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UB, local dental society event provides free dental care to veterans

May 11, 2015

Honoring veterans: The University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine and the 8th District Dental Scoiety provided free dental care to nearly 90 local veterans during their first Dentistry Smiles on Veterans Program, held April 18 as part of the National Prosthodontics Awareness Week. Joined by military men in uniform, (from left) Dr. Marshal Fagin, prosthodontist and representative for National Prosthodontic Awareness Week; Byron Brown, City of Buffalo  mayor; Dr. Stephen Abel, UB associate dean for Student Affairs and Community and Professional Initiatives; Stephanie Mucha, a nurse at the VA for 44 years; Dr. Michael Glick, UB dental school dean; and Dr. Brenden Dowd, 8th District Dental Society trustee.
Buffalo, N.Y. — The University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, along with the 8th District Dental Society, served nearly 90 local veterans for the its first Dentistry Smiles on Veterans Program.
    
The program, held April 18 as part of the National Prosthodontics Awareness Week, provided a day of free dental screenings, cleanings and repairs for local veterans.
    
"We feel as a community that we need to give back to our veterans," said Dr. Michael Glick, UB dental school dean. "They have sacrificed a lot. Many veterans don't have dental benefits through the Veterans Administration system, and that's the gap that we're trying to fill here."
    
More than 50 Buffalo-area dentists, hygienists, along with dozens of UB dental students, faculty and staff, volunteered to provide free dental care to veterans who were honorably discharged after 1990.
    
"From the first year, we're in a class that we are taught the importance of outreach and how to develop outreach programs," said dental student Amber Rosenberg. "But it's incredible to actually be able to give care. We owe a lot to them."

When it comes to dental care, many veterans simply fall through the cracks. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, veterans have to meet certain eligibility factors to receive dental care, such as service-related dental disability or condition, or if they are a former prisoner of war.

"I think this is probably one of the most important communities that the dental school can reach out to," added Bob Van Wicklin, an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve was who deployed to Afghanistan in 2014 and is now UB dental school assistant dean for development and alumni relations. "For people who leave military service, dental care is the one thing that is difficult for them to obtain."

The dental school plans to make the Dentistry Smiles on Veterans program an annual event.