A new clinic aimed at providing Northeast Oklahomans with less expensive dental care while training the next generation of young dentists is now open to the public.
The OU College of Dentistry’s Delta Dental of Oklahoma Comprehensive Care Clinic, located in OU-Tulsa, will officially hold a ribbon cutting later this month, but began seeing patients a few years ago. weeks, officials said, and already shows why it was desperately needed.
“We are inundated,” said Dr. Rieger Wood, the clinic’s director of operations. “We started screening in June and have accepted about 160 patients. We have almost 100 more waiting in line to get tested.”
Wood added, “I was wondering if we would have enough patients to support this location, support our students. Because you’re basically starting a practice from scratch. So the response has been wonderful.”
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The intent of the state-of-the-art clinic — located on the third floor of the OU Health Physicians Schusterman Center Clinic, 4444 E. 41st St. — is to give dental students a setting in which to learn, Wood said, while providing comprehensive oral care for Oklahomans who need more affordable services.
Service fees are about a third of what they would be in private practice, he said.
Care is provided by third- and fourth-year dental students under the supervision of certified dental faculty members.
The total cost of the new clinic, including equipment and site renovations, was $3.4 million, including $2 million from a donation from OU dental partner Delta Dental of Oklahoma and of its foundation.
Building on OU’s longtime original clinic in Oklahoma City, the Tulsa clinic is the first of several planned clinical expansions throughout the state.
Wood said if the clinic had a need so far, it was for more pediatric patients.
“We have pediatric dentists who are here Thursday afternoons and Friday mornings,” he said. “And pediatric patients don’t need to be screened.”
Officials said Oklahoma’s poor reputation nationally — ranked 49th for access to affordable dental care — was a motivating factor in the college’s decision to expand.
Over the past five years, OU Dentistry has provided dental and emergency care to more than 285,000 patients at the Oklahoma City site, nearly a quarter of them from the northeast of the state, said officials.
The college also serves many indigent patients, many of whom live in northeastern counties and do not have access to dental care.
The new Tulsa clinic “is, I think, one of the best things that has happened to Tulsa in years, because there’s such a need,” said Dr. Sharon Wann, who as assistant director of group practice, supervises the students of the clinic.
“A lot of people from eastern Oklahoma who used to go to Oklahoma City are now being transferred here. We’ve even had patients from Arkansas come in.”
For more information, call 918-619-4000 or go online to dentistry.ouhsc.edu/patients.