First, what is the meaning of the term "dental clinic"? There are really two different meanings out there. The first meaning of the term is a place which offers free or extremely discounted dental services to the public. The second meaning of the term refers to a larger dental office, charging regular rates, but which has multiple dentists working in the same building. It is the first type of dental clinic; the free type; which we will discuss here.
There are dental clinics which offer free or reduced priced dental work to the public. Normally, these clinics are set up to assist low-income and fixed-income families. This can be a great benefit to those who are in need of dental care and cannot afford the normal rates to get their teeth fixed.
There are some drawbacks of these types of clinics, however. The first drawback is the actual availability of the free dental clinics. There are not clinics in every city, and they are definitely not on every corner. This is because the clinics must be funded by the city or county in which they preside. These clinics are usually found in larger cities, but even in large cities there is no guarantee that there will be free dental clinics available in every area. The actual cost to the city to support a free clinic is sizeable. The city has to pay for the cost of the facilities (building, land, utilities, etc.) and has to pay a salary to the dentists who are performing the procedures.
Another drawback of free dental clinics is that the actual services rendered are usually very limited. Most free dental clinics specialize in extractions, since that is the fastest and most cost-effective method of taking care of a person’s problem teeth. Often times, a patient may have been able to save the existing tooth by way of a root canal or crown, but these procedures take much longer to perform and incur considerable outside costs to the clinic. In the case of a dental clinic, the goal is to get as many people in and out of the clinic in as little time as possible. With this in mind, pulling a problem tooth is much quicker and more cost effective than treating a problem tooth with a crown or root canal.
One more drawback of a dental clinic is the availability of the patient getting into the clinic. As you can imagine, in the areas where there are free dental clinics, there are typically thousands of people wanting to get their teeth taken care of. Because of this, there are often long lines or waiting periods which patients must endure in order to get in. One way these clinics operate, is on a first come - first served basis. In these cases, the lines are often extremely long with patients often waiting outside through the night in order to get into the clinic. On the other hand, some clinics will offer a waiting list which a patient can sign up with. Often these waiting lists are over a month long, which is not a lot of help when a person is in pain and needs to get the tooth taken care of!
In general, free dental clinics are a good way to get basic dental care done for low-income families, but there are some drawbacks to these clinics that need to be overcome.