New partnership will lead to upgraded WVU dental school treatment center

Photo courtesy of WVU.
Photo courtesy of WVU.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In the spring, WVU School of Dentistry is expected to open a unique clinic that will give students access to new technology and give patients access to enhanced care.

The Center for Research & Education in Technology Inc. and the university have entered an agreement that requires the school to construct an innovation center in exchange for equipment and merchandise from a base of more than 20.

“We’ll get a number of manufacturers who will agree to donate equipment, or consign is a better word.  That way there will be centers of excellence.  One is California.  One is in Missouri.  We are now like the eastern anchor of that triangle if you will,” explained Dr. Anthony Borgia, dean of the WVU School of Dentistry.

Senior dental students will work under the direction of faculty at the Innovation Center.

“So, it’s run exactly like a private practice.  When the patients walk through the door, they’re going to think they are in dental heaven because they will have the best dental chairs and the best imagine equipment,” Borgia detailed.

Some of the equipment Borgia hopes to include in the innovation center would require more than a $500,000 investment by the university.

Borgia said limited funding and dwindling higher education budgets call for resourceful partnerships.

“I mean you will not be able to go to the University of Pittsburgh and get this kind of thing or Temple in Philadelphia.  It will only be available here.”

Borgia explained if the school acquires a CEREC machine patients will experience swift care for procedures such as having a tooth capped.

“The newest technology, they have a digital scanner that scans what’s called a preparation.  It’s fed into a machine that cuts the crown out of a block of composite material. Within an hour, that patient walks out with a crown where it used to take weeks to go to a lab.”

The return on the investment for dental technology manufacturers who provide equipment is exposure said Borgia.  Students will also give the companies feedback after using the tools.

“One of my concerns for our students was they would graduate and maybe get involved in some big practice in Washington D.C. or something that would have some of this equipment and they would say ‘Gee, I don’t know how to use that’.  Now, that is not going to happen anymore,” Borgia predicted.

Staffing and maintaining the innovation center will be the university’s responsibility which Borgia said will require patient fees.

“Because the equipment was given to us and because we’ll be given the supplies, yes we’re going to charge a fee.  But, it’s going to be minimal compared to what they would have to pay if they would go to a private practice.”

In addition to students and faculty, the center will be open to the state’s private dentists, approximately 85 percent of whom are WVU School of Dentistry alumni.