U of C students will have on-campus dental care by 2009.
Paul Baker/the Gauntlet

Dental delights for Calgary students

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University of Calgary students will have another thing to smile about next year.

With the addition of dental services to the Students' Union Wellness Centre, undergraduate students will be able to get free preventative dental hygiene and oral care right on campus by spring 2009.

"It's part of the broader mission of creating a place where all kinds of wellness services are integrated," said SU wellness coordinator Debbie Bruckner. "A student has one place to go, whether its spiritual need, counseling, oral health. [All] part of the goal of offering a more comprehensive service to students in one easy location."

While Mount Royal College introduced an on-campus clinic where students can get free preventative dental care and hygiene in early October, the U of C's undergrad dental plan works via an arrangement between six dental clinics in Calgary and the Students Benefits Plan Office. Students are only covered if they visit any one of these six clinics.

Although seemingly limited, student service co-ordinator Dijla Al-Rekabi claimed otherwise.

"Some of the students are concerned ... when they look at the list and see only six dentist's offices," she said. "We're talking about the University of Calgary-- with so many other students, they're wondering, 'How are we gonna get in and what is the waiting period?' "

Al-Rekabi explained they have been able to treat students within a day or two of making an appointment.

The pre-arrangement also offers the advantage of minimal paperwork and a far less complicated claims process. Where other dental plans require the client pay up front and later make an insurance claim, the undergrad health and dental plan simplifies this by direct billing.

"Students pay whatever the plan does not cover," added Al-Rekabi. "When they leave the [student benefits plan office,] it will be our dental claim department and these [clinics] that are going to be dealing with the claim form. We do all the paperwork and exclude the student from that inconvenient process."

For first-year communications studies student Lauren Babuik, the simplified process means she may not get her health and dental coverage waived next year.

"I was gonna have it waived, but then I just never really got around to it," said Babuik. "Probably for next year I'll look more into it."