Dental students learn to care for patients by practicing on real patients

Let’s face it, there are plenty of people out there who hate going to the dentist. But, students at The Dental College of Georgia want to show you just how wonderful the experience can be. After all, you’re giving students the best learning opportunity possible. And the cost of your care will be much lower than what you’ll pay at a private practice.

“The fees are really, really great,” said Alan Furness, DMD, Assistant Dean for Patient Services at The Dental College of Georgia. “We are talking a significant discount compared to what you might pay on the outside.”

According to Furness, dental students start seeing patients during their second year in school. By their third and fourth year, they are doing complex dental procedures.

“Crowns, bridges, root canals, and dentures — these are samples of the kinds of procedures they would be doing in a private practice,” he said.

The Dental College of Georgia has a ratio of faculty to student clinicians of 1:5 to 1:6. This ratio demonstrates the high degree of supervision in the clinics.

“I’ve been to conferences where other dental schools have a faculty to student ratio of 1 faculty to a group of 12-15 students,” Furness said. “We do one-to-five or one-to-six. It’s really remarkable.”

Furness said he recommends the student program to family and friends. There is a screening process that determines which patient a student will see. Students make sure they have a balance of patients with different needs, including crowns, bridges and routine cleanings.

Even with the unprecedented level of supervision, Furness would want you to know that there are other options for Augusta University employees looking to become a patient at The Dental College of Georgia.

“We have a faculty practice and advanced residency programs as well.” he said. “There is a 10 percent discount for Augusta University employees choosing to see a faculty dentist for their care.”

According to Furness, practicing faculty members typically treat patients about one day per week.

While The Dental College of Georgia is the state’s only dental school, Furness said people travel from Florida, South Carolina and other parts of the southeast to get their dental care from students, faculty and residents.

If you are interested in signing up for the student program, the faculty practice or a residency program, here are the numbers to call:

  • Student program: (706) 721-2371
  • Faculty practice: (706) 721-2696
  • Resident program: (706) 721-4025

Furness said there is also a lot of useful information for prospective patients on The Dental College of Georgia’s website.

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Written by
Chris Curry

Chris Curry is the Communications Coordinator for the Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University. Contact him to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at 706-799-8841 or

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Written by Chris Curry

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University and AU Health. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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