Affordable dental care is a right that everyone deserves. It is critical to total mind and body health, and some dental injuries can lead to bloodstream infections and worse. The hard part of today’s society is that dental care goes overlooked by a lot of people. Many don’t think they need it, but a lot of times, people just can’t find it affordably!
It can be especially difficult for veterans to find dental care when they need it. Not all veterans are eligible for this care, and the language is very technical and convoluted when it comes to who gets care and who does not. This makes it hard for them to get the help they deserve.
I understand this frustration because I have experienced it myself first hand. Before I established my own practice, I served as a dental officer in the Navy. Now, I have over 20 years of specialized experience that I want to share with veterans so they can understand their dental benefits and find the treatment they need.
One of the ways that I do this is by trying to make the convoluted information much easier to understand. I want veterans to understand their rights, and know their options in case they don’t qualify for dental care. No one should go without proper dental care in this country, especially not the people who serve it.
Who is eligible for dental care?
There are 9 different classes of eligibility when it comes to dental care benefits for veterans. Although many people have endeavored to make this easier through their veterans benefits guides, it can still be difficult to navigate these classes. I have stripped away the convoluted language to make them very easy to understand.
Anyone with a dental disability or condition covered through a connected service is eligible for the necessary dental care of this disability and condition.
Anyone who did not receive a full dental examination and any appropriate treatment upon learning the results of the examination is eligible for one-time care with their unsigned DD214 Certificate of Discharge.
Anyone who can provide and maintain a dentition that is fully maintained, as with Dental Trauma Rating 10-564-D, that also has a noncompensable dental condition or resulting disability as a direct result of their time spent in service is eligible for necessary dental care as determined by the VA Regional Office Rating Decision.
Anyone who is enrolled under VHA Directive 2007-039 as a care receiving or homeless veteran, and who has a medically necessary procedure that will treat gum conditions, relieve pain, or assist with obtaining gainful employment may be eligible for a one-time care to correct this problem.
Anyone who was ever made a prisoner of war is eligible for any necessary dental care.
Anyone who has a disability that rates 100% on the disabling scale that occurred during your time of service is eligible for the necessary care and relief. Unemployed and unpaid veterans who are unemployed or unpaid as a direct result of this disability also qualify.
Any veteran who can meet the criteria of their 38 USC Chapter 31 vocational rehabilitation program while participating in it is eligible for necessary dental work.
Anyone who is currently receiving, or scheduled to receive, inpatient care of any kind that would be adversely affected or complicated because of an oral condition is entitled to the necessary dental care to treat the potential complication before receiving that inpatient care. A VA dental professional can make that assessment.
Further questions can be addressed directly with the US Department of Veteran Affairs. Their website has extensive information and contacts for local offices who can better assist you in navigating your rights.
What if I don’t qualify for those benefits?
There are some options available for people who don’t qualify for direct VA benefits. Don’t lose hope because the National VA Dental Insurance Program will still provide dental insurance to veterans through their Civilian Health and Medical Program. This works like regular dental insurance (with a copay and monthly payments) but it is drastically discounted in an effort to make it affordable for veterans. This program includes surgery, restoration, emergency, and preventative care as well as endodontics.
What if I can’t afford that program?
If you still haven’t found a solution that works within your capabilities, there are still a lot of resources available. Many dentists are former servicemen, just like myself. Because they empathize first hand, they have begun offering free dental care to veterans. Those who don’t usually offer drastically discounted rates and payment options that work within your budget.
Everyone deserves affordable dental care. It can be extremely frustrating to know that you are ineligible for benefits, but don’t give up because there are tons of people who want to help the veterans who sacrificed so much in service to their country.