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Bringing smiles to Southern Tier veterans

University at Buffalo
University at Buffalo state-of-the-art mobile dental unit

Some Southern Tier veterans are getting dental care starting Tuesday from University at Buffalo Dental School students and staff.

This care for 100 veterans over five days, called Dentistry Smiles on Veterans, will be offered at the VFW post in Mayville and just about all slots have been filled. UB's Dental School has a 42-foot, three-chair mobile dental clinic with x-ray equipment and other facilities that will be providing services.

"We started three years ago, our dental student rotation through our mobile dental van," said Rural Dentistry Program Coordinator Paula Fisher. "So they see children all through the school year wherever the dental van is. Then we also started this year a rotation to community health centers."

The van moves across much of Western New York, with a staff and a rotating group of two dental students, through the Rural Dentistry Program. Fischer said there are special problems for veterans.

"Insurance for dental, once you retire, usually goes away," she said. "So most of these veterans who are out in the workforce and retire no longer have coverage. And then we see a lot of young veterans, too, from Desert Storm, and they are out there trying to start over and they just don't have the means to get regular dental care."

Fischer said most veterans are not eligible for dental care through the Veterans Administration. Beside those who need work in the dental chair, she said there will be equipment moved right into the post to allow services like dental cleaning.

The five days of care are being paid for by Delta Dental Foundation and a grant through the office of State Senator Cathy Young.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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