The United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) does not provide dental benefits unless the recipient is 100% disabled or has a service-related mouth injury. To help make up the shortfall in dental coverage, Aspen Dental is kicking off the 2016 edition of its annual Healthy Mouth Movement with NASCAR star Danica Patrick.
“I’ve been involved with the Healthy Mouth Movement from the very beginning, and to see the impact it makes on the lives of our veterans year after year is incredible,” said Patrick. “It’s really great to see how regaining a healthy smile can truly transform veterans’ lives.”
Aspen Dental is encouraging supporters to share photos of their smiles on social media with the hashtags #Smile4Vets and #Sweepstakes and at Smile4Vets.com. For each smile shared, the company will donate $1 to Got Your 6, a campaign that empowers veterans to help strengthen the communities that they serve.
Also, Aspen Dental will display these photos on a digital billboard at the Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend, Feb. 26 through Feb. 28. Everyone who shares their smile will be entered for a chance to win free dental care for a veteran in their life, plus a trip to the Pure Michigan 400 in August and an opportunity to meet Patrick.
The Healthy Mouth Movement will help more than that lucky winner, though. Its MouthMobile is about to embark on a 30-city tour to provide free dental care to veterans across the country. The 42-foot mobile clinic will make its first stop on Thursday, Feb. 25 at Centennial Park in Atlanta, with another stop on March 1 in Jacksonville, Fla, and March 3 in Daytona Beach, Fla.
“In our first year of the Healthy Mouth Movement in 2014, we noticed a need among veterans for dental services,” said Dr. Schatzie Vincent, director of clinical support and community giving at Aspen Dental Management, “and since then we have strengthened our commitment to serving this community who so selflessly served our country.”
So far, the Healthy Mouth Movement has served more than 4,000 veterans nationwide, administering $2.8 million dollars in free dental care in 2015. However, fewer than 10 million of the 21 million veterans in the United States are enrolled for VA benefits, and more than 1.2 million of them lack insurance altogether.
Aspen’s volunteers treat each patient’s most urgent dental need, such as fillings, extractions, and denture repairs. Once patients are out of pain, the volunteers educate them about their other dental needs and connect them with free or low-cost resources in their community to help them continue to address their oral health.
In addition to the MouthMobile, which boasts a pair of fully functioning treatment rooms, a digital x-ray unit, and a denture repair lab, Aspen Dental Care practices will provide care as part of the Healthy Mouth Movement. Treatment is free and no proof of income is necessary, though appointments are required for services with the MouthMobile and at Aspen practices.