$70,000 Gift to Fund Surgical Suites at Texas Tech

Dentistry Today


The Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic has received a $70,000 gift from High Desert Oral and Facial Surgery. In honor of the gift, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) El Paso campus will name two teaching surgical suites at the public clinic the High Desert Teaching Surgical Suites.

These suits are critical for students to be trained and mentored under the close supervision of faculty and community dentists so they can refine the skills they need to become experts in their field, the school said.

“My partners and I are all imports to El Paso. Our hope with this clinic is that instead of importing talent, we can start to export it with dental graduates throughout our community,” said Vernon Burke, DMD, MD, of High Desert Oral and Facial Surgery.

“We are excited that with our gift, dental students will see and feel the support of the El Paso dental community. It is also important the dental community feels connected to the dental school so students can rotate into local offices and one day open their own practice in El Paso,” Burke said.

Richard Black, DDS, MS, dean of the Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine, said the dental clinic and surgical suites will be vital to both the school and border community.

“Our Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic is where students will gain the valuable experience they need to see patients once they graduate,” Black said. “The number one reason for this clinic is education, but it will also be a wonderful thing for the campus, the El Paso community, and the border region. Patients will receive top-quality dental care they need and deserve.”

Scheduled to open in 2021, the clinic will improve the accessibility of oral healthcare in the community and offer reduced-cost dental care to the public, the school said. The 38,000-square-foot space will be equipped with 130 treatment chairs and is expected to be the top dental care destination for the public as well as for faculty, staff, students, and their families.

The Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic is part of TTUHSC El Paso and will be the clinical arm of the new Hunt School of Dental Medicine, which will welcome its first class of students in 2021. The dental school will address a major need in West Texas where many residents suffer from poor oral health due to a lack of access to affordable care, TTUHSC El Paso said.

In 2017, the school said, only 50% of El Paso residents visited a dentist. In El Paso County, it added, there is one dentist for every 5,482 residents, compared to the national average of one dentist for every 2,075.

The Hunt School of Dental Medicine will be housed in the Medical Sciences Building II, a new facility on the TTUHSC El Paso campus. Students will train in its Dental Learning Center, which features 80 stations equipped with high-tech simulation manikins and a fabrication laboratory for crafting dental appliances using 3-D scanners and advanced CAD/CAM equipment, the school said.

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