Grant helps students get dental work from other students
For many students living on campus, a trip to the dentist requires some sort of motorized excursion to an off-campus destination. The NAU Department of Dental Hygiene is doing something about it by providing students and other Flagstaff residents with a clinic in which the cost of dental work can be as low as a third of that of professional offices.
The clinic, located in the Health Professions building, offers a wide variety of dental services ranging from X-rays and exams to cleaning and fluoride treatment, as well as sealant application. All services are provided by students in the program.
Department chair Marge Reveal said the on-campus clinic is offered at a much lower rate than the average private office.
“We have fees for people who want to come in . . . about a third of what a dental office would charge for dental hygiene services,” Reveal said.
Not only does the department offer lower prices for community members, but financial aid is also included for students. Reveal said the grant makes the service free to all current students on a first come, first serve basis.
“We have a grant where we can see NAU students free of charge,” Reveal said. “They just have to give us their NAU ID.”
The grant is not limited to just students. Jodie Brown, NAU dental hygiene administrative assistant, said it also covers other members of the community.
“This grant is only for NAU students, low-income children [without dental insurance], and Native Americans,” Brown said, who added that the grant does not define “low-income.”
Minors who are provided with Medicaid by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) lose their dental insurance coverage when they turn 18 years old. Brown said the clinic makes dental hygiene services available to those who lose coverage at a reasonable cost.
“AHCCCS doesn’t normally cover dental insurance after [age] 18,” Brown said. “So we will give them services and charge them half-price.”
The number of grants that can be distributed is limited; once the department reaches a certain number of recipients, it can no longer provide dental work for free.
“We only have 145 spots [for the grant], so once we top out at that 145, we won’t be able to see anybody else,” Brown said. After all the positions have been filled, the department is forced to begin charging a fee.
Reveal said the clinic is run for the students, by the students.
“The services are all provided by dental hygiene students,” Reveal said. “But their supervision is by dental hygiene faculty.”
Chelsea Harper, a freshman business management major, said she has already considered utilizing the clinic, though she has not looked into the grant opportunity. When asked how she felt about being treated by her fellow students, Harper said that if the dental hygiene students have received sufficient training and experience, then she feels comfortable with student-led procedures.
“If they are close to being certified, then I’m fine with it,” Harper said.
Reveal said she was confident in the dental students’ work.
“People can expect that it will take longer than a dental office because these are students,” Reveal said. “But the services are of excellent quality.”