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'Wisdom for Wisdom' program provides students with free oral surgery

Many college students struggle financially due to the costs of tuition, textbooks, and room and board. To help cushion the burden of finding funds to pay for higher education, a West Virginia group is giving students one less thing to worry about paying for.

Mountain State Oral & Facial Surgery recently launched a program to help financially struggling college students by offering them free wisdom teeth extractions to allow their money to go toward their education instead.

Kayden England, a 17-year-old student at Westside High School in Clear Fork, said she experiences frequent migraines and extreme mouth pain because of her erupted wisdom teeth, which caused her to develop a slight speech impediment.

England is a junior and is already picking out colleges she’d like to apply to, and the costs will not be cheap. Fortunately, she applied to Mountain State Oral & Facial Surgery’s Wisdom for Wisdom program and was chosen as one of two students to receive the surgery at no cost.

She said by being relieved of the payment for her surgery, she can save her money for when she needs to begin paying for college tuition and books in a few years.

Her surgeon, Dr. Jose Ravelo, said the program aims to make a positive change in students’ lives by giving them a much-needed operation for free — one that he said continues to increase in cost.

“I think it’s a really good opportunity for every single patient who has a dream to get better and better,” he said. “Why? Because health bills are getting more and more expensive, so instead of spending that money on something we have to do, [you can] spend it on buying books or whatever is necessary to reach your goal.”

Ravelo has practiced oral and maxillofacial surgery in both Mexico and the United States and is certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support and Advanced Trauma Life Support, among others. He has also worked with Doctors Without Borders.

Wisdom teeth are the last set of molars that develop in the back four corners of the mouth, but it can be common for someone to have more or less than four.

Ravelo said while wisdom teeth were once extremely important to the mouth for eating raw foods during prehistoric times, throughout evolution, they have come to serve no real purpose.

“We’re talking about the time of the caveman. We had a bigger jaw, that way we had more space for wisdom teeth,” he said. “Now, with evolution, food is softer, we use silverware, so the jaw doesn’t grow as much. So, we don’t have space.”

Though some needing wisdom teeth removal might think they can cut cost by forgoing the procedure, that’s wishful thinking.

According to Mountain State Oral & Facial Surgery, removal is recommended to prevent serious health issues from arising. Those issues can include pain — like England had — infection, cysts, tumors, gum disease and even tooth decay.

Two students were chosen to receive the removal for free after watching a short video about the procedure, taking a quiz and submitting an essay about what they learned. Currently, only two students are chosen a year.

“The more you help society, the more that it gives back to you. That’s my philosophy,” he said. “So, I believe it’s important to give back. We’re part of the community, and if this is a good way to offer something to the community, why not [do it]?”

Ravelo said he hopes the program will grow to be able to accommodate even more students throughout the calendar year as it moves forward.

Reach Jordyn Johnson at jordyn.johnson@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5163 or follow

@JordynJohnsonWV on Twitter.

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