Everyone deserves to receive dental care and have it be accessible to them. In fact, having a healthy mouth is essential to one’s overall wellbeing. However, sometimes finding the right dental care can be difficult, especially for veterans.
As a dentist who has been practicing for nearly 20 years and a veteran myself, I am committed to educating other dentists about veterans their eligibility for dental care and how they can help those who have served their country have the healthiest mouth possible.
Veteran Eligibility for Dental Care
It can be confusing for veterans to know what kind of dental care benefits they qualify for, especially when there are so many different classes of eligibility. As a dentist, knowing more about eligibility classes can help you better understand what kind of care a veteran may be seeking. There are nine classes and each one is different in terms of what kind of care an individual can receive. Here is what each class means.
- Class I: You are eligible for any needed dental care if you have a condition or dental disability that is compensated through a connected service.
- Class IIC: You are eligible for any needed dental care if you are a prior prisoner of war.
- Class IV: You are eligible for any needed dental care if you have disabilities that are rate 100% on the disabling scale that were acquired through service, or if you are unemployed because you have a disability.
- Class II: You are eligible for one-time dental care if your DD214 certificate of discharge has not indicated that a full dental examination and appropriate treatment was rendered before your discharge.
- Class IIA: You are eligible for any needed dental care if you can provide and maintain a definition that is fully maintained, such as a Dental Trauma Rating 0-564-D, or a letter, the VA Form 10-7131, from the VA Regional Office Rating Decision to identify the dental care that is needed.
- Class III: You are eligible for any needed dental care to treat oral conditions determined to have a hirect detrimental effect on your service through a connected medical condition by a VA dental professional.
- Class V: You are eligible for any needed dental care if you are engaged actively in a 38 USC Chapter 31 vocational rehabilitation program.
- Class VI: You are eligible for any needed dental care to treat any oral condition that has been deemed to complicate your current medical condition, but only if you are scheduled for or are currently receiving inpatient care.
- Class IIB: You are eligible for a one-time course for care if it has been deemed medically necessary for the purpose of relieving pain, treating moderate, complicated, or severe gum disease, or if it is to assist you in gaining employment.
You can always visit the VA website if you are unsure which class someone may fall in or if you have any other questions about a patient’s eligibility.
What to Do If A Patient is Not Eligible
Sometimes patients learn that they are not eligible, and it can be discouraging. Fortunately, there are ways for you to help them to still receive care
Start by encouraging them to visit the National VA Dental Insurance Program where they can enroll in the Civilian Health and Medical Program. This will give them the opportunity to have dental insurance at a reduced price through MetLife or Delta Dental. Let your patients know that they will be expected to pay a fixed monthly premium and existing co-payments depending on the plan, but endodontics, restorative, preventative, emergency, and surgical treatments will all be covered.
How to Apply For Dental Care
A patient may ask you how to go about applying for dental benefits and you should lead them to the VA website. The application is somewhat simple, but they will need to have a few documents and paperwork ready in order to fill out. To complete the application they will need their:
- Social Security Number
- Copy of your military discharge papers
- Financial Information
- Most recent tax return
- Account numbers or any health insurance you currently have
After an application is submitted they will then be assigned to one of eight priority groups. The system helps make sure that Veterans who need immediate care can get signed up quickly. Veterans with service-connected disabilities receive the highest priority while veterans who earn a higher income placed lower in the list.
Other Oral Care Avenues
If for some reason a patient is not able to receive dental care through the VA, there are still other options available. Because it can sometimes be difficult to find and receive the care that is needed, many dentists across the United States offer free or highly discounted services to veterans who are in desperate need of dental care.
Aspen Dental has over 500 offices across the nation, dispenses a mobile unit that travels the country, and offers specific services to veterans. They have great availability with their dental offices open weekends as well. In 2015, Aspen Dental teamed up with Got Your 6, a non-profit organization that helps and supports veterans, to aid in further mobilization of dentists across the nation.
Navigating dental benefits as a veteran can be difficult and confusing. This is especially true when you factor in the criteria for eligibility. However, there are ways to find the dental care need no matter a patient’s eligibility for benefits. Everyone deserves to have a healthy mouth, free of gum disease, especially those who have served our country. While it’s easy for patients to become discouraged if they are not eligible for care through the VA, try to help patients remain positive through this process as there are many other avenues for care at a free or discounted price.
About The Author
Dr. Greg Grillo has been a practicing dentist in Washington State for more than 17 years. After studying at the University of Washington, Dr. Grillo received a bachelor’s degree with honors before attending the School of Dentistry on the same campus.
Dr. Grillo is committed to caring for families and educating his patients about the health benefits that come with a good oral hygiene routine. This is especially true for families that have children with autism, Down syndrome or other additional needs. As a valuable member of the Dentably team, Dr. Grillo is able to share his expertise with you to make your next appointment at the dentist a comfortable experience.
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