# great info as published at Yahoo Health; article by Amy Rushlow | June 2015
Most veterans who completed active duty are eligible for health benefits through the Veterans Health Administration, with one big exception: dental care.
In general, dental care is limited to veterans with a service-related disability, former prisoners of war, and people participating in a VA Vocational Rehabilitation program. And even then, the dental procedures a person is eligible for vary widely depending on service history and other factors.
To help bridge this gap, Aspen Dental, which has more than 300 locations in the U.S., is offering free dental care and screenings to all veterans on Saturday, June 27. Dentists and their staff are volunteering their time for the event, which is part of the broader community-based Healthy Mouth Movement launched last year.
“Many people struggle to find oral health care when they need it,” Schatzie Vincent, DMD, director of clinical support and community giving for Aspen Dental Management, Inc., tells Yahoo Health. “In fact, the numbers are pretty staggering — the American Dental Association estimates that more than 150 million American adults didn’t visit a dentist last year. The Healthy Mouth Movement was launched in 2014 for a very simple reason: Those teams wanted to do even more to give back to people in need in their communities.”
An advance appointment is necessary to take part in the free dental care for veterans. Call 1-844-AspenHMM (1-844-277-3646) to schedule an appointment and find a participating location near you.
Preventive care is essential to help save costs down the line.Studies show that largely preventable cavities and abscesses account for about 80 percent of dental-related ER visits. And according to research from the Pew Center on the States, treatment in the ER for dental care costs nearly 10 times as much as preventive care.
Jere Gillan, DMD, an Aspen Dental Dentist and practice owner in Merritt Island, Florida, will be volunteering on Saturday. “I served in the Air Force myself, so this issue holds special significance for me, and I’m both excited and proud to be able to give back to the Veteran community,” Gillan tells Yahoo Health.
According to a review in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, dental concerns are common among Iraq and Afghanistan vets, whose hygiene may be compromised due to the harsh combat environment. In addition, homeless vets have twice the odds of needing dental care compared with homeless non-veterans, says a study that included interviews with nearly 3,000 homeless individuals.
Check out these other resources for veterans in need of dental care:
- Veteran Dental Care is available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; however, you must meet certain eligibility requirements.
- The VA Dental Insurance Program (VADIP) offers dental insurance to veterans at a reduced cost. Children and spouses of veterans may also be eligible.
- In some states, dental care for adults may be covered through Medicaid. (All state Medicaid programs cover dental care for children.)
- The Dental Lifeline Network provides dental care to people who can’t afford it and meet other eligibility requirements, such as having a permanent disability or being age 65 or older.