Photo courtesy TTUHSC
High Desert Oral and Facial Surgery announced a $70,000 gift to the Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic at the Hunt School of Dental Medicine.
Officials made the announcement Tuesday during a groundbreaking ceremony for the future home of the clinic on the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso campus.
In honor of the generous gift, TTUHSC El Paso will name two teaching surgical suites in the public clinic the “High Desert Teaching Surgical Suites.” These suites are critical for students to be trained and mentored under close supervision of faculty and community dentists so that they refine the skills they need to become experts in their field.
“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 High Desert Oral and Facial Surgery’s Vernon Burke, D.M.D., M.D. “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.”
Richard Black, D.D.S., M.S., dean of the 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,” Dr. Black said. “The No. 1 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.”
The mission of the dental clinic, which is scheduled to open in 2021, is to improve the accessibility of oral health care in the community and offer reduced-cost dental care to the public.
The new 38,000 square-foot clinic will be equipped with 130 treatment chairs and is expected to be the top dental-care destination, not only for the public, but 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. In 2017, only 50 percent of El Paso residents visited a dentist. In El Paso County, 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 building on the TTUHSC El Paso campus. Students will train in the school’s Dental Learning Center, which features 80 stations equipped with high-tech simulation manikins and a fabrication laboratory for crafting dental appliances using 3D scanners and advanced CAD/CAM equipment.
High Desert Oral and Facial Surgery offers patients a full scope of oral and maxillofacial surgery with expertise ranging from corrective jaw surgery to detail implants and wisdom tooth removal at two locations in El Paso and one in Las Cruces.