From dental cleanings for children and adults to X-rays and periodontal therapy, students in the Dental Hygiene program at Georgia Highlands College (GHC) provide high-quality and reduced cost preventative care to upwards of 1,000 patients each year, with about 740 being served in 2022.
Students begin to provide patient care during their second semester in the program, typically in early March. During the spring semester two classes provide patient care with the senior class graduating in May.
“As students progress and build skills throughout the program, the number of patients seen each semester increases,” Director of Dental Hygiene Regina Gupta said.
As required by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, each faculty member oversees five students during each clinic session.
“This means that each faculty member is responsible for overseeing quality assurance of care and student learning for approximately 20 patients in one day,” Gupta said.
The work of student clinicians is checked at various stages of the care process with up to seven faculty checks per patient. Faculty provide evaluation and feedback to students as they learn best practices in the delivery of patient care.
Students experience caring for a variety of patients including children, teens, adults and senior adults as they progress through the program. They also see patients with various oral health concerns, providing care to patients with good oral health as well as those experiencing periodontal diseases.
Cost for care ranges from $15 for a single sealant, to $95 for periodontal therapy, also known as a “deep cleaning.” Click here for a full list of services and prices.
The American Dental Association recommends everyone visit the dentist at least every six months for comprehensive care. Patients with periodontal diseases need to be seen three to four times a year to maintain good oral health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease increases with age, with 70.1% of adults age 65 and older experiencing periodontal disease.
“Our goal is to help patients prevent oral health diseases such as cavities, gingivitis and periodontitis,” Gupta said. “Gingivitis can be controlled and treated with good oral hygiene and regular professional cleaning. More severe forms of periodontal disease can also be treated successfully but may require more extensive treatment.”
Because the GHC Dental Hygiene clinic does not offer restorative or comprehensive dental care, patients can receive preventive care in the clinic every 12 months with the recommendation that the patient see a dentist for comprehensive care, including any restorative needs.
Potential patients should be aware that there could be a wait time depending on the time of year they reach out and the number of available appointments with students. Because this is a teaching clinic, patients may need to return for several visits. The fee covers the completion of care, and patients are not charged per visit.
The GHC Dental Hygiene clinic is open to all members of the community and does not accept insurance. To schedule an appointment, call 706-295-6760, and for more information click here.