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dental student at the dental clinic

Student looking at dental x rays

The IU Northwest Dental Education Clinic is open to the public. It is a preventive dental clinic offering services to the population of Northwest Indiana at a reduced cost. Our services include dental prophylaxis (cleaning), fluoride treatments, non-surgical periodontal therapy (deep cleaning), periodontal assessments, oral cancer screenings, dental radiographs (x-rays), dental sealants and oral hygiene education.

Dental Prophylaxis (cleanings)

A dental prophylaxis is commonly known as a teeth cleaning. The dental hygienist is typically the person that cleans the teeth in the dental office. Here at IU Northwest, our dental hygiene students are supervised while providing treatment by qualified faculty. Cleaning the teeth is vital to the health of the mouth. Calculus (tartar) builds up on the teeth causing more destructive biofilm (plaque) to accumulate. This biofilm houses bacteria that are destructive to the teeth and the gums. It can build up above and below the gumline. When the biofilm is allowed to build up below the gumline (due to not having professional cleanings every six months or sooner), it destroys the gum tissue attachment to the tooth, causing inflammation and swelling. This condition is called gingivitis. If it is left untreated it can worsen and become periodontitis. Periodontitis requires a deep cleaning sometimes called scaling and root planing (SRP) or non-surgical periodontal therapy.

Oral Screening

Our Dental Education students check each and every patient for potentially serious oral conditions. Each patient is also checked by a Dental Education faculty member. Early detection is key to prevention.

Dental X-rays

Dental x-rays (radiographs) are vital to diagnosing oral conditions. The most common dental x-rays taken are bite-wings. These are used to detect cavities between the teeth that the eye cannot see. Bite-wings are also used to show bone level and potential pathology/diseases. Complete mouth x-rays are also utilized in dentistry. These x-rays show the entire tooth from the root to the crown. Panoramic x-rays are another common survey taken. These are utilized to view large areas of the teeth and jaws. Many structures are visible on panoramic x-rays. Dental professionals are trained to expose and interpret dental x-rays.


Dental sealants are a protective plastic coating most often placed on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to protect them from cavities. Not all teeth can have sealants. The placement of sealants must be evaluated by a dentist.