started back on a road to health and happiness.”

In addition to the quality services provided by students, patients benefit from an affordable pricing structure.

“Rio Salado's dental clinic provides the best dental hygiene treatment possible, at a reduced fee for the patients,” James said. Currently, fees range from $35-75 depending on the treatment.

The Rio Salado College Dental Clinic is located at 2250 W. 14th Street in Tempe. Clinic hours and appointments vary. All new patients must have a screening visit prior to a dental hygiene appointment. To schedule a screening appointment, call (480) 377-4100.

This story can also be found in the August 17 edition of The Tempe Republic.