As reported by WFSB Channel 3, May 16, 2008.

Clinics Offer Affordable Dental Care

Patients Save with Dental Students

The state's need for affordable dental care was obvious last month during the state Dental Association's Mission of Mercy clinics.

Thousands of people showed up in Tolland to receive free dental care, and some had to be turned away.

However, there is a place in Connecticut where virtually anyone can go to get dental care at a fraction of the cost of going to a private practice dentist.

The University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine operates dental clinics at the UConn Medical Center in Farmington.

"Last year we saw just over 94,000 patient visits here in Farmington," said Dr. Steven Lepowsky.

That number translates to hundreds of patients each day.

"The average fees here tend to be significantly less than most private dental settings. Our fees are generally a third to a half less," Lepowsky said.

Most dental procedures are performed at the clinic.

"Exams, cleanings, periodontal treatment or gum treatment, endodontics or root canal, oral surgery, prosthodontics, including crowns, bridges, dentures, partials, pediatric dentistry, oral pathology," he said.

The patients are cared for in student or resident clinics.

"The appointments are rather long, so you need to, you know, have time in your schedule to be able to come and sit for three or four hours," said resident Dr. Liza Baranowski.

That time allows dental faculty to check the work of their students at every step.

"There's always going to be someone looking over your shoulder, so you're going to get the best care," said fourth-year dental student Thomas Sterio.

Patient Peter Montgomery, of Warren, is a patient at the clinic.

"I don't have insurance coverage. I'm a small business person. I knew that when I came over here, I'd get good coverage by the students as well as supervision by the doctors," he said.

"The state average for a crown is just under $1,000. If a patient has a crown done by a resident, the fee currently is $700. The fee for being done by a third of fourth-year student is current approximately $400," said Lepowsky.

He said a private-practice dentist charges an average of $70 for a cleaning. He said with a UConn dental student the cost is $30; with a resident it's $40.

He said that the school also offers orthodontic care. He said the price for orthodontic care is about $1,600 to $1,800 -- about half of what it would be paid outside the clinic setting.

To schedule an appointment, call the clinic at 860-679-3415. To schedule orthodontic work, call 860-679-2664.