Saskatoon’s first student-run dental clinic is helping bridge the gap between those who need dental care, but face financial barriers.

Direct Dental, which opened on Saturday afternoon, offers emergency dental care for free. It is run by students from the U of S College of Dentistry and licensed dentists who volunteer.

For Darren Vinek, this is good news.

“Just to get (your teeth) cleaned, you know, $200 to $300 to see what you got. Then the work begins, right, so it goes way up from there,” he said.

“It could be a couple thousand bucks.”

Vinek used to get his teeth cleaned once a year, but he said after losing his work benefits four years ago, his teeth have been neglected.

Fourth-year student Christy MacPherson is one of four students who founded Direct Dental.

“All of our work is supervised by licensed dental professionals, so there are dentists that are basically doing one-on-one supervision of the student working,” she said, adding that students will be doing all of the hands-on work.

Vinek said he was considering leaving the country to get his teeth looked at, but now this could be just what he needs to keep his teeth healthy.

“My mother has no teeth and I still have all of my teeth, and I see what she goes through,” he said.

“I don’t want (that), I want my own teeth.”

The clinic will be open twice a month until March, but MacPherson hopes Direct Dental will continue to operate for years to come.