What is a dental clinic? Strictly speaking, a dental clinic is a facility where dentists and dental staff provide care. But you’ll often hear the term used to mean a place where dental services are available at a lower cost than at a private practice.
Dental clinics also frequently serve an educational purpose. They are often associated with university dental schools. In contrast, private practices or “dental offices” are owned by a dentist or an associated medical institution.
Why should you care about the dental clinics vs. dental offices definition? Because knowing dental clinics treat patients for less without sacrificing the quality of care can help you affordably achieve and maintain good oral health.
People who ask, “What is a dental clinic?” may be wondering whether a dental clinic can’t or won’t provide the same level of care a private dental practice does. Although dental services cost less at clinics, clinics don’t charge less because they are somehow inferior to private practices.
Some dental clinics charge less because they treat patients in “dental deserts”—areas where people have little or no access to dental offices. Rural and low-income areas often face this lack of access. Clinics in these locations provide low-cost or free dental services for the public good.
Other clinics—including Penn Dental Medicine (PDM), a clinic of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in Philadelphia, PA—charge less because they are educational institutions. Clinics connected to dental schools use student doctors, working under the close supervision of experienced faculty. Each patient a student treats makes a valuable contribution to the future dentist’s education.
Wait times and treatment times may be longer at teaching clinics than at private practices. But in return, patients get exceptionally close attention from highly motivated students who are the next generation of dentists.
Patients also get lower bills. At PDM, for example, our costs are 50%-70% lower, on average, than those of private practices.
At a dental school clinic, you’ll likely find a wide range of dental services under one roof. Student doctors need exposure to and experience in not only general dentistry but also specializations.
At PDM, we offer these services:
When you visit a dental clinic, you will receive a dental and brief physical examination, and you’ll answer questions about your medical history. Depending upon your situation, you may undergo additional screening and testing. This comprehensive approach matters because oral health is a vital component of overall health.
Your assigned dentist will discuss dental services available to you and develop your customized treatment plan. Your dentist will also encourage and equip you to practice proper oral hygiene and to schedule annual or twice-yearly checkups.
At Penn Dental Medicine, we help patients in and around Philadelphia, PA, maximize their oral health. We provide all our services in a positive environment centered on patients, customized to their needs.
We’re a clinic operating in conjunction with one of the nation’s leading dental schools. Our student dentists and the experienced professionals supervising them stay abreast of the latest developments in the field and use advanced technology.
And we do it all for far less than you would pay at a private practice. Our educational mission means you pay only what is necessary to cover your treatment and the clinic’s operating costs.
Still asking, “What is a dental clinic and how can it help me?” Download our free eBook, Dental Work Without the Stress. It further explains the most common conditions we treat at PDM. It also explains how we can help you with as little physical and financial stress as possible.