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New Health Center To Offer Dental Services To Students, Employees

Aug. 21, 2014
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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Studies have revealed links between poor oral hygiene and major health issues, including heart disease, dementia and diabetes. Others have shown how dental issues can increase the risk of respiratory infections and even fertility issues for women, according to Prevention magazine.

Dean McDaniel, DDS
Dr. Dean McDaniel, who will serve as director for the SHSU Dental Center, shows off some of the new dental equipment in the office area, located on the first floor of the new Student Health and Counseling Center. —Photo by Brian Blalock

This is among the reasons why when Sarah Hanel, Student Health Center director, and Drew Miller, executive director for health and counseling services, began considering new services that the combined centers could begin offering in the new Sam Houston State University Health and Counseling Center, a dentist was at the top of their list.

Now, thanks to a partnership with On-site Dental Solutions, students will not be the only beneficiaries of the dental practice that will be coming to SHSU for the first time; the center also will provide discounted dental services to both faculty and staff.

“Because On-site Dental Solutions is a third-party vendor, it is not being supported at all by student services fees; because of that, we’re able to open up the resource to faculty and staff,” Miller said. “We would never do anything where students would be paying for faculty and staff to receive a service.

“The combined utilization also helps the dental team keep costs low for everyone needing services.”

The SHSU Dental Health Center will open with the rest of the new SHCC on Aug. 25. Faculty, staff and students can begin making appointments now.

The dental office will include two chairs and will offer services four days a week, while Miller and Hanel assess the demand for dentistry, during the Health and Counseling Center’s regular hours, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Services will include cleanings, x-rays, and uncomplicated procedures such as teeth extractions, fillings, crowns, and standard wisdom teeth extractions.

“The dental office will accept all insurance, including the university’s,” Hanel said. “They also do out-of-pockets at very affordable rates, discounted rates, and will offer interest-free payment plans.”

For example, a standard cleaning, x-ray and teeth whitening may run between $300-400 for someone without dental insurance; Bearkats utilizing the SHCC would pay around $100 for a standard cleaning and x-ray, with a complimentary teeth whitening, Hanel said.

The center will bring on board Dr. Dean McDaniel, from On-site Dental Solutions, who will utilize the new, state-of-the-art equipment that will include monitors that will allow patients to watch TV or a movie during their procedure. Patients can even use the monitor to watch their own procedure.

“Dr. McDaniel has 30 years of experience in dentistry, up through and including modern dental techniques and cosmetic dentistry,” Miller said. “He does Invisalign and teeth whitening, so we’re very fortunate to have him bring that wealth of experience to our students and staff.”

In addition, because McDaniel wants the dental office to be viewed as a “component of the university,” the dental clinic will work with other clinics within the center to “provide overall wellness for the students.”

“We hope to not only offer excellent, affordable dental care to the SHSU family, but to also help to educate our patients about the importance of this aspect of their health,” McDaniel said. “Medical research has widely shown that poor dental health often leads to disease and complications in other areas of the human body. For instance, there is a close relationship between periodontal (gum) disease and some cardiovascular conditions; and an abscessed tooth can often lead to serious and life-threatening conditions. SHSU students and personnel deserve better than that.”

This also is part of what Hanel calls a “deliberate” effort within the SHCC to create a “holistic wellness umbrella” that will include more educational opportunities and wellness resources for students, faculty and staff.

Student Health and Counseling Center
This week, health and counseling center staff have been moving in to the new center, located on the north side of campus by Old Main Market. The center officially opens for business on Aug. 25, with the medical facilities on the first floor and the counseling facilities on the second floor. —Photos by Brian Blalock

Another part of this holistic approach will be help for Bearkats who may be afraid of the dentist by offering noise-cancelling headphones and a stand-alone relaxation room that can be used as a meditation space.

“Since there’s so much anxiety about going to the dentist, I’ve been thinking about doing something in-house about managing dental anxiety,” Miller said.

The decision to dedicate a portion of the new SHCC for a dental clinic was born out of both necessity and the desire to increase services for students.

In the past, SHC physicians have made multiple referrals a week for dental services to students, who were not always able to procure those services locally.

“We would find that students would have dental issues and it would either, one, take them away from Huntsville for a week, because they would have to go back home to get dental services because nobody here would accept their insurance or they can’t get in; or two, they don’t have the resources or transportation to get their dental care, so they’re having to come back and get refills on prescriptions to manage the pain,” Hanel said. “They’re not getting their issues taken care of and then it’s manifesting into something else.”

The decision to open the services to the faculty and staff also made a lot of sense, once they decided to go with a third-party vendor, which couldn’t be financed with student services fees, Miller said.

“For me, it’s a lot about a work-life benefit. There are so few providers here in Huntsville, and if you don’t live in Huntsville, you may have to take a full day or half a day off from work to go home to see your dentist; whereas, if there’s a provider on campus, it essentially functions as a drop-in,” he said. “It’s easier to work into your schedule.

“There have been many surveys that show that in all the various forms of healthcare, dentistry typically gets put at the bottom of the list. If there’s something else I have to do, I’ll do the other thing instead of going to the dentist,” Miller continued. “By having it so convenient, it will hopefully encourage people to take care of their dental health, which has implications for the rest of their physical health.”

SHSU will be only the second university in the state, and one of only a few in the nation, to offer the dental services to students, faculty and staff.

“Incorporating dental services into the SHSU Student Health and Counseling Center is a rare and very forward-thinking idea,” McDaniel said. “The administration should be praised for launching this new collaborative effort on behalf of the SHSU family of faculty, staff and students. In my opinion, the idea is long overdue on America’s college campuses.”

The idea stemmed from a conversation with Floyd Robinson, assistant vice president for Student Affairs—Health and Wellness at the University of Houston, who shared with Hanel the extreme popularity of their clinic, also run in conjunction with On-Site Dental Solutions.

Now, because of the integrated nature of SHSU’s new Student Health and Counseling Center facility, SHSU’s program has become a model for other universities, both in Texas and around the country.

Though originally SHSU’s model, UH has even returned to Hanel and Miller to discuss the logistical development of their own centers, modeled off of SHSU’s center.

“Based on UH’s experiences, they basically had a full schedule within the first two weeks; that’s what we’re hoping for,” Miller said.

For more information, visit the Student Health Center website, or to set up an appointment, call 936.207.8472.



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