Article written and documented by Dr. Greg Grillo (dentably.com)
For veterans, navigating their oral care benefits can be a confusing experience. There’s a lot of information out there, and not all of it reads easily or is presented in the best manner. As a dentist of 20 years and a veteran myself, I understand the frustration and have worked to help veterans understand and utilize the benefits they deserve. Today, I want to look at who qualifies for VA dental benefits, and what you can do as a veteran that doesn’t qualify to help make your dental care more affordable.
What Services Are Covered?
The services covered vary largely based on the class you qualify for below. In general though, any procedures that are critical to your oral health such as preventative care and oral surgeries might be covered.
Dental Care Classes
One of the most confusing aspects of VA dental care is the large number of classes. These each have their own eligibility requirements, so it’s important to understand which one you might quality for.
Class I: Veterans with a service related dental condition or disability are eligible for any care needed.
Class IIC: Former POWs are eligible for any care needed.
Class IV: If you have a service related disability rated as 100% disabling or are unable to work due to disability you are eligible for any services needed.
Class II: You are eligible for one time care if you were discharged without a dental examination, and under conditions other than dishonorable, and can prove this with your DD214.
Class IIA: Under discretion from the VA office, if you have non-compensable service connected condition that resulted from wounds in combat you may be eligible for any services needed.
Class V: If you are a member of a 38 USC chapter 31 vocational rehabilitation program, and you are in good standing, you are eligible for any dental costs that make your participation and success in said program possible.
Class: VI: If you are currently receiving inpatient care and have a dental issue that complications your current medical condition then you are eligible for treatment of said dental issue.
Class IIB: If you are homeless or receiving care under VHA directive 2007-039 then you are eligible for dental care to relieve pain, assist in gaining employment, or treat severe gum disease.
That’s the entire list of classes, and what type of conditions qualify you for care. If you still have questions, and that’s perfectly alright this is confusing stuff, then talking your local VA office or visiting the VA website is the best place to get clarification.
While there are a lot of options here for care, not every veteran is going to qualify for care. This is unfortunate, but there’s other options out there for those that don’t fit any of the above criteria.
The best option is to look at the National VA Dental Insurance Program. They offer affordable dental insurance for veterans that can help make dental care more reasonably priced. While it’s not a free service, the premiums and copays they offer are inexpensive, and can help put in reach dental care for a number of veterans. They offer civilian health services, so you’ll be able to utilize this benefit after your service in the military.
Even if the above options are all out of reach for you there is still hope for your dental care. Many dentists around the country offer discounts can help make the costs more affordable. Many dentists have taken it upon themselves to help out veterans going through tough times, and offer discounted or even free services to those who served.
This is highly variable by location, and may take a little bit of searching to find. Many of these dentist will advertise though, so searching for them and checking out their website is a good way to find out. It never hurts to ask either, many dentists will be happy to help out a former veteran keep their oral health in check.
Finding dental care as a veteran can be confusing and frustrating, but it’s important to not give up. Your dental care is very important, and there are a lot of options out there to help keep it within your means. For extra help, the VA department is always available, and can answer any questions you might have.