As a nation, we owe great gratitude to the men and women who have served in our military, putting their lives on the line to protect our freedoms. For many veterans, dental care is an essential part of staying healthy.
However, oral health is a challenge for many veterans, with 2 out of 5 reporting their oral health as poor. Many find it expensive and hard to access. Fortunately, there are ways for veterans to get free or discounted dental care through the Veterans Affairs (VA) department.
This post provides a comprehensive guide on accessing free veteran dental care.
Understanding Free Veteran Dental Care
Free dental care is available for veterans who either have a service-related mouth injury, are 100% disabled, or were prisoners of war. Depending on your assigned classification, you can get free dental treatments or portions. In some cases, veterans only get a one-time dental treatment, while others can get a recurring treatment.
The assessment of a VA dentist is also required to determine applicable dental services. This is a limited program that, unfortunately, doesn’t cover all veterans. As such, many turn to free veteran dental care offered by private non-profit organizations.
Eligibility for VA dental care depends on a variety of factors, including:
- Active duty service members
- Veterans who were honorably discharged
- Any disability status and current disability benefits
- Certain reservists and national guard members
- Certain eligible dependents of veterans
To determine if you’re eligible for VA dental care, you can visit the VA’s eligibility website and use their online tool to see if you qualify. You can also visit your local VA office for assistance or call the hotline at 1-877-222-VETS (8387).
It’s important to note that eligibility for VA dental care is not the same as other VA health benefits eligibility. If you’re a veteran who served in the active military, naval, or air service and are not sure if you’re eligible for VA dental care, it’s recommended that you reach out to the VA for clarification.
Free Dental Care Program For Veterans
Aside from the VA, several non-profit organizations provide dental care for veterans and their dependents.
Veterans Smile Day Foundation
This foundation recruits dentists and gathers corporate sponsorships to provide dental care to veterans who need it the most. Since 2012, they’ve been joined by thousands of dentists, dental students, dental schools, hospitals, and dental societies.
Every year, their volunteers conduct free comprehensive dental care for veterans within the neighborhood. These veterans don’t pay a penny for the services they receive, which include cleanings, extractions, dentures, partials, root canals, and anything else the veteran may need to have a bright smile.
The organization is trying to recruit as many dentists as they can nationwide so veterans can access a nearby dentist in emergencies. Depending on the dentist, veterans can also get treatment for their dependents.
Adopt A Vet Dental Program
This non-profit organization provides dental care to low-income and homeless veterans in need. The program partners with local dentists and dental practices to offer eligible veterans free or low-cost dental services, including routine cleanings, fillings, extractions, and other necessary treatments.
The program is available in Nevada and is designed to help veterans struggling to access basic dental care due to financial constraints or a lack of insurance coverage. By providing access to quality dental care, the program aims to improve veterans’ overall health and well-being and support them as they transition back into civilian life.
Aspen Dental Healthy Mouth Movement
Aspen Dental is a network of independently owned dental offices operated by licensed dentists. They are present nationwide, making them a large group that is accessible to a lot of people. Every year they open their doors exclusively for veterans to receive free dental care.
Veterans who can provide a valid ID receive the dental treatment they need to observe healthy teeth and gums. The Healthy Mouth Movement also has a Mouth Mobile, a 42-foot-long dental office on wheels that goes around communities and treats veterans for free. This mobile clinic is equipped with x-rays and treatment rooms and is handicap friendly.
Aspen Dental’s goal is to provide dental care for veterans who are not eligible for VA dental services.
Everyone For Veterans Free Dental Program
This program works with civilians and professionals to provide free dental care for impoverished veterans and their spouses. To be qualified, the veteran must have completed at least one enlistment period and been honorably discharged.
The organization works with dentists who provide pro bono services through their No-Cost Comprehensive Dental Care Program. These dentists live in the same area as the veterans, so they don’t have to travel to get oral care.
As a result, veterans get long-term dental care crucial for good oral health. The organization also has a Resource Program to help veterans with other life needs.
Other Options For Veteran Dental Care
Aside from the free resources above, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers comprehensive dental care to eligible veterans through their VA Dental Insurance Program (VADIP). This program gives discounted services covered under VADIP, including:
- Routine dental exams and cleanings
- Fillings and extractions
- Root canals
- Crowns and bridges
- Dentures and partial dentures
- Periodontics (gum disease treatment)
The exact dental services covered under VADIP may vary depending on individual circumstances and availability, but the program aims to provide a full range of dental services to eligible veterans. It’s important to note that some dental treatments, such as cosmetic procedures, may not be covered. Veterans should consult with their local VA dental clinic to understand the specific services covered by their insurance plan.
Aside from free veteran dental care, we’ve also discussed dental grants available for veterans. You can check these out in case you need further oral treatment.