I screen new patients at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine three days a week. These patients represent all kinds of people including new immigrants, the poor, homeless, university students, retired and even executives with time on their hands. It is difficult to understand why educated adults freely choose to be practice patients for dental students and even pay for the privilege.
Look up Tufts Dental School on www.yelp.com. There are 15 reviews with an average rating of 3.5 stars. Comments range from, “On the one hand you will often and regularly get a “second opinion.” On the other hand, you may very well get 10 different opinions, which really doesn’t help.” to “Everyone is very kind, warm, funny (they all seem to get along), and knows what they’re doing. It does take a little longer, but it’s cheap and I feel like the student cares more.”
Yes, every dental student is friendly, smart and interesting. Over 4000 qualified people apply for admission to Tufts Dental every year. The each class is about 170 of the best. Dental students are top graduates of colleges all over the world. Many patients enjoy spending time with their student dentists while watching them learn their profession.
The comment about so many opinions is correct. At Tufts, students give every patient a thorough exam. Exams include consultations with a minimum of three instructors. Complex cases may include recommendations from several more. The final treatment plan is approved by the student, the practice coordinator (the dentist who heads up the student’s group practice) and the patient.
After the exam, the student prints up the treatment plan for the patient. The treatment plan is the list of procedures the patient agrees to. A typical treatment plan will include prophylaxis (cleaning), amalgam and composite fillings, and crowns or dentures. The patient will find that treatment at the dental school will cost a half to a third the cost of treatment in a private office.
The large number of instructors assure the quality of any procedure. Instructors may swoop in and complete a procedure for a student who is taking too long or having difficulty completing the procedure. Whether the student or the instructor completes the procedure, it is done to the best of anyone’s ability, or it will be done over.Everyone lives for happy endings. For some patients it may be the the end of their treatment plan. Others may celebrate their student dentist’s graduation and the assignment of a new young dentist in training. The phone number for patient admissions at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine is (617) 636-6828.