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Dental Hygiene Students Offer Services to Community

Friday, June 14, 2013
By Eladio Jaimez

Dental HygieneStudents from the Dental Hygiene program at Texas State Technical College offer several services like cleanings at a discounted price to anyone from the community that makes an appointment.

While the services are rendered for a minimal charge, it’s the experience that the students receive that program Chairperson Raquel Rico said is the intent.

“Patients do need to be patient because we (instructors) are there to watch everything they do,” Rico said. “So even the smallest procedure can be a lengthy process.”

But the time element can be a worth it especially to individuals with limited or no dental insurance.

A cleaning that normally runs between $70-$80 costs only $20 at the Dental Hygiene labs at TSTC, Rico said.

Students can also perform deep scaling cleanings, or cleanings done to teeth that haven’t been cleaned in 10-15 years, Rico said.

And while a more elaborate procedure like that can set a patient back about $600 at a dentist’s office, Rico said at TSTC the cost is only $20.

Dental Hygiene students can also take X-rays for $12 and provide sealants for children. The price varies with the sealants, which help prevent cavities.

Rico said the money made from these procedures is mostly used to buy products and equipment for the department.

“It’s not about making money,” Rico said. “It’s about getting these students as much experience as we can. And practicing on real patients is the best experience.”

Rico said students do see a steady flow of patients in the course of the year and especially at the end of the Winter Texan season when most of the seasonal residents return home.

“We do get some but we could always see more,” Rico said. “The ones that struggle more are the out-of-town students. The local ones usually work on their families.”

For more information on the Dental Hygiene program or to make an appointment, contact Rico at 956-364-4702 or visit http://www.tstc.edu/harlingendhygiene.

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