Giving military vets a reason to smile

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W-B VA Medical Center offers state-of-the-art dental services


PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Some local military veterans have good reason to smile these days. They are receiving top-notch dental care thanks to some state-of-the-art technology.

The home of that technology is the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center. Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller got a behind-the-scenes look at what’s there and how our veterans greatly benefit from it.

A humming sound inside the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center wasn’t a photocopier warming up. It was a dental mill. In the glow of a green light inside it was a ceramic block which the mill was measuring side to side. Using 3D guidance, it shaped what will be a dental crown for a veteran.

“That ensures that the control of the accuracy which is actually down to the micron is where it’s supposed to be,” Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center Dental Lab Technician Rich Della Croce said.

The crown is shaped, shaded, glazed and ready for the veteran patient all in the same day. It’s definitely not your grandfather’s dental clinic. Just ask Mr. Della Croce whose grandfather and father were dentists.

“You worked off dye work. You cast metal in the old fashioned way and you fired porcelain on it old-fashioned,” said Mr. Della Croce. “Today you can do the same thing in an hour.”

And it’s not just same-day crowns available at the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center. A full set of dentures can be done in just one office visit by customizing a prefabricated denture.

“We get something that is very close with the patient, heat it up in water, and mold it and fit it to the patient’s mouth,” Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center Dental Clinic Chief Jeff Manzo, DMD said.

Air Force Veteran Sherri Keener of Dallas turned to Dr. Manzo for same-day dentures.

“I would have been devastated had I had to walk out of here without teeth,” she said.

Her level of satisfaction? “You just put them in and you’re, it’s like a total transformation and I love it,” Keener said.

Dr. Manzo is proud of the dental clinic he oversees which gives our military veterans a reason to smile.

“To be able to leave with something in their mouth when they come here with nothing is amazing and that’s the reason that we have something like this,” he said.

The Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center is one of only three VA facilities in the nation with same-day denture technology. Instead of several visits of roughly an hour each, the dentures are ready in about an hour and a half.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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