Dental Implants at a Dental School [Interview]

The following is a short interview I did with Jennifer, a visitor of DentalImplantCostGuide.com (like you!) Many people have been asking for more details about what it’s like to get implants done by students of a University’s dental school clinic, so I reached out to a few commenters and Jennifer was kind enough to share her experiences. I hope this helps clear up some of your questions!

First off, where are you from?

I am from New Jersey.

What dental school did you go to?

I went to UMDNJ in Newark, New Jersey. Now I have moved to Florida and I have started to go to NOVA in Miami.

Why did you choose to go there? How did you hear about the program?

I was referred to the dental school by my dentist – I had a lot of work that needed to be done and not much money.

What is the school’s dental clinic like?

It is different than a dentist office.  There are not separate rooms but bays with dental chairs in them.  Each patient sits in one of the open bays, surrounded by standard dental equipment and separated from other people by partitions of cabinets at waist height. It is not particularly private, but the only people who walk past are dental students, occasionally other patients and the teachers. When you need an x-ray, you walk to the x-ray room. It looks like a school or university looks.

What work did you have done?

I had cavities filled, teeth removed, teeth cleaned and debrided, root canal, several crowns placed, crown lengthening, 2 implants, I had gum material cut from one area and “transplanted” to another area where the gums were receding.

How much did the procedures cost?

Much less than at a dentist or endodontist. Over the whole time, I paid approximately $4000.00 – this was over about 2 years. My dentist gave me an estimate of $15,000 to $20,000 for his part, this did not include the endodontist work or the gum transplants or the implants. The school works on a sliding scale, I was at the lower end of the scale.

As for how much the implants cost, they didn’t give me an itemized bill. I know they were really cheap when I started – like $400 or $500 and then of course you have to get the crown which was $300 or so – but because UMDNJ lost a lot of NJ state funding, the prices were going up as I was leaving.  It also varies according to how much you make, they work on a sliding scale.

Even so, the school charges a fraction of the price – 50% off or more compared to a regular clinic. I know I had an implant done by a dentist and it cost $2500 and the crown $1000  so what I paid at the dental school is a fraction of that.

You mentioned that the school took payments. They offered financing?

Yes, so long as I made a payment each time I went. There were some procedures that they wanted paid before I started, so I just kept making the payments as I could. They were as understanding as possible. At one point I had some questions about what had been done, and they worked with me to reverse some of the charges, so that I could get the work finished up

How many visits to the school were required to complete the procedures?

Many, many visits. I would go once a week and then take breaks as need be. The school will take a lot longer than normal dentistry, they are learning and they take things in small steps. The sessions were morning – started around 10am or afternoon – started around 1pm or so, and went for a few hours each time.

Who performed what dental work?

The dental students do mostly all of the work. The advanced stuff was done by a grad student. The students all seemed to know what to do, and they are only allowed to do a small step and then have it checked by a teacher. All of my students were good, caring people.

What were the requirements/qualifications of the dental program?

You call the school and they will tell you if and when they are interviewing. You go in and are evaluated (leave a couple of hours for this). My experience was that they accepted me. They wrote up a care plan and went over it with me.  There were some things on there I did not necessarily agree with, but I accepted it, and some things they added later and some they dropped. They adjusted the plan and the price. I let them add things if they suggested, I thought I may as well take advantage of the good price, I would need to have it done sooner or later.

How much pain/discomfort did you experience?

About the same as at the dentist. They use novocaine, and so long as you are numbed, it does not hurt. They are careful to make sure you are comfortable. They don’t want to hurt you.

How satisfied are you with your implants and other dental work?

Very satisfied. All the students’ work is checked over by at least one teacher doctor, sometimes two. Sometimes the teacher does the work.

What complaints (if any) do you have about the program?

It does take a long time, you have to have patience and be able to invest that time. I figured it was worth it for my overall health.

Would you recommend UMDNJ to other people who need implants?

Yes. Absolutely.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Overall, it was a good experience. You have to have some patience and be somewhat flexible with time. I also have some dental fear (check out www.dentalfearcentral.org), but they were very good with me, and I have much less fear now. I enjoyed working with these enthusiastic smart young people, and you have the feeling you have helped them as well as them helping you. I was a test case for one of the dentists – she used me for an exam. Also an interesting experience.

If you have any questions about Jennifer’s experiences and what it’s like to be a patient at a University’s dental program, please leave a comment below.

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3 thoughts on “Dental Implants at a Dental School [Interview]

  1. I need tons of dental work done! Its like my teeth are getting worst as I get older… I feel like I’m spending tons and tons of money at the dentist with no results!!! I am already like four thousand in debt in dental bills and my teeth are no better now than in the beginning! I am 36 and I don’t want dentures. I am so stressed out! Just need some advice on what to do… Please help!!!!

  2. I need one dental implant. My front tooth was very loose. I went to a dentist and she told me my options. I could not afford the implant, plus I would have to go to someone else for the implant, then she would finish it up because it is my top front tooth. I wound up getting a flipper. It is so uncomfortable. I still can’t talk right- its been about a month, and it doesn’t really fit right. I am so upset with it. Also, it is a different color than my other teeth. Can you help me?????

  3. hi, im peggie. I read the story at the dental school. That was an impressive result. I am in need of some dental work, however I don’t have the money. My teeth are gone already. I have two dentures and some caps with crowns in the front of my mouth. I was told the teeth up top front need to come out with the cap and crowns on them. I was told that all my teeth are loose from taking out and putting the denture in. Im a complete mess. I don’t know what to do. I have no money for implants and if I cant keep any teeth, the denture has nothing to hold on too. I’m depressed already. Thanks for listening. Good luck to anyone having a situation close to mine.

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