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Syracuse dentist gives back with free service to veterans

Eastwood Dental Office, PC
Eastwood Dental Office, PC

Veterans are being honored in many different ways on Veterans Day. One way a Syracuse dentist honors them is by offering free dental care.

From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Eastwood Dental in Syracuse is offering free dental cleanings, fillings and extractions to any veteran on a first-come-first-serve basis. Dentist Dr. Joan Laura is in her 11th year of offering this service to the community’s veterans.

“It's totally free,” Laura said. “You do not have to bring insurance paperwork. You don't need to bring your wallet. Everything is totally free.”

Laura said she offers free dental services in honor of her father, a Korean War veteran.

"My only regret is he's never seen me do this," Laura said. "I just wish I had thought of this sooner, so he could have sat in that way and talk to all those veterans and shared all those stories."

She said since she started this annual Veteran's Day service, she’s donated more than $65,000 in free dentistry and treated 361 veterans.

“What humbles me is I do dentistry all day long. I'm not putting myself out. These veterans have given so much more to serve this country than what I've done. I'm just going to do some dentistry, and to me, that's the easiest thing that I can possibly do to say 'Thank you.'”

Laura said she expects to serve about 40 veterans this year – bringing in an additional hygienist and assistants to help meet demand.

"I'm very happy that I can offer this service for them, because people that keep their teeth live an average of ten years longer," Laura said. "If I can help the veterans keep their teeth for the rest of their life, ideally or as long as possible, the veterans will be in a much better position, a much healthier position."

Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.