Military personnel often have difficulty paying for and finding adequate dental care. While the VA provides some coverage for medical issues, finding sufficient coverage or dental grants for veterans and military retirees is more challenging.
To get started, you should know where can veterans get free dental care and what is available. As dental benefits can vary from one state to another, this blog explores some states that offer free or discounted dental services for veterans.
Free Dental Care For Veterans
Many veterans neglect their medical and dental care during their service, which can result in severe health issues. A convenient and affordable healthcare system is particularly important for the elderly and low-income veterans.
So, where can veterans get free dental care? While some federally sponsored dental programs offer coverage for veterans across most states, the level varies. Additionally, some states offer their own programs and events for veteran dental care. Some of these include the states of California, Florida, New York, and Oregon.
Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program, provides dental care as one of its many benefits. Children and adults who qualify for the program receive free or low-cost dental care.
Among the services covered by MediCal Dental are:
- Exams and x-rays
- Fluoride treatments
- Tooth removal
- Emergency services
- Fillings and crowns
- Scaling and root planing
- Root canal treatments
- Periodontal maintenance
- Denture relines
- Orthodontics for eligible children
- Complete and partial dentures
Veterans Smile Initiative, established by the ADA Institute for Diversity in Leadership, is a program that involves dentists screening and treating veterans in their offices on or around Veterans Day (11/11).
New York State Dental Foundation and the NYSDA sponsor the program. As a purely voluntary initiative, dentists can determine the treatments and services they wish to provide. This program is available to all veterans of the United States military.
Individuals with disabilities, seniors, and medically fragile individuals who cannot afford dental treatment or access public benefits can receive free treatment through the Dental Lifeline Network – New York. Patients who qualify receive comprehensive treatment from volunteer dentists.
To qualify for the program, applicants should not have any means of affording dental care and need to fulfill at least one of the following requirements:
- Must be aged 65 or older
- Must be permanently disabled
- Must require dental care as a matter of medical necessity
Veterans without VA dental coverage can receive essential dental care through the Wounded Veterans Relief Fund's dental program. We offer dental care for dental infections, pain relief, filling to treat decay, restoring chewing ability, providing dentures and implants, and improving employment prospects and overall health.
To be eligible, you must:
- Currently live in Florida as a Florida resident
- Be disabled by service-connected injury or pending a claim for service-connected disability of 30% or more
- Have been honorably discharged from the military
- Work with your VA social worker to complete the WVRF application
You must first meet the basic criteria described above. After approval, they will further assist you. Long-term routine dental care is unfortunately not covered by WVRF. The program is designed to address critical dental needs.
Veterans can get dental insurance through a new Oregon program. This program covers basic dental care in the same way that Medicaid recipients receive benefits through the Oregon Health Plan. Veterans unable to afford dental care out of pocket can take advantage of the program if they earn too much to qualify for full Medicaid benefits.
The state's Veteran Dental Plan provides free fillings, teeth cleanings, dentures, extractions, and emergency care. However, more complex procedures like bridges are excluded from this coverage.
A veteran is eligible if they meet the following criteria:
- Must be living in Oregon
- Must not be eligible for Medicaid’s OHP
- Must meet the veteran requirements set forth in Oregon Revised Statute, except for veterans who are honorably discharged
- Must make less than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level to qualify
Veteran Dental Program participants must provide discharge documentation once determined to be eligible for the program. To apply, veterans can contact their tribal or county Veterans Service Office.
Finding Free Dental Care For Veterans
Access to affordable dental care is essential for veterans' overall mental and physical health. So, where can veterans get free dental care? While military retirees can see if they qualify for VA and VADIP benefits by visiting the VA website, several other organizations now provide free or reduced-cost dental care for veterans in need.
Beyond our honored veterans, everyone should have access to quality dental care. Explore our latest article on finding free dental cleanings in your area. A healthy smile shouldn't come with a hefty price!
Want to learn more about free dental care? Check out our article about pro-bono dental care.
You can visit the Gov-Relations blog for more information about free dental care for veterans in 2023.