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Dental exams available for WV veterans

WVU dental school and veterans center offer free assessments

Two West Virginia University groups hope an upcoming free oral healthcare clinic for veterans reaches twice the number of patients as the inaugural event in 2019.

As Veteran’s Day approaches, the Center for Veteran, Military and Family Programs and School of Dentistry will welcome qualified patients to the dental school Friday, November 13, 2020 for Veteran’s Oral Health Day.

“Last fall, we discovered there was a greater need for assistance with oral healthcare among our veteran and military students at WVU as well as the general veteran community throughout north central West Virginia,” said Jerry Wood, director of the West Virginia University veteran’s center. “In no time, we had 40 appointments scheduled for preliminary exams.”

A limited number of exams will be offered; and appointments must be scheduled in advance. To inquire about openings, call 304-293-6208.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, dental care coverage for veterans can depend on a number of factors including military service history, the veteran’s current health and living situation.

Additionally, there are a number of classes of coverage for eligible veterans with some limiting the care that is paid for through insurance.

A lack of insurance or the funds to pay out-of-pocket leaves many veterans unable to receive dental care and treatment.

Dental and dental hygiene students, working under the direct supervision of our faculty dentists, will begin treating veterans at 9 a.m. at the School of Dentistry. For directions, refer to the google map on our WVU Dental locations page.

Veterans can receive a comprehensive examination, x-rays, a cleaning and treatment of any active disease in the mouth, to include fillings and extractions. Any additional dental care that cannot be provided to the veteran on the 13th will be scheduled for follow-up care at the school.

“When these patients come in, we could be checking for not only the need for immediate treatment or urgent care, but we are also setting up care to prevent future oral healthcare problems. To be able to do that for as many as 80 veterans is a source of pride for us in contributing to our community,” said Fotinos Panagakos, DMD, interim dean of the dental school.

The cost of care for one veteran is estimated to be $250.00.

The outreach program launched last year was popular among dental school alumni. Funds for the treatment of the participating veterans have come from generous graduates and community donors.

If you are interested in contributing to our veterans oral healthcare fund, you can do so by clicking our Give site. Donors should enter Fund 2U201 when specifying the designation of gift. Or reach out to Karen Coombs, director of development for the dental school, by emailing kcoombs@wvuf.org or calling 304-216-3784.

Your support will go a long way in allowing the dental school to care for those most vulnerable in our community. Additional funds will be needed to cover any follow-up care a veteran may need after November 13, so any donation is welcome towards continued care.

It has been established that poor oral health can contribute to poor overall health, including diabetes and heart disease. Improving the oral health of a person positively influences overall health and can boost a person’s self-esteem and well-being.