Dental students need practice with real, human teeth, and if you're willing to offer yours, you can expect to cut your dental care quote in half, or maybe even more. There are two ways to give your teeth for training -- for students who need to practice tried and true techniques, or as part of a clinical trial.
First, dental schools offer all the care you would expect at a professional dentist's office, at reduced prices. And while students do the work, take heart knowing that they've practiced extensively before being allowed to poke around in your mouth and that instructors either supervise or check all procedures. In fact, most dental schools offer the most cutting-edge treatments with the best equipment and the most highly trained instructors you'll find anywhere. The American Dental Association maintains a list of accredited dental schools. If all you need is a cleaning, consider treatment at a dental hygiene school; you can find one via the American Dental Hygienists' Association Web site.
Clinical trials are the tests of new, promising techniques designed to prove their safety and/or effectiveness. Generally these trials are completely free and offer care by top-notch professionals. Some trials may even reimburse your travel expenses. That said, clinical trials usually seek specific conditions, and you may or may not be a match for dental clinical trials. Visit the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to look up current clinical trials; to see a list of all available dental clinical trials, visit Clinicaltrials.gov.
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