It's never good news to find out you need a root canal. It's even worse if you can't afford the procedure. Fortunately, the LSU School of Dentistry offers dental procedures ranging from extractions to braces — all at discounted prices.
"We are generally between one-third and one-fourth the price of private practice," says Dr. John R. Gallo, assistant dean of clinical affairs at the LSU School of Dentistry. "Any kind of dentistry that's out there, we do." Gallo shares information about how to schedule appointments at the dental school and what to expect.
What's the procedure for getting started as a patient? Can you just make an appointment and show up?
Gallo: If someone wants to be a patient, I have to set up a screening, which entails a brief medical history and dental exam. Because this is a teaching environment, we can't treat every case that comes in. We wouldn't treat someone who is severely medically compromised or a complex case beyond what the student can handle. If you're accepted, you will be called in, a student takes your case, takes X-rays, does a thorough exam and comes up with a treatment plan of what you need and what the fees are.
How long does it take to get treated after you make the first call?
G: Four weeks is a good estimate. I would guess it takes about two weeks to get the screening appointment set up. From that time to the time it gets assigned to a student, it could be another two or three weeks.
So if you're having a dental crisis, this wouldn't be the place to go.
G: We do not take walk-in emergencies, because we aren't set up for them. If someone has a true emergency, we have a dental clinic at LSU Interim Hospital. They have to treat the emergency, even if you don't have any money.
What kind of procedures does the school of dentistry offer?
G: We treat everything. We do extrac-tions, root canals, dentures, fillings, crowns, implants. Some procedures are much lower [in cost] because we need the procedures so badly, we almost give them away. Root canals are unbelievably inexpensive. We do them for around $90.
Do you offer regular cleanings for patients?
G: When you are a patient and we are doing your dental work, we take care of oral hygiene needs. After we finish the work and have you restored back to where there is no disease, we do one more cleaning and release you. You have to maintain [the results] yourself in private practice. We can't be a permanent dental home. If we did that, we would have so many patients we couldn't treat new ones. For children, it's different. We will keep them as long as they are a kid, and we have an orthodontic program.
How many patients does LSU School of Dentistry treat?
G: At any given time, we have a patient pool that runs between 5,000 and 7,000. It changes throughout the school year, but that's ballpark.
What should patients expect at their appointment?
G: The appointments take longer, because students don't work as fast as private practice [dentists]. More appointments will be involved because of that. I could do four fillings in a session, but one of my students might take two sessions. All the work must be supervised by a licensed dentist throughout the whole procedure. That is state law and an accreditation standard.
What is the actual treatment area like? Can students administer nitrous oxide?
G: It's a big, open clinic. We have 70 dental chairs and there is a partition between each chair. Nitrous oxide is available.
How does a person register to become a patient?
G: Call (504) 619-8770 or (504) 619- 8700. Our website (www.lsusd.lsuhsc.edu/patients.html) has a lot of information about what to expect and payment options. We are accepting new patients.
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