The 32 students in the University of Alaska Anchorage's Dental Program rely on real-world experience they receive through the university's dental clinic. However, for unknown reasons this year, there are fewer patients coming through the doors.
In order to graduate, the dental hygienist students are required to see and treat a variety of dental issues. To do that, they need patients.
"The more patients we get, the more opportunity we have to get those done and they're part of the accreditation standard," said student Liisia Putnam.
While the lack of patients will not affect whether the students will graduate, it puts extra stress on the seniors who are resorting to finding patients themselves.
"We're doing what we can by putting out fliers, we have a Craigslist ad and we're trying to go around to local businesses and spread the word," said Putnam.
Services through UAA's dental clinic are low-cost. A teeth cleaning with X-rays is $50. The students are thorough and patients are examined by an instructor after their appointment.
"There could be a fear that 'Oh, we're students, we don't know what we're doing' and we're still learning, but they'll (patients) leave here knowing what's going on," Putnam said.
To schedule appointments at the clinic, call 786-6960.