New VA Dental Clinic Grand Opening - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

New VA Dental Clinic Grand Opening

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A new VA Dental clinic is now up and running at full capacity in Reno after a soft opening in July. The new clinic is on Virginia street between Peckham and Plumb lanes, just behind the Atlantis Resort Casino. 

"For veterans like myself who are handicapped, it's much easier access," said Gerald Smith. The U.S. Army veteran has been using VA dental care for seven years, but has been to the new clinic just three times. He says convenient parking makes it much easier to get to the dentist chair, compared to the old clinic at the VA Hospital. 

"For me, it take me you know, a half-hour at the old building, to walk in and walk back out," says Smith, who was got his final fitting for new dentures.

The new clinic's building is designed to help veterans, who often deal with a handicap. Large sliding doors, wide hallways, and alcoves help with wheelchair access.

"One of the problems with our old dental clinic was the hallways were so narrow," says Rick Rawson D.D.S./M.S. Chief of Dental Service for the Veterans Affairs of Sierra Nevada, "So if we had 3 or 4 wheelchair patients at a time, the hallway would become clogged."

They have a special machine that helps them make crowns in a fraction of the normal time. Dr. Rawson says from start to finish the process takes one to three hours compared to one to two weeks. Other than time, is saves vets a second trip to the dentist, and a second numbing injection.

They have a special oven for some of the crowns, which acts like a pottery kiln.

"A lot of our veterans have PTSD so they tend to have a much stronger bite," says Dr. Rawson, "They also grind their teeth at night, and this creates a much stronger material to resist breakage"

The clinic has more rooms, doctors, specialists and lab equipment. Dr. Rawson says the clinic can serve two to three times more patients, which is better for vets' overall health.

"A lot of health care is actually tied to dentistry so if you have a tooth infection, it makes it so, the physician can't do other types of doctor work."

Dr. Rawson gave a tour of the building to representatives from veteran service organizations as well as Senator Dean Heller's office, and Congressman Mark Amodei's office. 

Dr. Rawson says about 15 to 20 percent of veterans qualify for VA dental care, depending on their military connection.

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