Free wisdom teeth removal eases sting of college costs for some Kitsap students

·2 min read
Dr. Sukhdeep Dhaliwal, oral surgeon, consults with a patient at Kitsap OMS, where beginning this summer several college students will receive free wisdom teeth extractions each year to pay tuition costs.
Dr. Sukhdeep Dhaliwal, oral surgeon, consults with a patient at Kitsap OMS, where beginning this summer several college students will receive free wisdom teeth extractions each year to pay tuition costs.

For Megan Turner, 19, any way to chisel down the $27,000 per year cost of attendance at Florida College in Temple Terrence, Florida, is worthwhile. So when Turner's sister told her about the new Wisdom for Wisdom program, a Kitsap OMS program providing selected applicants with free wisdom teeth removal to free up money for their tuition, she knew she wanted to apply.

"My parents would be helping me with this, but since they don't have to, because of the scholarship, that burden has been taken off," Turner said. "We had the opportunity. And I took it."

The cost to remove wisdom teeth varies, but the surgery tends to cost around $2,500, with the fees a patient would pay out of pocket depending on insurance, according to Dr. Sukhdeep Dhaliwal, oral surgeon at Kitsap OMS.

Kitsap OMS has a history of doing other philanthropic dental care, including a case involving more than $50,000 in donated care, he said.

"We wanted to do something for the local community," Dhaliwal said. "The idea here is that we'll provide free wisdom tooth removal to eligible college students to help offset the cost of college, because for a lot of these kids, the cost of wisdom teeth removal was not in the budget."

Read more: SK Woman, 73, finds it's never too late for braces

Turner was one of three Kitsap teenagers Dhaliwal and other Kitsap OMS staff selected for the program. Ten people, all college-age and in need of the surgery, applied and recipients were selected via a holistic review process that included both financial need, a quiz and other application materials.

Kitsap OMS originally intended to select two individuals for the program, but Dhaliwal said he and other staff were struck by the power of the applicants' stories from their applications.

For Turner, the tuition at Florida College total $17,050 for the year, and fees, room and board brings the cost of attendance for her up to about $27,000.

Last year was her first year at Florida College, and with scholarships she'd received from North Kitsap High School and earnings from her full-time job, she'd been able to afford the cost without loans. But this year, she'll need small loans to afford the cost of attendance. With the extra money freed by Wisdom for Wisdom, that cost will be brought down.

"I'm really grateful for them starting this program. It was a huge blessing to our family."

This article originally appeared on Kitsap Sun: Free wisdom teeth removal eases college costs for some Kitsap students