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DULUTH - The Lake Superior College Dental Hygiene program has been churning out future dentists for years, but not a lot of people know those future dentists have actually been working as dentists long before graduation.
"You know, I didn't know until I moved to Duluth that there was such a thing, that you could come to the college and get your teeth cleaned," said Ann Elnes, a LSC Clinic patient for more than 15 years.
LSC offers an on–site clinic that provides everything any private practice does, but without the high cost
"The most anybody pays is $20 and there are discounts for children and seniors," said Kathy Leonard, director of the LSC Dental Hygiene Program.
However, that smaller fee does mean more time in the chair.
"A patient can expect to spend two to three or four times longer here as a patient," said Leonard.
That's because the dental school's students are the ones doing the work.
"We see a lot of diverse patients so we get exposed to a lot of different things dealing with the mouth. Every mouth is different so it's a great learning experience," said Kelsey Janz Karlinski, a second year student in the LSC Dental Hygiene Program.
The student–run clinic sees more than 3,000 patients a year, all under the supervision of trained professionals, which is reassuring for patients, whether you're a returning patient or a first timer.
"I don't mind being the guinea pig for people to get better at their trade, and so far they have been proficient and gentle, which I appreciate," said Erik Larson, a first time patient.
While the dental clinic offers patients a great deal on dental care, students know it's as much about the experience each will gain because of them.
"I know a lot of schools where the students have to find their own patients throughout their whole program so we're really fortunate to have the availability of people from the community that will come in," said Karlinski."
The clinic is open to the public, but because of the low cost appointments fill–up fast.
However, the clinic says they are taking appointments for January and February, since it's a down time with student graduation.