The West Virginia University School of Dentistry student clinic provided free oral healthcare screenings and exams to veterans and active National Guard and reserve members on Friday.

At least 45 patients were treated, said Sunshine Wiles-Gidley, director of communications and marketing at the WVU School of Dentistry.

Dental and dental hygiene students, working under the direct supervision of faculty dentists and hygienists, provided dental screenings, x-rays as necessary, cleaning, simple fillings and other urgent care needs to veterans, according to the WVU School of Dentistry.

“In this day and age, a very small number of people go into the military,” said Anthony Borgia, dean of the WVU School of Dentistry and a veteran. “This gives students the opportunity to work with veterans, and to really understand what their needs are, where they’ve come from and what their experiences have been.”

Borgia said the event went well and that the veterans he talked to were very pleased with the services provided to them.

“Not only is the location convenient, but to be able to get the support from the school you’re attending, it just doubles it up and makes it better and better,” said Amanda Neff, a first class petty officer in the U.S. Navy Reserves. “I think it’s a great training opportunity for the students, and it helps them to be involved with veterans, and to learn how to interact with veterans in the community for whenever they do become actual providers.”

“I think it’s pretty awesome that they are giving us this opportunity,” said a five-year U.S. Navy veteran. “I will definitely come back if they do this again.”

Nick Pantori, a student at the WVU School of Dentistry, a member of the U.S. Air Force and 4-year Army veteran, said he enjoys providing a service that is not always accessible to everyone.

“For me, it’s more about giving back to the community and helping out those in need,” Pantori said. “I like that we’re making it accessible for people who don’t really have that accessibility.”

Now that the event has taken place for the first time, the WVU School of Dentistry is beginning to focus on getting more donations to fund follow-up appointments and to treat more patients.

“A $250 donation is what we would be looking for to get someone through the door, so they can get treatment started or to see what their problems are,” Wiles-Gidley said.

Borgia also said the WVU School of Dentistry would like to expand the clinic next year to welcome in more veterans.

“We would like to see more and more veterans, if possible,” Borgia said. “For our school to give back and to also let people know that we’re here making a difference, I think it’s fantastic.”