MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — The WVU School of Dentistry has provided insight into how the students that it produces are helping the people of West Virginia get the care they need.

Opportunities for hands-on experiences at the West Virginia University School of Dentistry have contributed to an increase in practitioners choosing to stay in the Mountain State after they graduate.

The increase of graduates staying in West Virginia to practice is much needed as the state is experiencing a shortage of dentists. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Oral Health Program reported that there are 49 dentists per 100,000 people in West Virginia compared to the United States average of 61.

Oh my gosh, this is everything. It’s truly the cornerstone of healthcare in the state of West Virginia. We have to have our national rate as, is pretty low as far as retaining healthcare providers in the state and especially dental care providers, and so we have to improve. The people of West Virginia need that care, they need that dental care. They deserve that dental care and we’re so excited that some of our best and brightest are going to stay in this state.

Valerie Perrine, Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Community Health and Outreach

The school’s primary mission can be broken into three parts:

  • To improve oral health by transforming students into clinically excellent, service-oriented practitioners
  • To provide exceptional patient care
  • To discover solutions that reduce oral health disparities in the state.

The state and federal governments are also offering monetary incentive programs for graduates who choose to practice in West Virginia.