Bargain Thursday is back and we have found a way to save thousands of dollars on braces. This is a place where you can truly get access to affordable dental care even in an emergency.
Daniel Medina has been waiting for this day since his permanent teeth came in.
"He's about to do what?"
"Off-take 'em off. I'm actually really excited," says Medina.
Nearly three years ago graduate dental student Dr. Kyle Fagula put braces on Medina's teeth. Today he takes them off and in a matter of weeks Fagula will open his own orthodontic office in Germantown. But his journey began with Medina.
Medina couldn't afford braces.
"They were pretty high, $7,000 - $8,000," he said.
That was until he found out about the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Dental School.
"I actually paid $3,600 here, and I saved about $4,000 coming to UT."
UT Dental offers reduced-cost specialty, emergency, even routine dental care to people who are uninsured or under insured.
"If they come to the school they're going to get treatment at a reduced rate compared to the outside," said Dr. John Seeberg, Assistant Dean for Clinical Affairs.
This is not news to Derrick Landford. This is his daughter Morgan's first visit but his third child to bring to the dental school.
"It saves us a lot," Landford said. "A lot of people probably don't even know they can go and get assistance for dental and medical things."
In the middle of the undergraduate clinic there are 127 stations and it's a busy place. By the end of the year there will be 40,000 patient visits.
UT tells FOX13 News there is plenty of room for more patients, if you have the patience.
"They have to spend undue amounts of time here to get care provided," Dr. Seeberg said. "If we didn't give them a bonus and a significant reduction of fees we wouldn't have any patients here."
"It's great ... feels like family," said Toni Elmore, who for the last two years has been a patient of student Walt Stinson.
"It's a great experience for us and the patient," Stinson said. "They get the care they need, we get experience we need to become top of the line dentists."
"I had a crown done on a tooth and at a normal dentist office can cost $1,500," Elmore added. "It's only cost me $500 here."
Students do the work. Instructors are nearby and follow up after each step. "There's always multiple sets of eyes looking at the work," Stinson says.
But if you have dental emergency you can usually be seen the next weekday. Abscessed teeth or severe pain, the waiting room opens early and is usually crowded. But it's a Godsend to those in pain.
"We try to take care of every person who comes in with real problems," Dr. Seeberg said.
For routine visits you first go to orientation where you learn the rules: you must keep appointments and it's pay as you go.
"I think I paid $100 per visit once a month," Medina said.
If you don't mind the details, Medina is proof the UT Dental School can give even the most financially strapped a reason to smile.
Here's the number to call if you want to become a patient of the UT College of Dentistry:
901-448-6241 or go to http://www.uthsc.edu/dentistry/Patients/
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