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UCLA Magazine Winter 2002
It's not your parents dorm anymore
Outside the Ivory Tower
A beautiful Mind
The Long March
The New Scientists
Critical Care

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Winter 2002
Outside the Ivory Tower
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Spacious and airy, the clinic is bright with sunlight that streams through wide windows. Dressed in white and blue scrubs, some two dozen dental students, as well as hygienists, assistants and the UCLA School of Dentistry faculty who oversee them, work at stations furnished with state-of-the-art equipment. The clinic provides an opportunity for dental students to hone their skills, under the direct supervision of faculty, in a setting akin to a family practice.

Most patients are referred to the center from the Venice Family Clinic, a UCLA-supported program that provides health-care services to low-income members of the community. Children comprise about 17 percent of the dental clinic's patients. "Some of these kids are 12 years old and have never seen a dentist," says fourth-year dental student Jaymie Coria. "A lot of these patients need full-mouth rehabilitation."

The clinic's services aren't altogether free, but its fees are lower than those of private-practice dentists, and Medicare, Medi-Cal and other public programs help to cover costs. While some funding is threatened by state and county budget cuts, the clinic is determined it won't turn people away, says Christie. "If someone were to come in with an emergency, with a tooth that is bothering them and they have no money, we would take care of them," she says.

Joel Bouchereau, a day laborer, came to the center recently with just such a problem. "I've neglected my teeth for years," he said when he showed up one afternoon with an excruciating toothache.

"They fixed that and also found quite a few other problems," Bouchereau says, not the least of which were three missing front teeth. "They worked on me for two or three hours and now I can smile again," he says, showing off three brand-new caps.

"I feel very comfortable here," he says. "I can't wait for my next appointment."

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