By Ed Morrison
Release Date: December 5, 2023
BUFFALO, N.Y. – The eighth annual Dentistry Smiles on Veterans Day event held on the University at Buffalo South Campus Nov. 11 set a new standard for community engagement, health care and teamwork, organizers say.
The event, hosted by the UB School of Dental Medicine (SDM), included more than 300 volunteers from across UB as well as external partners.
They provided services for 162 veterans – many of whom lack dental insurance or do not qualify for dental treatment through the Veterans Health Administration, a benefit reserved only for those with service-related dental injuries.
The comprehensive care included 96 periapical X-rays, 285 bitewings and 52 panoramic radiographs. Dental procedures included 71 cleanings, 52 restorations, and one sealant application. The oral surgery unit completed 117 uncomplicated extractions and 19 surgical extractions. Additionally, nine dentures or removable partial dentures were repaired, and one bridge was recemented.
These services are valued at roughly $93,500, organizers say.
The event’s success was underlined by the fact that 17 patients made follow-up appointments. Additionally, many took home forms to potentially become new patients at SDM’s clinics.
“The hope is to establish a new dental home for 40% of these individuals, continuing the positive trend from previous events,” said Brendan Dowd, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Restorative Dentistry and event organizer. “Organizers emphasized the veterans’ heartfelt appreciation for the free dental work and the acknowledgment of their service to the country.”
Of the 300-plus volunteers, roughly 240 were students. The event provided them an important experiential learning opportunity and firsthand understanding of the importance of giving back to the community.
The event extended beyond dentistry, incorporating interprofessional education initiatives. For example:
The School of Nursing administered more than 30 flu vaccinations and performed more than 50 pre-clinical health history and blood pressure evaluations.
Faculty and students from the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences evaluated and updated patients’ electronic medication history. They also performed several pharmacological consultations with patients.
The Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, part of the School of Public Health and Health Professions, had students and faculty on hand to engage patients with training and education on how to lead a healthier lifestyle, such as smoking cessation and proper nutrition.
“Dentistry Smiles on Veterans Day is an excellent example of how collaboration among various units in the academic health center can create a holistic health care experience for the community,” said Marcelo Araujo, DDS, MS, PhD, dean of the School of Dental Medicine. “The event’s success not only contributes to the profession of dentistry but also highlights the broader impact of interprofessional collaboration on patient health outcomes and whole-body wellness.”
He added that the organizers would like to thank the Eighth District Dental Society, the New York State Dental Association, Fidelis Care and Wellcare.
“This event wouldn’t be possible without their generous support,” he said.