A healthy mouth is essential for a healthy body. This fundamental connection, as described by the first U.S. Surgeon General Report on Oral Health in 2000, propelled oral healthcare to the forefront of primary healthcare.

As West Virginia’s only dental school, we embrace the special responsibility to improve the oral health of the citizens of our state through a dynamic, evidence-based, and inter-professional approach to wellness. It’s a big task: West Virginia leads the nation in childhood cavities, adult tooth loss, and gum disease.

We’re taking steps to address the oral health problems by focusing on excellence in education, patient care, research, services, and cutting edge technology. Our vision is to transform lives and eliminate health disparities for West Virginians starting with excellence in oral health.

We’ve made progress. Faculty members have secured nearly $5 million in grants to expand promising population-based research. Our clinics serve patients from every county in the state, and our partnerships with community and rural dentists across the state allow students to provide dental care to thousands of West Virginians in need. And we’ve outlined an ambitious agenda to expand student education and patient services while revitalizing the School’s facility.

Now we turn to you—alumni and friends who share our passion for optimal oral health. We must think creatively how to enhance the rural landscape of West Virginia so everyone has access to oral healthcare. We must overcome declining state funding by partnering with every possible resource.

The Trajectory of Success

The West Virginia University School of Dentistry has a national reputation for producing excellent clinicians, both dentists and dental hygienists. More than half of all West Virginia residents admitted into the School of Dentistry have remained in state after graduation. Approximately 81 percent of the state’s practicing dentists are WVU alumni.

Through our rural partnerships, dental and dental hygiene students have seen more than 17,000 patients and performed more than 32,000 procedures over the past decade. For this service, the School received the first-ever OrnaShanley Prize for Enhancing Access to Care by the American Dental Education and the International Federation of Dental Education Associations.

Engineering and dentistry researchers are collaborating to develop an ultrasound tool to improve early detection of periodontal disease, a common cause of tooth loss in older adults. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded a $1.2 million grant to build on studies linking gum disease and mild-to-moderate memory loss, as well as a $2.8 million grant to study oral health disparities in northern Appalachia.

These amazing advances hold promise for improving the health of the people of West Virginia and beyond. But, more work is needed.

Priorities for Tomorrow

Through A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University, we ask you to invest in the School of Dentistry: in our students, our faculty, and our programs. Our vision is to transform lives and eliminate health disparities for West Virginians starting with excellence in oral health.

  • New Facility Construction and Technology Enhancements
  • Endowed Faculty Positions
  • Student Scholarships

To learn more about these funding priorities visit or contact Karen Coombs at 304-293-1868. To learn more about the School of Dentistry visit