Fresno City College’s Dental Hygiene Clinic is designed for people like Merrily Runyan.

After Runyan retired in 2009, she didn’t have dental insurance, leaving her with costly dental bills.

Because she has periodontal disease  a serious gum infection that damages gums and can destroy the jawbone — she has to visit the dentist three times a year.

“They (students) are very good and do a very thorough job. I have just enjoyed it.” — Merrily Runyan, clinic patient

The cost for each cleaning is about $150, which her budget doesn’t allow. At FCC’s dental hygiene clinic, she only pays $15 for the same cleaning service.

The deal was too good to pass up. So much so that she brought her two daughters to the clinic when they were younger.

“They (students) are very good and do a very thorough job,” said Runyan, a resident of Clovis. “I have just enjoyed it.”

Serving 3,000 Patients Annually

Runyan is one of 3,000 patients that utilize the service annually, said clinic director Joanne Pacheco.

The clinic, a Fresno fixture for 45 years, provides people with affordable dental care and it gives students hands-on training.

Students are supervised by a registered dental hygiene professor and a licensed dentist.

“Students are guided step-by-step in the process because each patient is a learning case to help students develop the right techniques,” Pacheco said. “This can make the appointments between two to four hours in length.”

“I think it is really great because it helps us develop skills that we will need.”— Isabel Story, dental hygiene clinic student

Want To Schedule An Appointment? Here’s How.

There are two slots for scheduling appointments. Morning appointments are usually 8 a.m. to noon, Monday through Thursday. In the afternoon, it’s 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Patients can make an appointment in person or by calling (559) 244-2601.

In addition to teeth cleaning, the clinic also offers X-rays, oral cancer screenings, temporary fillings, and more.

 

From Classwork To Real Work

Applying what she read in textbooks to real life is Isabel Story’s favorite thing about the program.

I think it is really great because it helps us develop skills that we will need,” Story said, “It definitely puts you out of your comfort zone, which I think is necessary for you to get better.”

For Sabrina Torres, the clinical aspect is what inspires her.

“I like that part because I get to use what was taught to me. I get to be that clinician, mingle with people, and find out different ways to be better within this profession,” Torres said.

Graduating More Than 900 Students

Seeing students progress through the program puts a smile on Evy Schrager’s face.

“It is quite a transition from when they start and they don’t even know how to hold a mirror to actually completing the program.” — Evy Schrager, dental hygiene clinic professor

“It is quite a transition from when they start and they don’t even know how to hold a mirror to actually completing the program,” said Schrager, a professor in the clinic. “That is my favorite part.”

The program is fully accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), which allows eligibility to apply for the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and Clinical Licensure.

More than 900 graduates have completed the program since the first class in 1974.

Pacheco hopes that number increases every year.

“That is our goal,” she said.

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