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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

SJVC campuses provide free dental services to the public

April 30, 2018

SJVC Dental Students Offering Free Dental ServicesDid you know that SJVC’s Visalia and Ontario Dental Hygiene programs provide no-cost dental services to their local communities, and have done so for years? If you’re interested in these services, click to set up an appointment.

Under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist, dental hygiene students provide X-rays, teeth cleanings, fluoride treatments, polishings, temporary fillings, and sealants to patients. Registered dental hygienists instruct and oversee students throughout every patient procedure.

In addition to dental treatment services, patients also receive oral hygiene education to help them maintain good oral health going forward. Patients as young as 5 who are accompanied by an adult may take advantage of these services.

If you would like to participate in these services, please expect to spend 3+ hours at one of SJVC’s dental hygiene clinics. Visits begin with a complete dental and health history evaluation then progress to a cancer screening and thorough examination to determine if decay or gum disease is present. Appropriate X-rays are taken before a treatment plan is determined.

All information may be transferred to the patient’s regular dentist upon request.

“Dental hygiene services provided at SJVC’s clinics are both preventative and therapeutic,” says Brenda Serpa, Dental Hygiene Program Director for the Visalia campus. “Patients who have healthy mouths and want to keep them healthy will come in for routine X-rays, cleanings (prophylaxis), fluoride treatments, and possibly sealants. Advanced students provide treatment for periodontal disease in the form of scaling, root planing and desensitizing treatments.”

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is linked to several other health issues, including diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, respiratory disease and some cancers. “It’s important for people to understand that oral health is very important to their general health,” says Serpa.

SJVC Ontario’s Dental Hygiene program has offered clinic services to its community since 2001. “Overall, our patient feedback indicates excellent service and love for the students, staff, and faculty,” says Leslie Nazaroff, Dental Hygiene Program Director for the Ontario campus.

Dental Hygiene program students are now able to offer patients Interim Therapeutic Restorations (ITRs), which are temporary fillings that stabilize a broken or decayed tooth until a dentist can provide a permanent filling. It is a helpful solution for someone who has not yet found a dentist, is waiting for dental insurance to activate, or needs a little time for their financial situation to improve to afford dental intervention.

Patient satisfaction ranks high for SJVC’s Dental Hygiene students and graduates. “We have a great reputation in the community,” says Nazaroff. “Common comments I get are, ‘Your graduates are so well prepared’ and ‘Your graduates are so professional.’”

Deep cleanings, which might require several visits, are performed on patients whose teeth require extensive treatment due to significant build-up, calculus or hardened plaque under the gum tissue that has caused infection. This more intensive procedure entails scaling and root planing. “Once the deposits are removed, the tissue can heal and eliminate the infection,” says Serpa.

Patients are kept comfortable during these procedures with the use of nitrous oxide analgesia and/or local anesthesia.

The direct patient interaction Dental Hygiene students experience in the clinics has a tremendous impact on both their technical proficiency and their patient interaction skills. “The more interest our students take in their patients’ oral health, the more they are able to gain the necessary experience to become competent dental hygienists [when they] enter the workforce,” says Nazaroff.

“It is important for the public to know about our services because it is truly a win-win situation,” says Serpa. “The students need the patients to practice their skills, and the patients are receiving excellent care at no cost. It isn’t unusual for a patient to receive over $1,000 in free services by the time they complete treatment.”

Entire families have enjoyed free basic dental care through SJVC’s Dental Hygiene clinics. Preventive care can save a great deal of money and ensure better oral health for participants.

The free dental clinics allow Dental Hygiene students who have successfully completed the requirements of specific program modules to perfect their hands-on skills, practice patient communication, and become more comfortable in their knowledge and experience. Both students and the Ontario and Visalia communities benefit.

Future patients are invited to call the Visalia or Ontario campus to schedule an appointment:

SJVC Visalia Dental Clinic
8344 W. Mineral King Ave., Visalia, CA 93291

SJVC Ontario Dental Clinic
4580 Ontario Mills Parkway, Ontario, CA 91764

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