A woman who had a huge smile and long black hair sat comfortably in the tiny waiting room of a dental clinic. A dentist was checking the teeth of the occupant of the only dental chair in the clinic, which was a middle aged woman. Thanks to the low cost services of the clinic, she is able to get dental care which she otherwise couldn't afford.

A private non profit organization started a dental clinic 43 years ago as a project, and it continues to operate to this day. A health clinic that provided health care for pregnant women and babies was operated by the clinic in the organization's building for several years. Children can enjoy dental care at the clinic. Through private donations, the operation of the clinic funded, most especially through the foundation that one woman left us in her will. When we had no more foundation to speak of, we looked again at our services and realized that a lot of our services were already being offered by other agencies. Since there was no more funding, we closed the clinic.

They found out after some research that dental needs were not being met, and came to the decision to rent the main building and remodel the garage. To convert the former garage into a small dental office, the organization raised $10,000 in donations. A lot of the equipment for the office was already there, having been given by dentists for the old dental clinic.

Low cost care is given to those who pass an interview. The clinic does allow patients who are capable of getting private dental care so that competition with area dentists is avoided. With the help of a sliding scale, the clinic can decide who can use the clinic's services and how much the clinic should charge them. The clinic decides how much to charge when it knows how many family members are in a person's family and also how much the person makes.

For instance, if a family of four makes $1,000 or more as its monthly income, that family cannot avail of services provided by the clinic. Dental examination is made available to that same family if their monthly earnings are from $800 to $1,000. Family incomes amounting to less than $800 a month would qualify families for an examination fee of only $5. You would pay an average of $15 to $20 for a dental examination received from private Santa Fe dentists.

You can really tell that some patients, especially those in their 40's and 50's, didn't receive much dental care before. Many of the clinic's patients are children. Early in the winter, clinic dentists treated many children who qualified for federally funded county special programs. One program covers the cost of all or most clinic fees.

Presently the clinic schedules about 20 patients a week, but its dentists could handle many more. When too many patients failed to meet their dentists at the scheduled time, the secretary changed the system of making appointments so that the days were known by the patients but not the specific times. Those who show up on the appointed day are given dental treatment on a first come, first served basis. We instruct every person who comes in how to take good care of their teeth. Patients who don't use toothbrushes and dental floss are supplied with these things by the clinic. On the next appointment, they usually have stronger and brighter teeth.

About Author / Additional Info: