We are going to tell you how to get your dental treatment absolutely free by having it carried out by dental students. I suppose the first question to ask is, is it really free? The simple answer is yes, it’s absolutely free, and it’s as free as anything that you can get which is possible to get free!
How to apply
Before you can think about having free dental treatment, you need to know how you can get your foot into the doorway. There are generally two ways in which you can get free dental treatment by dental students. The first way is where you are already with your normal high street dentist, but the treatment that you need is either too complex or too expensive and you may then ask your dentist to refer you to the dental hospital. In this way, you can get free dental treatment by dental students.
However, a dentist just cannot refer anybody to have free dental treatment at a dental hospital by dental students. There must be certain specific criteria on when, and how, your dentist can refer you to a Dental Hospital to have free dental treatment carried out by dental students.
One of the ways in which your dentist could refer you, is when he or she has tried a particular treatment and it has not been successful. An example is where you have gum disease, and the gum disease is just not responding to the treatment that your dentist has been carrying out
Another way to get free dental treatment by dental students is if your dentist refers you for more complex treatment. As an example, you may have a tooth where the dentist wants to extract, however he thinks there may be a way by doing complex treatment whereby you may be able to save the tooth. If this complex way is either too expensive or not even available on the NHS, he or she may suggest that there may be a chance for you to get that treatment done for free by dental students at the dentists.
Of course, you cannot just have any treatment, you cannot just get referred for anything; as we have mentioned above you have to fulfil certain criteria. The other way to get referred or to go to a dental school for free dental treatment by dental students is to literally self-refer.
You can ring or even go to your nearest dental college, and ask if you can be put on their waiting list for treatment to be carried out by students. Whether or not you will be put on the list depends on their policy and also if they actually need to have their waiting list topped up. Usually the dental hospital will have a waiting list, and when that waiting list gets beyond a certain capacity they will stop adding more names onto the waiting list. However, with time, the waiting list will get smaller and then at some point they will start to take on new patients until the waiting list is full and the cycle repeats.
How it works
So, let’s assume that you have been successful in getting an actual appointment to see a dentist at the dental hospital. The first step will be usually where you get seen by a senior qualified dentist or a lecturer. Although you may have lots of students around you during this visit, it will be the actual senior dentist or dental lecturer who will do your first check-up and basically do a screening.
The screening is important because it will tell the dental hospital who will be the best person to do your dental treatment. If for example you need a simple clean and polish, you may be then allocated to a first-year dental student. However, if you need something like a root canal treatment, you may be allocated to a more senior student such as a third-year student. There can even be a situation where you may need fairly specialized treatment or even pioneering treatment, and in these cases you will be asked if you can see a research student or more senior lecturer. So once you have been allocated a dentist after your initial screening, all you have to do is just turn up to the appointments!
Of course, free dental treatment by dental students may be sounding too good to be true – which it is to some extent – but not if you know the disadvantages. So we have talked about one disadvantage, in that you need to be put on a waiting list even before you get seen by a dental student. Waiting lists of course can vary to a few weeks to a few months, sometimes there are problems with the dental school admin systems and you can be lost and go off radar. . . then you have to put your name back on again on the waiting list – or try to kick up a fuss first, so that they can put you right at the top of the waiting list and not right at the bottom of the waiting list to start all over again!
One of the biggest disadvantages in going to see a dental student for your free dental treatment is time. A treatment which takes two visits of 30 minutes each at your high street dentist, will take at least several visits, possibly even into double figures and at least an hour long appointments. There are a number of reasons why treatment times will seem to take absolutely ages. The first most obvious reason is that you are being seen by an inexperienced dental student and therefore they will be very slow in carrying out even the most basic treatments.
Let’s take an example where you need to have an injection. At your normal high street dentist, the injection will take a maximum of 30 seconds and no more than a five-minute wait before you can have the treatment on your tooth. At the dental hospital the dental student will sit you in the chair, then go and find the senior lecturer to get permission to start on the injection. This can take easily 10-15 minutes, and then the dental student will administer the injection and this can take easily five or ten minutes while the dental student is being careful and slow. It is not unusual for the injection not to work first time, so then he will have another go and perhaps another go after that.
By the time a normal High Street dentist would have all the treatment done, the dental student will just be at the stage where he has just about got your tooth numb. And that’s the easy bit! You can guess how long the actual treatment will then take! Dental Hospital treatments are usually booked in one and a half hour blocks, even if you only need a filling; it is not unusual to find that afterwards the dentist is still cleaning out the cavity and therefore has to place only a temporary filling today, so you can be called back for another one and a half hour session.
So the major disadvantage in having free dental treatment by dental students is the time each treatment takes. This is mainly due to the dentist being inexperienced and having also to have every single stage during the filling or the dental treatment procedure checked by a senior lecturer. The other thing to bear in mind is that all of the treatments will be carried out during normal office hours. The appointments also will be just given to you without you having much of a say as to whether they are convenient for you or not.
Free dental treatment by dental students is the big advantage of going to a Dental Hospital or dental school for your dental treatment. You can save hundreds and even thousands of pounds in this way.
Most patients think that the treatment that you will get by the dental students will be third grade. You will be surprised to learn that the standard of treatment is actually very high and very often even higher than what you would find at a normal high street dentist. There are several reasons for this, which includes the fact that on the high street a dentist does have to work very quick to meet his overheads and expenses – obviously it’s like any other business. At the dental hospital, a dental student is in no hurry to carry out however long you need that treatment to be done correctly.
The treatment is always checked by a senior dentist and only passed if it reaches a high-standard. The other advantage of having dental treatment at a Dental Hospital is that if you need any work such as crowns, bridge work, veneers, or dentures, then you know that the dental lab who makes it will be working to a very high standard.
Another advantage of having free dental treatment by dental students is that you may be allocated a final-year dentist for your dental treatment. This dentist is almost as good as a qualified dentist because in a few short months he or she will be allowed to work as a fully independent dentist on the high street.
Overall, it can be well worthwhile to consider having free dental treatment by dental students. You obviously as a patient need to have lots of time and patience; as having any dental treatment for free in a Dental Hospital is a lengthy procedure and many visits may be required.
If in doubt, you can always go and be seen by the dental students; and if worse comes to worse, you can always opt out at the last minute and go back to your normal high street dentist.
Finally to finish off, we have known cases where a patient has gone to the dental hospital and has actually established a really good rapport with a particular student dentist; who then on qualifying will actually take you as a patient when they go to work on the high street as their own fully qualified independent dentist.
So it’s worth giving it a shot, after all the only thing you’re committing at the beginning is your time.