VCU Opens Urgent Care Clinic for Dental Patients

Dentistry Today


Some cases can’t wait for an appointment, and dental students need to learn how to manage these emergencies. Fortunately, VCU Dental Care at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has opened a new urgent care clinic that will give patients and practitioners alike what they respectively need. 

“This clinic will provide a great learning opportunity for our students, residents, and faculty,” said David Sarrett, DMD, dean of the VCU School of Dentistry. “It will promote the practice, bring new patients into the dental care program, and help us move forward in our educational and clinical missions.”  

The urgent care clinic opened on May 22 at the School of Dentistry’s W. Baxter Perkinson Jr Building. It will simulate the environment of a private practice dental office, offering a full range of services to patients. It also will allow dental students to apply what they are learning in the classroom to a practical setting.

“The idea for the clinic came from a need of VCU Dental Care patients who want to retain their teeth and are having a dental emergency,” said Clara Spatafore, DDS, chair of the school’s department of endodontics and urgent care clinic director.

Before the clinic’s opening, VCU Dental Care patients had to go through an intake process that sometimes took weeks, and the school believes the urgent care clinic will close this service gap. Also, the clinic will provide a venue for students to fulfill Commission on Dental Accreditation requirements for emergent care.

Treatment at the clinic will include exams, diagnoses, and referrals. Patients who simply want teeth extracted will be referred to VCU Dental Care’s oral and facial surgery emergency clinic. Third-year and fourth-year dental students will practice at the clinic, which will be open from 8 am to 4 pm weekdays, with walk-in availability.

“The urgent care clinic will function as an access point for patients to call, get an appointment quickly, get their problem resolved, and maybe continue going to VCU Dental Care for their dental needs,” said Sarrett. “Our job while they’re here is to convince them that they would be better off, long term, to have a regular dental visit.”

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