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More than 4,000 veterans are back on the road to a healthy mouth

Aspen Dental dentists and teams from across the country have donated $2.1 million in free dental care as part of a commitment to making dentistry easier for veterans. (Photo: Aspen Dental)

Tue. 26 July 2016


SYRACUSE, N.Y., USA: More than 4,000 veterans are back on the road to a healthy mouth, thanks to what is believed to be the largest single-day oral health initiative for veterans in the country. On Saturday, June 25, approximately 2,400 volunteer Aspen Dental dentists and team members from nearly 400 Aspen Dental practices across the U.S. opened their doors and provided 4,159 veterans with the dental care they deserved, completely free of charge.

The dental services provided totaled $2,151,305 in donated dentistry.

It was all part of Aspen Dental’s Healthy Mouth Movement, an initiative that launched in 2014 to provide free dental care and education to those who need it most, with a special focus on veterans. Of the more than 21 million veterans across the U.S. today, fewer than 10 million are enrolled for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health benefits, which for many does not include dental care benefits. Veterans do not receive dental benefits through the VA unless they are classified as 100% disabled, have a service-connected dental condition, or have a service-oriented medical condition that is affected by their mouth.

Allen Williams was one of the thousands of veterans served by Aspen Dental on this year’s Day of Service, and his story made a lasting impact on the Waterloo, Iowa, staff. Williams, a former Marine who has selflessly helped those around him all his life, was too embarrassed to smile after years of neglecting his dental care because he couldn’t afford the care he needed. You can see a video of Williams online, by visiting

“A Marine is supposed to be proud of themselves, and be able to smile, and look at themselves in the mirror,” Williams said. “But I can’t look in the mirror some days.”

Local Aspen Dental dentist Dr. Ala’a Al Arabi said the story touched something inside of him and therefore, was honored to have the opportunity to give Williams the healthy new smile he deserved.

“A veteran shouldn’t live that way,” Al Arabi said. “Allen served our country and deserves this. It’s going to change his life.”

Similar scenes played out around the country. At the Aspen Dental office in Natick, Mass., the doctor and team saw a veteran who had not visited a dentist in over 20 years. He had a life-long fear of doctors and his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) had recently been so bad that his wife told office staff that he was “done with life.” After his appointment, the patient was so filled with gratitude for the care he received and the kindness shown to him that he broke down in tears.

The experience meant just as much to members of the Aspen Dental team who delivered the care.

“I’ve never been hugged so tightly by a stranger,” Aspen Dental office manager Danielle Smalls said. “I know we can’t forever heal his internal wounds, but to know that we made a difference, I’m glad we can do that for him.”

For lab technician Ryan Wilton in Utica, N.Y., the day of service hit even closer to home.

“It’s really something special to give back to our veterans,” he said. “As a fellow vet, I feel a deep sense of pride knowing that I work for a company that values our service members by providing them quality dental care for free. Aspen’s Healthy Mouth Movement and the National Day of Service are truly initiatives that I am proud to be a part of.”

Since the launch of the Healthy Mouth Movement in 2014, Aspen Dental-branded practices have donated more than $6 million in free dental care and have served 11,500 patients. The Healthy Mouth Movement will continue in the fall with several more MouthMobile events.

(Source: Aspen Dental)


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