by Nick Brengle
Do you need your teeth cleaned but cant afford the cost due to having no insurance? Well, look no further, because you can now receive low-cost dental work here at St. Petersburg College.
In 1963 St. Petersburg College introduced the Dental Hygiene program at the Caruth Health Education Center on the corner of Park Blvd and 66th Street. Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the program, which in 2002 began offering a Bachelor’s degree in the same study. While the Dental Hygiene program is held in high regards around the nation for its excellent curriculum and high success rate of passing the national board examination, they have continued to offer affordable dental care to the public. The program also makes large contributions by volunteering around the community.
Year-round the dental Hygiene Program offers affordable dental work at the on-campus clinic. For $45, patients are eligible for a variety of treatments including oral cancer screening, sealant placements, oral prophylaxis (cleaning), scaling and rooting (deep cleaning), antibiotic treatment, oral hygiene instruction, radiographs, air and amalgam polishing, and recommendations to a restorative treatment facility.
If a patient has had x-rays taken in the past five years then this will only cost $30. Children from the ages of 5-18 are welcome at the clinic but only with parental supervision during the visit.
Personally, my visit to the clinic was professional and educational, from getting x-rays taken, to the comprehensive lecture about flossing. Every time the student completed a certain task an instructor would also then attend to make sure everything is being done properly. At the conclusion of my visit I was given a new toothbrush, and some samples of floss, toothpaste and mouthwash.
The average dental cleaning is anywhere from $75-$200, depending on the office and location. X-rays alone can range from $100-$300. Deep cleanings, which covers scaling, and root planning can jump from $500-$4000 depending on how many quadrants (four quadrants in the mouth, upper right and left, lower right and left) need to be attended to. Not to mention the average dental office doesn’t always offer the thorough explanation of proper oral care.
Ariel Tiznado, a sophomore in the program says, “I chose dental hygiene as a career because I want to help people maintain a healthy oral lifestyle and increase their confidence.”
At a young age Ariel tells me she had to visit the dentist office’s frequently, and over the years she grew fond of the dentist’s office and the confidence she was given. This, in turn, made it an easy decision when choosing her path at St. Pete College. She goes on to explain that the St. Pete College Dental Hygiene program is one of the top schools to attend because of the high success rate of students who pass the national boards examination in Gainesville, Florida. “It is one thing to get through two years of the program, but what really matters at the end of the day is passing the national board examination,” Ariel explains.
I also spoke with sophomore and military veteran Keith Duron, the president of the dental hygiene class of 2013. “I had the choice of an administrative or clinical path. I chose what I felt was the more rewarding career,” he said. Keith went on to talk about the idea that dental hygienist’s are more appreciated by their patients. “It feels great knowing your building someone’s confidence.” Most people are uneducated about the proper care for their teeth and these students pride themselves on teaching the correct ways to preserve your smile for the rest of your life.
While the Dental Hygiene program takes patients at their home clinic in Pinellas Park, it also makes rotations to various public health facilities in the area. This includes attending public schools to educate children on proper oral care to jump-start the idea of a healthy smile, even though most children never want to brush their teeth. Several times a year an advisory board with representatives from SPC and the dental community discuss the needs of the program, school and community efforts.
Danielle Dickinson, a registered Dental Hygienist for over twenty-six years has been on staff at SPC for six years now. She tells me, “each year our Hygiene students conduct teaching and learning sessions in various locations throughout Pinellas County as a part of their community dental hygiene curriculum.” These locations include preschools and grade schools, as well as nursing homes and mental health facilities. “Many of our students enter into the public health sector after graduating from SPC because of their positive experiences in this class.”
She tells me that the program has always had a strong reputation for excellence. With their dedicated staff, high-caliber students, and being fully accredited by the American Dental Hygiene Council on Dental Accreditation (CODA).
CODA, established in 1975, is nationally recognized by the United States Department Of Education to accredit dental and dental-related education programs conducted at the post-secondary level. CODA’s mission is to serve the public by establishing, maintaining and applying standards that ensure the quality and continuous improvement of dental and dental-related education and reflect the evolving practice of dentistry.
“St. Petersburg College dental hygiene students have consistently maintained a 100% PASS rate on the National and State examinations throughout the existence of the program,” said Ms. Dickinson.
So before you think about spending your hard-earned money at the local dental office think about your fellow Titans. Make an appointment today and get your smile on the right track.
Caruth Health Education Center
7200 66th Street North