The opening of a dental office at the University of Calgary means students, faculty and staff have something to smile about.
Dental Choice, which officially opened Tue. Oct. 27, offers full dental services and is located on the third floor of MacEwan Student Centre.
Dr. Hans Herchen, owner and president of Dental Choice, which has locations in Calgary and Edmonton, said the first week of business has been strong and the centre hopes to extend hours soon.
Dental Choice is part of the Students' Union Wellness Centre, which also includes U of C Health Services, the Counseling Centre and the Chaplains' Centre.
Herchen said the office has been a long time coming, and Wellness Centre manager Debbie Bruckner agreed.
"[Having a dental office] was the intention for the past three or four years while the Wellness Centre was being planned," said Bruckner.
"It's taken probably three years of co-operation from the university, the Students' Union, our company and [SU health-insurance provider] Gallivan," said Herchen regarding the office's opening.
Herchen and Bruckner said the campus location is helpful for students who may not make dental health a priority.
"There are several barriers that students face to get their teeth cleaned," said Herchen, citing fear, cost, time and location as barriers.
"Until this office opened there were no options on campus."
"Dental health is not always a priority for students and this makes it convenient," said Bruckner.
Dental Choice is a dental provider listed with the SU Undergraduate Student Dental Plan, meaning students can receive dental services on campus at a reasonable cost.
Additionally, the university dental clinic is open to more than just students. Herchen said the university location serves a broad base of customers, including staff, graduate and undergraduate students and their children, and the general public.
As well, the office offers possible jobs for students interested in dentistry, marketing or management.
"We often take people interested in dentistry who don't know much about it and train them in the basics," said Herchen, noting there is room for people to move into management positions as well as join the marketing team.
Students looking to book appointments or for more information can stop by the office, call dental choice or visit dentalchoice.ca. Herchen said in the future students will also be able to book appointments via email, BlackBerry or iPhone.
The dental centre, a unique project among Canadian universities, is a Quality Money initiative.
The initiative is a partnership between the U of C and the SU and provides funding to projects at the university that enrich the overall student experience.
Every year the campus community is asked to submit proposals for campus projects and the SU then decides where to allocate the funds.
Past Quality Money projects include the Campus Bike initiative, co-curricular records and computer kiosks in the MacEwan Student Centre.