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