Students may not know it, but WKU has an on-campus Dental Hygiene Clinic that provides student dental hygiene services to students, faculty, staff, and the campus community at a reduced cost. .
The clinic offers dental hygiene students the opportunity to practice in a realistic setting. To receive credit, students must have a number of patient interactions based on varying degrees of patient need. The clinic offers examination, x-ray and cleaning services.
The clinic normally holds morning appointments from 8:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and afternoon appointments from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. For students, the cost is $25 and $35 for the public.
Joseph Evans, dentist and program director of WKU Dental Hygiene, explained the value the clinic brings to student education.
“Being an accredited program, we have certain experiences that students need to have,” Evans said. “We grade patients based on their accumulation, so students have to deal with as many levels based on difficulty. So for our students, it’s beneficial because it’s a requirement that they have to fulfill in order to graduate and get their license upon graduation.
It is a program that allows students to practice with tools and techniques that they can only learn in a clinical setting. Patients also benefit from the service due to reduced costs, accessibility, and education about their own dental hygiene.
“If you go to a private practice for x-rays and cleaning you will pay a few hundred dollars whereas here if you are a community member or a professor or a staff member you pay $35,” said said Evans. “Also, we see such a correlation between periodontal disease and oral health with systemic disease, so that’s a service we provide to patients. They can learn about these things and students can educate them on the basis of systemic relationships.
The biggest trade-off compared to private practice, however, is the time it takes for appointments, but this time difference is necessary due to the clinic continuing to train its students. Evans also explained that while the clinic isn’t full-service and doesn’t provide things like fillings or crowns, students can tell patients about other issues that need to be addressed at another location.
“The biggest thing is that because we are a teaching institution, these are longer appointments, so what might only take an hour in a private practice setting, an appointment here can be three hours or it can be multiple visits,” Evans said. “If you are available at an appointment window, we are looking for people who can come during that time so that we can provide these wonderful services that are there to educate students and provide thorough treatment.”
Ann Pakkala, a second-year dental hygiene student, shared how the clinic has benefited her learning experience and how she will continue to do so in the future.
“In the clinic, we treat patients like we would in the real world,” Pakkala said. “I have not only treated my own family and friends, but other WKU students, children and many others within the Bowling Green community. It has also allowed me to learn new skills such as improving communication skills, time management and professionalism My teachers at the clinic could not have prepared me more to enter the professional world here in a few months.
Pakkala recommends the clinic to anyone looking to clean up their smile.
“If you ever want to come and get your teeth cleaned, you should definitely come and visit our clinic,” Pakkala said.
Journalist Alexandria Anderson can be reached at [email protected].