West LA College offering free dental work for volunteers

Experts say good dental hygiene benefits your overall health. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford it. 

However, that’s where West Los Angeles College comes in with their free clinic, where Christina Renteria is getting some work done. 

“I’m trying to get a deep cleaning,” she said. 

West LA is one of the four California community colleges that offers a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. It’s a four-year commitment. A number of programs allow students to get some or all of their tuition waived. 

Students Lesly Guzman and Elizabeth Ochoa take pride in providing free services to the community, even if you’re not a student. 

“I do know dental access is kind of hard to get especially at this time because it’s really expensive,” Ochoa said. 

The school’s clinic provides teeth cleaning, x-rays and other simple procedures — all supervised by the professors.

“A lot of my family hasn’t been able to go receive dental services because they don’t have dental insurance,” Guzman said. “So, a lot of the time, dentistry was seen as a privilege.”

Even though this program is free, there is a need for volunteer patients. The best candidates are folks who are middle age with a few dental issues. 

Patients don’t get a bill here but they do get preventative care. 

“Oral conditions, infections relate to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory disease,” Professor Lisa Kamibayashi, the program director, said. 

Christina has limited insurance coverage so coming here helps her and the students.

“I try to come to these places as well as my regular ones so that it kinda even out for the pocket,” she said. 

Whether it’s good health or overcoming academic challenges, it’s important to address the root cause.

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