Free dental services are readily available in many dental schools. While the more obvious might be the annual health screening events, there are individuals working hard within the walls of many colleges and universities, to secure funding in the fight to eradicate oral diseases.
Many of the latest advances in dentistry techniques are due to the efforts of these hardworking individuals, as well as the many patient volunteers who participate in research projects. But, it is not just thru research or grant funding that free dental services can be obtained, you can find free or discounted dental work with student dentists and the clinic manager as well.
Research is at the heart of almost any health care organization - dental schools included. Faculty members and students are constantly engaging in related to diseases of the mouth and teeth, or on improved methods of providing care through the use of new dental materials and equipment. Patients often benefit in many ways - being compensated for time and travel and receiving the latest dental products for free. The school benefits when you help them to test products and procedures. As a result of dental research projects, the quality of dentistry is constantly improving.
Patients can receive free dental services or very expensive procedures for a significant discount as a dental research participant. I had the pleasure of knowing people who received free teeth whitenings, dental bondings, dental implants, dental crowns, fixed bridges and orthodontic work.
As a dental clinic manager, I received grant funding for senior citizens. Does your dental school get grant monies that can allow its patients to receive free dental services? Dental grants can be designated for a specific age group, gender or a specific dental problem (overbite, impacted molar, TMJ, dry mouth, etc.). Speak with someone who can refer you to the appropriate person for more information. Personally, I had the pleasure of providing over $50,000 in grant monies to individuals for a variety of dental procedures, including crowns, dentures, root canals and fixed dental bridge work.
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), provides very transparent information about the money they award to dental schools. In addition to listing the school name, they provide the actual dollar amount (the figures are staggering, yet provide hope). For 2010, they gave $155,339,1491 in grant monies to dental schools! Did the dental school where you are being treated receive any money? If the answer is yes, what types of dental treatments is the money being used for?
In the US, all states require that dentists be licensed to practice. Not only must they graduate from a dental school accredited by the ADA Commission on Dental Accreditation, they must also pass both written and practical examinations to qualify for a license. A practical or clinical examination must involve treating patients. Speak to your dental student and the dental clinic manager about how you may participate. The practical, sometimes referred to as National Board Examinations (NBE), can take place more than once per year at some dental schools.
In almost all cases, patients who are used in dental board exams receive free dental work. It may consist of 1) a free cleaning being performed as part of the examination or 2) the cleaning being done prior to your having a specific treatment performed. For instance, the NBE may require that the dental student treat a dental cavity. The patient may be given a free cleaning two days before the exam, a free filling on the day of the test and money for time and travel expenses.
It is not unheard of for patients to get free dental work in the form of mouth guards, root canal therapy, and free dental crowns for helping a dental student with a board examination. Some students have been known to go so far as to give patients as much as $500 for their time or provide them with paid car service to make certain they show up on time. If patients do not show up for these types of exams, the student automatically fails and not only must they pay to take the exam again, but their graduation date can be delayed.
Speak to the dental clinic manager or clinic facilitator about a discounted dental plan. Avoid discussing fees with the student. He/she is expected to focus on your dental care, not fees (at least not until they begin their own private practice). The clinic manager or facilitator usually handles all administrative matters as it relates to free dental services and discounts. If the clinic has no manager or facilitator, speak to the individual authorized to handle discounted dental plans. This discussion should occur after you have been presented with a treatment plan. The treatment plan is most often the significant factor in determining whether a free dental procedure or a discounted fee is warranted.
As you can see, there are many ways to get free dental work in a dental school setting. The primary advantage being the potential to save hundreds of dollars in dental fees. But, like almost everything, there can be some disadvantages to this type of cheap dental care.