The WVU School of Dentistry said West Virginia leads the nation in childhood tooth decay, denture wearers, and teenagers who use tobacco.
These all have significant oral health impacts. The school hopes to lower those statistics with its new facility.
"We provide a pretty crucial service to the community and the majority of Morgantown didn't even know we existed until we moved out here," said Jason Lawrence, a first year WVU Graduate Resident at the School of Dentistry. "So, that's a benefit, just the visibility. The open concept of our clinic has helped tremendously in communication between peers."
WVU School of Dentistry Faculty and Graduate Clinic opened a new facility in Suncrest Towne Centre. The building provides new technology and equipment, but will also allow more students to get hands-on experience at the old and new locations.
"Before we moved to this facility we had students competing for every chair every half day of clinic. So said another way, every half day one in half students were either assisting, doing lab work, or doing something other than treating a patient," said David Felton, the Dean of the WVU School of Dentistry. "By moving over here, that lowers that two in half students to one chair ratio, down to one. Still not acceptable, but it's better than what we had."
The facility costs around $3 million.
The clinics house 30 graduate residents and 24 full-time faculty, which includes 15 specialty providers. This makes it the largest group practice of dental specialist in West Virginia.
The next step is to add a pediatric unit.
"I worked at camps all through undergrad, so I knew I enjoyed working with kids also," Lawrence said. "Working at camps I got first hand experience at seeing how lower income and lower populations, how they live. Having to remind them to brush their teeth twice a day. Sometimes they didn't even have that concept. Sometimes they even shared a toothbrush amongst their families."
The WVU School of Dentistry is still mainly located at the 50-year-old Health Sciences building on the WVU Campus. They hope to have a completely new facility built by 2018.