FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno City College's clinical skills lab looks like an ordinary dentist's office - but it is part of a program that's one-of-a-kind in the Valley.
The institution's Dental Hygiene Program is the only such program in the Central Valley offering low-cost dental hygiene therapy treatments to the public.
The program's 30 students perform the treatments on thousands of patients each year with a dentist on site.
"We treat patients from five years old to a hundred and five years old. We offer services such as dental cleanings, deep scale cleaning and fluoride treatments," said Joanne Pacheco, Director of the Department of Dental Hygiene.
Pacheco said in order to obtain an Associate of Science (AS) degree, students must put in 1,600 hours of work during the two-year program on real people with real dental problems.
Once students graduate, they can apply for a clinical board license to practice in the dental industry.
The Fresno City College program has been around since 1974.
"I would say the majority of our students, about 2/3, stay in the Central Valley to practice dental hygiene throughout their career and then there are those who practice in other states," said Pacheco.
Many students went on to earn a bachelor's degree before going into practice full-time.
One of the adjunct professors in the Fresno City College program graduated back in 2014.
Jenna Allen says nothing can beat the hands-on experience students get on site.
"You basically start treating patients in your second semester. So by the time you graduate you've been working and doing this job for a year and a half and preparing even before that," said Allen.
Public services from the dental hygiene program cost anywhere from $5 to $15. Current students are glad the public is taking advantage of this opportunity that is affordable.
"Their oral health is not as great and I help them get on the right path to teach them about oral hygiene. And they get better, so that is the most rewarding aspect. So helping people is the best part of this particular career," said Svetlana Mirronyuk, Fresno City College Student
The clinic is open three days a week and opens to the public by appointment only.
On a budget but need your teeth fixed? Fresno City College can help