Dental Colleges in D.C., Baltimore Offer Residents Low-Cost Alternative

Cynthia Livingston has been getting her teeth fixed at the Howard University College of Dentistry since she was 9 years old. Livingston won’t give her current age, but it’s a safe guess that was more than a few decades ago.

Over those years, she said, she had a lot of work done, from tooth extractions to crowns.

 “I’ve had fillings and root canals, almost anything you can think of having done at a dental office,” said Livingston, director of Community Services at Howard University Hospital.  “They’ve done excellent work. I’ve never been dissatisfied.           

“It’s also cheaper than going out to a public dentist,” she said with a wink.

Livingston is one of thousands of adults and children in the region who receive free or low-cost dental care at Howard University and the University of Maryland in Baltimore

“You can save as much as a third to a half of what you would normally pay,” said Michelle Aguilos, 26, president of the Student Council at Howard’s College of Dentistry and one of the many students who provide dental care to the Washington-area community.

A fourth-year student, Aguilos encourages residents to use the school whether they have insurance or not because of the prices and because the students offer quality care.

“You know it’s done right, because the faculty are right there for every step in the process,” she explained.

The college provides a wide variety of dental services, including orthodontic care, such as braces and other methods to align the teeth, dental care for children, deep cleanings below the gums, extractions, crowns and dental surgery. 

For those living in the Baltimore area, the dental college at the University of Maryland in Baltimore offers similar services.  Established in 1840, the University of Maryland School of Dentistry is the world’s first dental college.

“Here in Baltimore, we are a complete and comprehensive service for dental care,” said Megan Moorefield, assistant director for the Office of Institutional Advancement. “We specialize in a variety of services, which include oral surgery and dental hygiene.”

For the fiscal year of 2011, the school treated 24,366 adults and 5,220 children, Moorefield said.

“We also have Plus Clinic, which is the state’s largest dental treatment center for HIV patients,” she said.

The Rev. Morris Shearin, the pastor of Israel Baptist Church in Washington, uses Howard’s College of Dentistry for his dental work.

“It’s great that the students are the ones providing the service,” Shearin, 71, said. “I’ve been to the College of Dentistry twice, and each time the student I had was excellent.”

April Powers, a fourth-year student, is Shearin’s student dentist. She has been doing partial replacements of his upper and lower dentures.

“I felt comfortable the whole time,” Shearin said. “I recommend that everyone take advantage of the College of Dentistry’s services.”

Howard’s students also use the college.

Angelica Hill, 21, of Columbia, S.C., turned to the College of Dentistry when she needed to have her four wisdom teeth pulled.

“It was $400 a tooth, and I needed all four done,” said Hill, a graduating senior. “I really couldn’t afford it.”

So, she headed to the College of Dentistry during her sophomore year where she had the procedure done at no cost.

“It was good,” Hill said.  “I was afraid to have my teeth pulled.  The students made me feel comfortable. The students did everything, but the dentists would make sure it was done correctly.”

The dental clinic at Howard University has daytime and evening hourse. It is open:

§      10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday

§      2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

§      5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Leo E. Rouse, dean of the college, said to have students working on people from the Washington community is an important part of their education.

“Our goal is preparing graduates to give back,” Rouse said.   “It’s not just about drilling and filling; it’s all about service.”

Reporter Kelsey Evers contributed to this story.