SPRINGFIELD — One lucky Central Illinois veteran got a free trip to the dentist as part of the Healthy Mouth Movement by Aspen Dental. Its goal is to treat as many veterans as possible, without cost to them.
The program is bringing more smiles to the community. For thousands of vets, like Ed Dorsey, it’s been hard to afford dental care.
The Department of Veterans Affairs does not help veterans who are not disabled receive dental insurance.
“Vietnam vets especially, should be entitled to that dental care, big time, because that’s a big problem.”
Dorsey is just one of thousands of veterans getting taken care of through the Healthy Mouth Movement. More than 300 Aspen Dental offices opened their doors this summer to provide free dental care to veterans in need.
“It’s been amazing,I mean, I can come in here anything if I have a problem or anything. I can come right here in Aspen Dental and they’ve taken care of me.”
Dorsey started his treatment in June to get a new set of teeth; something he never thought was possible.
“Nobody wants to be without teeth. I don’t care if they’re fake or whatever, you don’t usually get them. We have to usually wait three months.”
After his first visit, he noticed he had something in common with his doctor. Dr.Kim serves in the National Guard. Once they got to talking, they both realized they were in South Korea at the same time.
“Being a dentist and, at the same time, I can actually contribute my skills to soldiers, soldiers who are in need makes me feel like the right thing to do.”
Dorsey says their bond is special and Dr. Kim says it’s a rewarding job.
“When I see his beautiful smile, I know I did the right thing.”
Since the Healthy Mouth Movement started, it’s helped more than 4,000 veterans get treatment.
“I think it’s awesome what they’re doing, but I think maybe more people need to start playing tag and start doing the same thing.”
Aspen Dental says, last year, more than 155 million Americans skipped a trip to the dentist.
Aspen Dental doesn’t just help those who’ve served. The Healthy Mouth Movement also travels the country in a fully-equipped dental office on wheels called the Mouthmobile.
It drives into communities where care is not readily available or affordable. Since it started, it’s helped more than 11,000 get treatment.