Thousands of veterans will receive free dental care on Sat., June 27, when practice owners and teams at more than 300 Aspen Dental-branded practices in 31 states volunteer their time and talents for what is expected to be the largest single-day oral health initiative for veterans.
It's part of the Healthy Mouth Movement, a community-giving initiative launched by Aspen Dental-branded practices in 2014 to deliver free dental care and oral health education to people in need.
"There is a serious and urgent need to improve access to oral health care across the United States and this holds true for our nation's veterans," says Dr. Schatzie Vincent, director of clinical support and community giving at Aspen Dental Management, Inc. "Aspen Dental practices are seeking to bring attention to this issue and make a positive impact by opening their doors to give back to thousands of veterans in need across the country."
Like millions of other Americans, veterans can struggle to find oral health care when they need it. Typically, a veteran must have a service-connected dental condition or disability, be a former prisoner of war or have service-connected disabilities that have been classified as completely disabling to be eligible for dental benefits through the Departments of Veterans Affairs. Legislation was just recently approved to provide vets and their families the option to purchase dental insurance through major carriers at a discounted rate.
Interested veterans should call 1-844-AspenHMM to find a participating Aspen Dental-branded practice in their community and schedule an appointment in advance. During appointments on June 27, dentists and volunteers will focus on treating the most urgent need of each veteran by providing free services-including fillings, extractions and basic denture repair-to help free them of dental pain.
"I am excited to continue my work with Aspen Dental to increase awareness about the importance of oral health through the Healthy Mouth Movement," said Danica Patrick, NASCAR driver and Aspen Dental spokesperson. "This year is special because we are focusing our efforts on honoring and serving veterans, who have given so much to our country."
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The 2015 Healthy Mouth Movement is being conducted in proud partnership with Got Your 6, a highly influential campaign that empowers veterans to strengthen our communities nationwide. Got Your 6-meaning "I got your back"-focuses on areas of veteran reintegration, including leadership, health and education.
"We are pleased to partner with Aspen Dental this year to empower veterans by helping address their oral health issues," says Chris Marvin, managing director of Got Your 6. "Like Got Your 6, Aspen Dental believes that our veterans have the unique potential to strengthen and reinvigorate their communities. It is powerful initiatives like the Healthy Mouth Movement that ensure our veterans are valued as the civic assets that they are."
In addition to the efforts of local volunteers on June 27, the Healthy Mouth Movement is reaching veterans through the MouthMobile, a 42-foot mobile dentist office on wheels that drives directly into the communities where Americans need oral health care the most. This year, the MouthMobile is stopping at 28 locations in 21 states from March through November. The MouthMobile already served nearly 200 veterans, with the help of more than 90 volunteers donating nearly $77,000 in free dental care services in the first eight stops of 2015.
The oral health crisis in America
Aspen Dental-branded practices launched the Healthy Mouth Movement to bring attention to the often-overlooked dental health care landscape. Research shows that for many Americans, dental care has become discretionary, a "nice to do" rather than a "must have." In fact, an estimated 150 million American adults avoided a dental visit altogether last year.
A recent survey of more than 1,000 adults conducted by ORC International and commissioned by Aspen Dental Management, Inc. found that: