El Paso, Texas (KTSM) — A new dental facility is coming to El Paso next year, giving dental students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience.

The Hunt School of Dental Medicine is opening in South Central El Paso. When complete, the 38,000-square-foot clinic will be equipped with 130 treatment chairs and is expected to be the top dental-care destination, not only for the public, but for faculty, staff, students and their families.

The clinic’s mission is to improve the accessibility of oral health care in the community and will offer reduced-cost dental care to the public, as well as provide students with the clinical experience.

A one-of-a-kind suite will provide dental students the experience to learn proper techniques, treatments and sensitivities for the care of special needs patients.

Texas Tech’s efforts began as early as 2012 but it was not until 2016 that the Coordinating Board of Higher Education in Texas allowed TTUHS El Paso to proceed with a feasibility study to begin to achieve accreditation.

The construction of the Oral Health Care Clinic began early in 2020 and is scheduled to open in 2021.

Dr. Richard C. Black, D.D.S., M.S., dean of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, said the new facility will help El Pasoans get access to quality dental care. 

“The need is great because not only are there not enough dentists in the region, but especially there are not enough dentists who are well-trained to see and treat people with special needs.  This will be a beacon of hope for people of all ages to come and be treated,” Black said. “The care that will be given is going to cost at least half of what you would normally pay and some special needs patients have help from the state or federal government or other sources.”

Closer to the summer of 2021 there will be special telephone numbers and a website from Texas Tech that will allow anyone who wants to be seen to sign up and become a patient.  It is important to note that this is a student teaching clinic and patients will be selected based on whether they meet the educational needs of the school.  If a special needs patient requires more specialized care, they may have to be seen at the hospital or elsewhere.

“If you look at the thousands of students that have graduated over the last decade, from the thousands in Texas, quite literally, only a couple dozen over the last decade come out here to far West Texas,” said Texas Tech Chancellor Ted Miller. “This will help us do better than that.”

The Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic is the clinical arm of the new Hunt School of Dental Medicine, which will welcome its first class of students in 2021.

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