Tri-State veterans all smiles from gift of free dental care

Thousands of veterans here in the Tri-State and across the country have happy mouths, and with good reason. Aspen Dental, as part of their annual Day of Service, gave them free dental care.

Nearly 150 million Americans did not go to the dentist last year. Millions more live in places, where there is little or no access to care. Or, factors like cost, lack of insurance, and fear hold them back.

"And the last time you had them cleaned was with us right? In January?,” Dr. Carolyn Bates asked retired USAF Veteran Stephen Blackwell in Aspen Dental’s Springdale office. “In January, of this year,” he replied.

"I'll just have you sit right here,” she said to Blackwell, motioning him to the dental chair.

Blackwell told us, he’s grateful to get this kind of care free.

"I think it's a great honor that the company thinks enough of us veterans, to give us free dental care once a year," said Blackwell.

Especially when Aspen Dental reports, the majority of U.S. Veterans are not eligible for dental benefits through the Veterans Administration, unless they are 100% disabled, have a service-related mouth injury or were a prisoner of war.

"Sometimes life gets in the way and they can't get the access to the care they need, so it's a blessing to be able to help them," said Dr. Bates. "The main thing is to try to get them out of pain, if they're in any discomfort or pain. And all of them are very appreciative and I appreciate what they do!"

Bates said they've been busy at their Springdale location, doing everything from x-rays to dental exams, and issuing antibiotic prescriptions for those who needed them.

"It's important for your health and now your mouth feels cleaner and I'm sure it looks better," said Blackwell.

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