WATERTOWN — Local oral surgeon Dr. Logan Curtis, of Upstate Oral Surgery & Dental Implants, 22632 Summit Drive Suite B, is launching a new community initiative called Wisdom For Wisdom, which will provide a deserving student with free wisdom teeth extractions to help offset college expenses and support their higher education goals during this uncertain time.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced more than 36 million Americans to file for unemployment, and in March alone, the unemployment rate for young adults reached a surge of 30 percent. Nearly 11 million college students work, and those who have now lost their jobs during the pandemic are left with anxiety over their finances, especially their higher education fees.

Tuition has historically risen about three percent each year, according to the College Board, and student loan debt in New York has increased 36 percent. More than one million New Yorkers collectively carry $35 billion in student loan debt. On top of food, tuition, housing and other expenses, textbook prices are higher than ever.

“As students cope with the new norm of social distancing that has caused interruptions to their college careers and financial stability, we wanted to provide a program to help alleviate some of that burden from them,” Dr. Curtis said. “This program serves students who are low-income and who do not have the means to afford wisdom teeth extractions. Our goal is to ease the financial burden for students through the Wisdom For Wisdom program and help make a difference in the community.”

Wisdom teeth typically erupt between the ages of 17 and 25, and for some, wisdom teeth removal is not in the budget when also trying to juggle the cost of higher education. Wisdom teeth often do not have enough space to erupt in the mouth without causing oral health problems such as impaction, infection, crowding, and cysts. The Wisdom For Wisdom program reaches students with financial challenges and oral health needs and provides an opportunity to make textbook costs and other expenses more affordable.

The practice, which has been in operation for nearly a year, hopes that Wisdom for Wisdom will become an annual program occurring once or twice a year to offset the cost for schooling and make the semester a little easier for some students.

As for the process of the procedure, prospective patients can learn more from the practice’s website, but generally, the patient will be put to sleep, their teeth will be extracted and then EXPAREL — a long-lasting anesthetic injected where the teeth are removed that lasts for five days and provides non-opioid pain management — will be used.

“It’s a way we can do the surgery and control their pain even better than any sort of over-the-counter or narcotic pain medications,” Dr. Curtis said. “It’s a way of cutting down on narcotics used during the opioid epidemic.”

The summers tend to be busy at the practice because everyone is home and want to get it done before they go off to school, so the practice usually sees seven or eight cases a day. Generally speaking, wisdom teeth extraction usually costs around $3,000 to $3,500, according to Dr. Curtis.

The application period for the Wisdom For Wisdom program is open until June 18. To apply, students will watch a video about the wisdom teeth removal procedure, take a short quiz and submit a few sentences about how the program could help them.

Students residing in or around the Watertown community can apply by visiting https://upstateoralsurgery.com/wisdom. Upstate Oral Surgery & Dental Implants will announce the recipient and update the public on its Facebook page.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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