Welcoming patients from the entire community in addition to students, staff and faculty, SPSCC’s Campus Dental Clinic continues to provide dental assisting students with hands-on experience. The clinic is located on the second floor of Building 34.
This experience is vital to the program because it allows students to “graduate with the skills and confidence employers are looking for,” said Dana Larson, dental assisting program manager.
The clinic has existed for over 30 years.
It resides in Building 34, the same building as the dental assisting program, accredited by the American Dental Association.
The clinic provides general dentistry services to patients, employing part-time dentists and hygienists to assist in the teaching process of students in the program, said Larson. However, all procedures are performed by licensed dentists.
Services include exams, x-rays, fillings, crowns, cleaning, extractions, root canal treatment, limited emergency treatment and referrals for services not offered by the clinic.
The clinic charges lower fees than a regular dentist office, because procedure times are often about a third longer than usual due to the simultaneous teaching that occurs.
The low fees allow access for people who otherwise would not be able to afford the necessary services, said Larson.
Fees for each service are based on the patient’s amount of insurance, said Larson. Larson recommended calling the clinic directly to get accurate cost estimates.
“Dental insurance works the same as in other clinics,” said Larson. The clinic is a preferred provider for Washington Dental Service.
A basic exam for new patients without dental insurance would cost a minimum of $51, and adding a cleaning brings the cost up to about $75. There is an additional cost of $27-$85 for new x-rays to replace x-rays over a year old.
Some patients are able to volunteer and receive free service in exchange for the advanced learning opportunity their treatment provides.
Though some patients receive dental care only from the clinic, some also choose to combine care with services from non-teaching clinics, Larson said.
“Not all patients come to the clinic for the same reason, but most come because they have confidence in us,” said Larson.
Larson said the hours of the clinic are limited compared to other facilities. The clinic is open 7:50 a.m. to 12 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Hours of operation are determined by the availability of the dentists and hygienists.
The clinic does not function during school breaks, finals week, summer quarter, and the first four weeks of fall quarter, when dental students are not yet fully prepared to work. The clinic refers patients to other providers if emergency care is necessary during an inactive time, said Larson.