If you are a dental student and watched the Frontline special on “Dollars and Dentists” you might have been wondering why there was no mention of dental schools and their role in addressing the healthcare needs of America. Journalist Miles O’Brien’s closing words on the show were, “As for the millions of the other adults in our country that charities can’t treat, there is to date no solution for them”. I wanted to jump out of my chair and scream, “What about dental schools”? Dental schools are unique in that they can provide quality care at reduced costs to their patients. When I watched the episode and saw how an elderly lady had incurred over $8,000 in debt for extractions and dentures, I was shocked because I am fairly certain she could have gotten similar results for less money at a dental school. I think that when it comes to dental care, we need to make the public better aware of the resources they have in their own community.
Many schools are hurting for more patients and there are many patients that are hurting for dental care. Surely there must be a way to better connect these patients who need care to the dental institutions we attend so that we can help address the gap! Whether it is creating a busing schedule for getting patients from more remote areas to the school or students going out to more rural areas to provide care, I feel that we, as students, can make a huge impact on addressing the need for oral health care in America!
~ Lia Kalliath, 2012 Chicago Administrative Extern, Alabama ’14