For many Americans, tooth decay is a painful part of everyday life. Sugary diets combine with poor dental hygiene to create an environment where the bacteria that causes tooth decay thrives.
Unfortunately, many people are unable to get to the dentist to get the treatment they need to reverse the effects of tooth decay.
Many patients who are financially unable to visit a dentist regularly go to the UCLA School of Dentistry seeking treatment. These patients have recently been displaced by a large fire in one of the department’s storage rooms. The fire began around 1:30 a.m. April 14, raging for almost an hour as over 100 firefighters tried to contain it.
UCLA’s dental students are concerned about graduation, as they are barred from the building while the debris is removed and the damage fixed. The building is reported to have excessive smoke and water damage, even though the fire was contained to the third floor.
Patients who rely on UCLA’s School of Dentistry for treatment are waiting to hear about their fate, as well. They may be seeking fillings, cleanings, oral surgery, or even implants. Currently, only 10 percent of United States dentists place implants, but that number is on the rise as more dentists graduate and enter the field.
“I was waiting for five months,” Haylee Valenzuela told NBC Los Angeles, regarding her upcoming dental appointment. “It’s the only place they can do this for me.”
Dental resident Karen Mei expressed similar sentiments to ABC.
“I feel more bad for the patients that actually came and drove all the way. The parking is difficult, you know, they came all the way here to get dental work done, maybe took a day off and now they’re not able to,” Mei stated.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Students are encouraged to contact their professors regarding future classes.