As a young girl, every morning before I left for school my mother would never fail to ask if I brushed my teeth and I am rather embarrassed to say as a 3rd grader I would often sigh and ask, " Do I have to brush my teeth?" My wise mother would promptly answer, "You don't have to brush your teeth - just the ones you want to keep." It is no secret that dental hygiene is an extremely important aspect of good health and bright, tooth "acheless" smiles!
As a new resident to the Fort Dodge area I have been actively searching for a low cost, family friendly place to take my family for regular dental cleanings and checkups. I was excited to find, (As excited as one can be about dental hygiene and the ominous "You're- not-flossing- properly" speech I always get"!) a wonderful program out of Iowa Central Community College that has state of the art equipment and provides low cost cleanings, checkups, education, full mouth x-rays, bleaching trays, fluoride treatments, night guards/athletic mouth guards and so much more.
The dental hygiene program is proud to be part of the community and has partnered with WIC, Head Start, The Public Health Department and Community Health to bring free or low cost services and education to the city of Fort Dodge and the surrounding area. While on my journey to find out about the ICCC Dental Program, I spoke with the helpful and peppy coordinator of the Dental Hygiene Program, Renee Piper.
Dr. Matt Maggio and students Brittany Arwine and Toni Peters practicing local anesthesia.
Piper stated, "Our students need patients!"
One of my first questions to her was, "How are the student hygienists chosen? If I came to get a check up who would be cleaning my teeth?" Piper explained that the Iowa Central Dental Program does not have a waiting list for the students of the program. Each hygienist (a total of 14 chosen every year) is specifically chosen through a selection process.
This selection process is based on 5 segments: GPA, two letters of reference, written essay, one on one interview, 12 hours of observation of a hygienist at 2 different dental offices and volunteer/ work experience. This selection process allows the program to bring in serious students who are shown to be more successful in the program and on the national written board examinations. Each student hygienist is overseen by a board certified dentist and staff hygienist and every step of the process is supervised and checked. (The student to teacher ratio is five to one.)
What you must know to arrange for your chocolate mint polish and bright smile!
You can contact ICCC Dental Hygiene Clinic at (515) 574-1327 or
1-800-362-2793, ext. 1327 to schedule an appointment or talk to the coordinator.
The address is-1 Triton Circle, Fort Dodge, IA, 50501 the office is located at Iowa Central in the Applied Science and Technology Building. Parking is on the north side of the building across from the bookstore.
Be prepared to spend at least 2 to 3 hours for a standard check up and cleaning.
The ICCC Dental Hygiene Program accepts Title 19 and all insurance. It is your responsibility to consult with your insurance company for details on your covered or non-covered services. You will receive a "super bill" that you can send in for reimbursement from your insurance company. Payment is required in full when services are rendered. All staff dentists, hygienists and student hygienists have copies of the current fee schedule and should be able to discuss fees with you prior to any services provided.
All patients with dental emergencies should seek care in a private dental office. Though there is a staff dentist available for consultation all work that requires a dentist will be referred to a dental office or to Community Health Center where a practicing dentist is available.
You can get detailed information and answers to most of your questions at http://www.iowacentral.edu/health_science/programs/dental_hygiene
Feeling confident that my family and I would be in good hands I proceeded to ask the question most people want to know, "What is the cost of a general cleaning/checkup?"
I must admit I smiled when I heard the words, "half the cost of a general dental office visit."
The clinic accepts Title 19 and all insurance but because the program does no billing within their office you are given a "superbill" which you are expected to pay at the time of service and then submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. The average cost of an adult cleaning is $55 and $35 for children.
The one commitment you must make if you would like to save a substantial amount of money and get a first class cleaning is that you should be prepared to spend at least 2 to 3 hours in the dental chair since everything is supervised and checked and rechecked throughout the process.
As a parent you may be asking, "How old should my child be when I take them to their first dental checkup?" The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry states that the first dental visit should be when your child's first tooth erupts. In Iowa the law dictates that dental screenings are required before a child starts kindergarten and before 7th grade.
The thought of your child screaming as the hygienist tries to peer in your toddler's mouth may not sound like a fun thing to do but take heart, the clinic at Iowa Central caters to children. Hygienists are taught to treat each child individually and to practice "Show, Tell and Do" a process by which the hygienist allows the child to hold different items as they "help out", hear about each step of what will be happening to them, ride the dentist chair, and if need be have their mom or dad hold them on their lap as the hygienist looks in their mouth.
My boys were especially excited about the fun movies they can watch as they are getting their teeth cleaned and I can't wait to try the chocolate mint polish! This program is such a friendly place, what a great discovery for families in the Fort Dodge area!
I can't end this piece without telling you a top secret technique I learned from Piper, the coordinator at the Iowa Central Community College Clinic on how to keep those uncomfortable X-ray tabs from gagging you as they insert them in your mouth. Are you ready? As they place the tabs in the side of your mouth, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, as you are breathing lift your leg. Yes, you heard me, lift your leg and you won't gag on the tabs!
Remember, you don't have to take care of your teeth, only the ones you want to keep.