Oral health important even in tough economy

The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry doesn’t want oral health to be pushed aside during difficult economic times.

The college’s clinics have lost nearly 4,500 patients — the majority of whom are low income — since last year when the Illinois legislature eliminated adult dental services from its Medicaid program and limited reimbursement for care to strictly “emergency” extractions.

The college is losing opportunities to train dental students, said Dr. David Clark, associate dean for clinical affairs.

“Our goal is to promote optimum oral and general health to the people of the state of Illinois through patient care,” Clark said. “We recognize the hardship the economy and the reduced-covered adult Medicaid services have placed on people, and we are developing ways to help those who have nowhere else to turn.”

To assist those who are in need of dental care but cannot afford a private dentist, the college is continuing to offer new patient screenings for $67 at its undergraduate comprehensive care clinics. The cost includes a panoramic X-ray and examination.

The three undergraduate teaching clinics — each clinic has 56 operatories — offer a complete range of dental and oral health services, Clark said. Since it is an educational facility, all of the treatments are provided by dental students and supervised by experienced dental faculty.

The clinic is not free, but it does operate on a reduced fee schedule, Clark said. Those fees were reduced further on Jan. 7, he said. The cost of treatment is lower than at a private dental clinic, he said.

Following a complete dental evaluation of the patient, a cost estimate will be provided. Payment by cash, personal check, or credit/debit cards is required at the time of treatment.

In addition to its three undergraduate clinics, the college has specialty clinics that provide advanced treatment for implants, endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, oral medicine, orthodontics, pediatrics, periodontics and prosthodontics.

For additional information, visit the college’s clinic website http://bitly.com/1029rwb or call (312) 996-1265.

UIC ranks among the nation’s leading research universities and is Chicago’s largest university with 27,500 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state’s major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world. For more information about UIC, please visit www.uic.edu.