Typical patients at the Neighborhood Services Organization dental clinic in Oklahoma City initially visit because of oral health emergencies. However, they keep coming back after discovering that the clinic offers affordable dental care.

“When people do find us, they tend to stay on as regular patients,” said Laura Gutierrez, dental clinic manager. “It’s not that they didn’t know (oral health) was important, it’s that they couldn’t afford it before.”

The clinic, which accepts patients ages 8 and older, offers a full range of reduced-price dental services, such as preventive cleanings for $50 or extractions for $60. The clinic’s three dental chairs are always full and in demand, Gutierrez said. Last year, clinic staff performed more than 7,000 procedures and cared for more than 1,300 patients, the majority of whom had no dental insurance. Gutierrez said she hopes the Affordable Care Act will expand opportunities for affordable dental insurance, but she said she is not counting on it.

To continue reading this story from the April 2014 issue of The Nation’s Health, visit the newspaper online.

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