Students and faculty now have an option for discounted dental care on campus through SIU Dental associates.
The newly opened faculty practice has a rotating staff of two School of Dental Medicine faculty members each weekday. There are currently two general dentists on staff and the rest have specialties ranging from periodontics to dental radiology.
The clinic accepts most insurance plans and offers a 25 percent discount for enrolled students and a 10 percent discount for faculty. Costs of treatment will be discussed with patients before they begin. There are also financing options available through the SIUE Credit Union.
Dr. Robert Blackwell is the chair of graduate education at the dental school and a dentist at the clinic. He said the on-campus clinic will save time and money for students and faculty due to the location.
“All the faculty that are participating are all very talented clinicians who are leaders in their particular field of interest. So [students and faculty are] going to be able to get high quality care in a location that’s convenient,” Blackwell said.
The clinic has been in the making for a while, but there was a delay in getting the faculty practice incorporated due to the IRS taking two years to approve the application. In the meantime, the building served as a training ground for some of the dental students before the Advanced Care Clinic in Alton, Illinois, was created.
Clinical Associate Professor of Periodontology Dr. Robert Bitter said being at the clinic one day a week has the added benefit of keeping the faculty up to date with the field of dentistry.
“One of the reasons that we have a day like this that we’re given, is that this is what helps us to stay current,” Bitter said. “Because especially today, things are changing so rapidly that if we can’t stay current, we can’t really teach our students what they need.”
Bitter said they offer a little bit of everything. There are open and private operatories that patients can sit in depending on what they are comfortable with or the procedure they are getting done.
There is also a supply of nitrous and oxygen in house due to them becoming increasingly more difficult to obtain from nearby hospitals. The clinic also has a laboratory in case any biopsies need to be done. A cone beam computed tomography machine that takes a 3D image of the patient’s mouth is also available to aid in planning things like implants.
Assistant Clinical Professor Dr. Bret Gruender said the practice is still growing because some dental school faculty members feel more comfortable staying where they have been practicing outside of the university.
“I think where we’re really going to see this [growth] is the newer hires that we have,” Gruender said. “And we’ve had a few of those people who have moved within the last few years that really didn’t have that place to practice.”
SIU Dental Associates is located at 195 University Park Drive and appointments can be made Monday through Friday by calling 650-5781.