Skip to main content

WVU School of Dentistry dean highlights needs for modernization in dental training

A portrait of Dr. Stephen Pachuta is shown on a gold background. Dr. Pachuta is smiling while standing in front of a gray backdrop and wearing a dark jacket with red tie and white shirt.

Dr. Stephen Pachuta, dean of the WVU School of Dentistry, will talk about oral health in West Virginia during the West Virginia Press Association's Legislative Lookahead on Friday (Jan. 5) in Charleston. (WVU Photo)

Download full-size

The dean of the West Virginia University School of Dentistry sees continual investments in innovation within dental education as key to serving the oral health care needs of West Virginia residents, a major contributor to overall health.

Dr. Stephen Pachuta, who will be part of a health care panel during the West Virginia Press Association’s Legislative Lookahead Friday (Jan. 5) in Charleston, is available to discuss oral health care in the Mountain State ahead of the Jan. 10 start of the Legislature’s regular session.

In 2022, 83% of practicing dentists in the state were graduates of the WVU School of Dentistry.


“On our rural rotations, dental and dental hygiene students spend several weeks working in private practices across West Virginia. The dentists are on-the-job mentors. When the rotations end, our partners indicate they could see additional patients with student providers working alongside them. Students credit rural rotation experiences with helping build their confidence. They benefit from repetition in a fast-paced environment.

In academic year 2021–2022, our students on rural rotation provided care to more than 5,600 patients and completed more than 9,500 procedures on West Virginia families. In academic year 2022-2023, those numbers increased, respectively, to 6,100 patients and 11,600 procedures.

“Technological advancements in digital dentistry are rapidly reshaping our profession. Computer-aided design and manufacturing are commonplace. Our innovation center is a gold standard across the nation. Using robotic and additional advanced technology, we continue providing cutting edge education initiatives to better serve students and patients. Moving forward, we must be poised to embrace these technological advances and fully incorporate and integrate them into our curricula.

“Because of that, our renovation and modernization initiative is a strategic imperative. Modernizing our facilities and consolidating our predoctoral and postdoctoral education programs will significantly enhance the education experiences for our students and the patient experience for our West Virginia families — those entrusted to our care.

“We are extremely fortunate to have exceptional faculty and staff who have dedicated their entire professional careers to the WVU School of Dentistry. Their impact on access to specialty care throughout the state has been significant. Of course, the more specialists, particularly in oral and maxillofacial surgery, the more far-reaching effects for West Virginians. It takes significant resources and support to competitively address a genuine need for recruitment and retention of oral surgery faculty. We need to be able to continue to attract highly skilled and renowned oral surgeons to train our surgery residents, as well as meet the specialty needs of those entrusted to our care.

“Nationally, the number of vacant full-time faculty positions has soared from less than 200 in 2011 to more than 535 in 2022. There are an additional 83 vacant part-time faculty positions nationally. This number includes general dentists and specialists. These numbers do not include dental hygiene faculty vacancies which are increasing just as dramatically. You can quickly begin to see the magnitude of the challenge that we are facing across the profession of academic dentistry.” — Dr. Stephen Pachuta, dean, WVU School of Dentistry

West Virginia University experts can provide commentary, insights and opinions on various news topics. Search for an expert by name, title, area of expertise or college/school/department in the Experts Database at WVUToday.



MEDIA CONTACT: Sunshine Wiles
Marketing and Communications Director
WVU School of Dentistry and WVU Dental

Call 1-855-WVU-NEWS for the latest West Virginia University news and information from WVUToday.