College can be financially tough for some students. But Amarillo College offers several programs to help students on a tight budget. Though used by some, one that remains relatively unknown is the dental hygiene clinic.
The clinic on the first floor of Jones Hall on the West Campus offers preventative care services, which include teeth cleaning, dental X-rays, blood pressure screenings and oral cancer screening.
Donna Cleere, a dental hygiene professor and program director, said the clinic includes a Texas-licensed dentist and dental hygienist. Students also complete clinical hours in the on-site clinic. Those who need work done should call ahead, she said.
“We would prefer for patients to schedule appointments,” Cleere said. “The dental clinic is very busy, and patients are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis.”
Cleere said there are no initial costs for AC students, faculty or staff. The services are offered to the public as well, and the cost for those individuals is $30. Some services must be requested by an outside practitioner.
“Requirements for X-rays are requested by the doctor,” said Mariah Gonzalez, a dental assisting major.
The length of a patient’s treatment differs from person to person based on their needs, Cleere said.
“Initially, all new patients are screened,” she said. “Depending on the care needed, patients may be seen for two or more appointments.”
Once all the treatments are completed, patients are encouraged to come back once a year, she said.
Gonzalez said she has known about the dental service for a few years but never was aware it was free until she started attending dental school.
“I think it’s beneficial to students,” Gonzalez said. “Some students may not be able to afford dental insurance or have the money to pay for dental services.”
While she has used the clinic only once, she said she knows a few others who also have had work completed.
“They are the few students who understand how expensive dental cleanings can be,” Gonzalez said.
Jessica Jacobo, a nursing major, said she sees fliers around the West Campus advertising X-rays and checkups but thinks more needs to be done to get the word out about the clinic to students on other campuses and those who are online-only who may truly need the services.
“I don’t think there is really enough advertisement out there for this free service,” she said. “The more advertisement there is, the more students you can reach.”
Jacobo first learned about the clinic last summer and has heard more people talking about it in person and on social media.
The word slowly is reaching more people enrolled in classes, something Gonzalez said is crucial to keeping a healthy student body and staff.
“Teeth are a very important bone in your body,” she said.