Supervised dental hygienist students will spend longer than the typical time it would take on your exam and cleaning, and you will pay a bargain rate.
CHAMPAIGN — The first dental cleaning Mary Cheung got in recent years made her feel so much better, she was all smiles.
She wanted that care sooner, but without dental insurance, she says, "I cannot afford it."
The cleaning Cheung, 59, of Champaign, got Tuesday came free at Parkland College's dental hygiene clinic.
Both Parkland and Lake Land College operate clinics that offer dental hygiene care to the public, and both are taking appointments.
For those who are interested, here's the deal: Supervised dental hygienist students will spend longer than the typical time it would take on your exam and cleaning, and you will pay a bargain rate (and sometimes, at Parkland, nothing) for your care, because you're helping them learn.
Average appointments at both clinics run four hours, according to the two colleges.
But the charges may be well worth your time: Appointments at Parkland's dental hygiene clinic run $10, or they're free for kids under age 11, adults over age 65 and anyone on public aid or Medicaid.
Appointments at Lake Land's clinic cost $15 for adults and $10 for students.
Lake Land's clinic has openings through July 31, at which point the clinic will close for a few weeks until it reopens Aug. 26 for the fall semester.
"Currently we have a lot of available appointments," said Lake Land spokeswoman Jennifer Forneris.
Parkland's clinic will close at the end of next week for the summer, and is now taking appointments for when it reopens Aug. 18.
Note, these clinics aren't full-service dental offices. They offer such preventive services as cleanings, exams, X-rays and fluoride treatments, with student hygienists supervised by dentists and professional hygienist/instructors, spokeswomen at both colleges say.
"We can't be their dentist, if they need fillings and such," says Deborah Thomason, the dental hygiene program director at Lake Land.
Neither the Lake Land nor Parkland clinics require patients to meet any income standards or to be uninsured to schedule appointments. But there are some differences between the two clinics to be aware of.
Lake Land's clinic welcomes return visits from its patients, and has a number of patients who get regular hygiene care there, Thomason says.
Peg Boyce, program director at Parkland, says the clinic there "can't be somebody's regular dental home, where they come here every year to get their teeth cleaned.
"Our focus is mostly adults, and our need for our students to actually complete their requirements are patients that have more moderate to severe tartar and infections in their mouth," she says.
An appointment for a cleaning for someone who hasn't had one for a number of years can take four appointments, one for each quadrant, Boyce said, but the $10 fee is paid just once.
Patients coming to Parkland are also offered as part of their exams screenings for blood pressure and oral and throat cancer, she says, and sealants are also available for kids.
"I'm always surprised at how many people in this community do not know about our dental clinic," Boyce says. "Even with changes in resources to community colleges, I think our dental hygiene clinic is quite a resource to our community."
How to book a college dental hygiene appointment
— Find it: On Parkland's main campus at 2400 W. Bradley Ave., C, room L-148. (Park in lot M-6).
— Hours: Vary by semester, with current one ending next week.
— Call: 217-351-2221. Appointments are being scheduled for the fall semester, which begins Aug. 18. Messages left in between semesters will be checked.
Lake Land College
— Find it: 5001 Lake Land Blvd., Mattoon, in the Northwest Building, room 116.
— Hours: Can vary by semester. The current hours (through July 31) are noon-4 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday, and 8 a.m. to noon Thursday.
— Call: 217-234-5249