By Linda Looney-Bond
Lisa Page, of Forest Park, was one of several people who received free oral screenings at Clayton State University's Dental Hygiene Clinic Tuesday.
"I wanted to get an oral screening, and I thought this was closest to my house, so it's very convenient," said the 41-year-old Page.
She said the fact that the screening was offered free of charge was icing on the cake. "I think it's wonderful," said Page, "because there are a lot of people in these current economic times that can't afford to go to the dentist, so this is a way to kind of jump start their oral health."
Students treat patients at the clinic under the supervision of dental hygiene faculty members, according the university's web site. The clinic offered screenings free of charge, on Tuesday, to further mark the birthday of the late civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., according to Dr. Susan Duley, department head of dental hygiene at the university.
"Last year, our students saw over 5,000 patients," said Duley. "We provide all the preventive oral health care that a person would need, and then, we refer them for appropriate dental care," she said.
Dr. Gail Barnes, assistant professor of dental hygiene, said the clinic offers services, such as oral screenings, teeth cleaning, teeth whitening, x-rays, and non-surgical periodontal therapy, to the public, at minimal fees.
"The patients really appreciate it, because especially now, with the economy, we have a lot of patients who have lost their jobs, and they've lost their dental insurance," said Barnes. "So, they come to us, and we provide the best service that we can, at a very minimum price, compared to what they would pay [elsewhere], if they were paying out of pocket," she said.
While observing a senior student consult with a patient, Tuesday, 27-year-old dental hygiene student and junior, Sharonia Rowe, explained that she had became interested in the field of dentistry at an early age. "I've always been very interested in helping people, and I thought that being in any field where you can give back to people is rewarding," said Rowe.
"You get to see different patients all the time ... You get to see how they progress and how much they've learned from you, and you're able to teach them how to better take care of their teeth," she said, "and also, to let them know that oral health is a direct correlation to your overall health."
Oral health screenings, which are used to determine a patient's overall oral health, cost $10 for new patients at the clinic, according to Barnes. Prophylaxis, or teeth cleaning with fluoride -- for healthy gums and teeth -- is $35.00 for adults, and $20.00 for children, Barnes said.
The clinic is located in the lower level of the Student Center on the main campus of Clayton State University, in Morrow, and operates Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m., until 3:50 p.m.
An appointment is required for service. For an appointment, call (678) 466-4920.
For more information about the cost and types of services offered at the university's Dental Hygiene Clinic, visit www.healthsci.clayton.edu/DH/DHclinic.htm.