Within the US and Canada there are over 60 dental schools which provide inexpensive dental treatment. With locations all over the US from Louisville, New York City, Ft Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Omaha, and Chapel Hill it is very likely there is a school nearby. As a dental student, I’d like to reveal some factors to consider when choosing to get dental work done at a school.
Insurance: Dental schools accept most insurances. It is still a good idea to call the school ahead of time to be sure there are no problems. Going to a school may be a good option if the regular dentist drops insurance coverage.
Expert overseers: When I started dental school, I was surprised to find that celebrities exist in the dental profession, and many of them are my professors. My “cavity professor” frequently speaks at conferences and publishes in journals. A couple of professors at my school were recently recognized for a new innovation in tooth whitening. These are the people who oversee every step of patients’ treatment at the school.
Inexpensive: Cleanings, crowns, root canals or even veneers are cheaper at dental schools. I’d estimate that treatment is about half as expensive as a regular dental office. Students are good resources for learning about the best values offered at the school. Ask them if there are any procedures that are particularly cheap at the school. Perhaps tooth whitening kits are particularly inexpensive. It depends on the school.
Work with students: I may be a little biased, but dental students are cool. Your typical dental student is a 20 something-year-old studying for classes and working to become a good dentist. Don’t underestimate what your student knows how to do. They are trained to do crowns, fill cavities, and even put on veneers. Dentistry is continually changing with new advancements, and schools are very good at updating their curriculums so students know the most up to date techniques.
Possibility for absolutely FREE work: To become licensed as dentists, students must pass the National Board exams. This consists of working on patients that have a specific type of cavity under the supervision of a Board examiner. If you qualify as a National Board patient, your student will love you and fix your teeth for free.
When you decide to get work done at a school, expect it to take a while. Here’s why:
A couple appointments: Because students are so closely monitored, it normally takes 3 appointments until patients begin treatment. Also many schools suffer from faculty shortages. Appointments that take 1 hour at a regular dentist office could take 3 hours because the student is waiting for a professor to check their work. Bring a book or something because you might be alone in the chair while the student is waiting for a professor. Sometimes schools even offer evening clinic sessions which offer greater flexibility for patients.
Slow, perfectionist students: Hey, we are learning here. Students practice on manikins, plastic teeth, and each other before they are let loose on real human beings. When practicing, good clinical results, not speed, are graded. Students are competent at performing the procedures – we are just slow.
No assistants: Normally students are working solo. So you may be asked to help make the process go faster. Maybe write some numbers or hold the suction in your own mouth.
Think it over. If you don’t mind spending some extra time at the school you can get a great bang for your buck.
Image courtesy of completosinmallo
Here is a list of all Dental Schools in the country courtesy of wikipedia (thanks Kelly in comments)
University of Alabama School of Dentistry, Birmingham, Alabama
Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health
Mid-Western University school of dentistry (fall 2007)
Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, Loma Linda, California
UCLA School of Dentistry, Los Angeles
University of California at San Francisco School of Dentistry
Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, University of the Pacific, San Francisco, Calif.
University of Southern California USC School of Dentistry, Los Angeles, California
University of Colorado Denver School of Dental Medicine, Aurora, Colorado
University of Connecticut Health Center School of Dental Medicine, Farmington, Connecticut
District of Columbia / Washington, D.C.
Howard University College of Dentistry
Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine, Ft. Lauderdale
University of Florida College of Dentistry, Gainesville, Florida
Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry, Augusta, Georgia
University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, Chicago, Illinois
Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine, Carbondale, Illinois
Indiana University School of Dentistry, Indianapolis, Indiana
University of Iowa College of Dentistry, Iowa City, Iowa
University of Kentucky College of Dentistry, Lexington, Kentucky
University of Louisville School of Dentistry, Louisville, Kentucky
Louisiana State University School of Dentistry, New Orleans, Louisiana
University of Maryland Dental School of the University of Maryland at Baltimore, founded as the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery
Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine
Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston
Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, Boston
University of Michigan School of Dentistry
University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry, Detroit, Michigan
University of Minnesota School of Dentistry
University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry
University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Dentistry, Jackson, Mississippi
University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska
Creighton University School of Dentistry, Omaha, Nebraska
UNLV School of Dental Medicine also known as the University of Nevada at Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Dental School
Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, New York City
New York University College of Dentistry, New York City
State University of New York at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine
State University of New York at Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry
Ohio State University College of Dentistry, Columbus, Ohio
Case School of Dental Medicine of the Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center College of Dentristy, Oklahoma City
Oregon Health & Science University School of Dentistry, Portland, Oregon
Temple University School of Dentistry, Philadelphia
University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine
University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine
University of Puerto Rico School of Dentistry, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Medical University of South Carolina College of Dental Medicine, Charleston, South Carolina
University of Tennessee College of Dentistry, Memphis, Tennessee
Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry, Nashville, Tennessee
Baylor College of Dentistry, Texas A&M Health Science Center, Dallas, Texas
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Dental Branch
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Dental School
Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry, Richmond, Virginia
University of Washington School of Dentistry, Seattle, Washington
West Virginia University School of Dentistry, Morgantown & Charleston, West Virginia
Marquette University School of Dentistry, Milwaukee, Wisconsin