WKU Dental Hygiene Clinic offers community services, experience for students

Alexandria Anderson, News reporter

Students may not be aware, but WKU has a dental hygiene clinic on campus that offers services from dental hygiene students to students, faculty, staff and the campus community at a reduced cost. 

The clinic provides dental hygiene students the opportunity to practice in a realistic setting. To receive credit, students must have a certain number of patient interactions based on varying degrees of patient needs. The clinic offers exam services, x-rays and cleaning services.

The clinic normally holds their morning appointments from 8:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and their afternoon appointments from 1:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. For students, the cost is $25 and $35 for the public.

Joseph Evans, dentist and program director of WKU Dental Hygiene, explained the value that the clinic brings to student education.

“Being an accredited program, we have certain experiences the students have to meet,” Evans said. “We classify patients based on the buildup that they have, so students have to treat so many levels based on difficulty. So for our students, it’s beneficial because it’s a requirement that they have to fulfill in order to obtain their degree and become licensed at graduation.”

It is a program that allows students to practice with tools and techniques they can only learn within a clinical setting. Patients also benefit from the service because of lower costs, accessibility and education on their own dental hygiene.

“If you go to a private practice for x-rays and a cleaning you would be paying a couple hundred dollars whereas here, if you’re a community member or faculty or staff, you’re paying $35,” Evans said. “Also, we see such a correlation between periodontal disease and oral health with systemic diseases, so this is a service we provide for patients. They can learn about these things and students can educate them based on the systemic relationships.”

The largest tradeoff compared to private practice, however, is the time it takes for appointments, but this time difference is necessary due to the fact that the clinic is still educating its students. Evans also explained that although the clinic is not full-service and doesn’t provide things like fillings or crowns, students can make patients aware of other issues that need to be treated at another location.

“The biggest thing is that because we are a learning institution, these are longer appointments, so what may only take an hour in the private practice setting, an appointment here could take three hours or it could be multiple visits,” Evans said. “If you’re available at an appointment window, we’re looking for individuals that can come in during that time frame so that we can provide these wonderful services that are there to educate the students and provide a thorough treatment.”

Ann Pakkala, a second-year dental hygiene student, explained how the clinic has benefited her learning experience and how it will continue to do so in the future.

“In the clinic, we treat patients as we would in the real world,” Pakkala said “I have not only treated my own family and friends, but other WKU students, kids and many others within the Bowling Green community. It has also allowed me to gain new skills such as improved communication skills, time management and professionalism. My professors in the clinic could not have made me feel more prepared to enter the professional world here in a few short months.”

Pakkala recommends the clinic to anyone looking to clean up their smile.

“If you ever want to come get your teeth cleaned, you should definitely come visit our clinic,” Pakkala said.

News reporter Alexandria Anderson can be reached at [email protected].