Students wait to seek dental care at home

When students at the University of Alabama need access to medical care, they go to the Student Health Center on campus. However, students seeking dental care while in Tuscaloosa might not find it so easy.

Judy Davis, quality improvement coordinator for the Student Health Center, said while the SHC does not offer a dental program, students can call for referrals to local dentist offices.

“As of now, if a student calls in for a general teeth cleaning, we offer a list of all local dental offices in the Tuscaloosa area,” Davis said.

If a student presents the SHC with an urgent problem, the referral nurse will check various factors including the type of insurance the student has and what type of dental care is needed before referring the student to a dentist in Tuscaloosa, she said.

“Hopefully as we continue to grow, [a dental program] will be a service added in the future,” Davis said.

Though most students do wait to visit a dentist in their respective hometowns, there are still some students who might want or need to visit a dentist while here. In those cases, students cannot simply make an appointment with a dentist on campus as they can with medical doctors at the Student Health Center.

While freshman psychology major Kaila Wiggins brushes twice a day and flosses, she admits she would rather wait and visit her dentist at home.

“I feel so much more comfortable with my dentist because I’ve been going to him since I was little,” Wiggins said.

Asia Stephens, a junior majoring in human development and family studies, agreed with Wiggins in that she waits to see a dentist while at home in Illinois.

“I see a dentist every six months to get my teeth cleaned and just to make sure I'm taking good care of them,” Stephens said. “It's just easier for me to wait and go to the dentist I'm already comfortable with.”

Jack Griffith, a freshman majoring in biology, said he thought it would be beneficial if the SHC offered a dental care program in the near future.

“I think it would be good for kids to have access to a wide range of services, especially dental care,” he said.

Douglas Fair, a freshman majoring in biology, agreed about the SHC’s need for a dental program.

“I think that a dental care program would be a good idea for simple checkups just to maintain dental hygiene, but I doubt any student would trust anyone but their usual dentist for more extensive procedures,” Fair said.

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