Aspen Dental volunteers provide free oral health care to veterans in need

Throughout 2015, Aspen Dental volunteers are “serving those who have served our nation” by providing free care to veterans through the Healthy Mouth Movement.

“The Healthy Mouth Movement is a community giving initiative launched by Aspen Dental dentists and teams to deliver free dental care and oral health education to people in need across the United States,” said Amy Cornue, public relations manager with Aspen Dental Management, Inc.

The movement has two key components: the MouthMobile, a fully-equipped dental office on wheels that is making 28 stops across the U.S. throughout the year, plus days of free service at Aspen Dental offices.

The MouthMobile made two stops in Ohio in 2015. On May 5, Aspen Dental volunteers provided care to 20 veterans at the Joseph House in Cincinnati, and on May 7 Aspen Dental volunteers provided care to 15 veterans in Columbus at the Statehouse. Care included extractions, fillings, X-rays and cleanings.

Dr. Murali Lakireddy, a general dentist who owns Aspen Dental offices in Cleveland and Columbus and is an Ohio Dental Association member, said he was thankful to be able to serve people who have provided so much service to the country through the military.

“I met a gentleman in his 80s who had served our country for years who needed dental care, and he hadn’t been in to a dentist for three or four years,” Lakireddy said. “I was happy to get him in, and it felt good I was able to help him.” He added that he was also able to provide an oral cancer screening during the visit.

He said another volunteer who is an oral surgeon saw a patient who needed an extraction and had been swollen and in pain for some time, but had not been able to receive care because of affordability and access problems.

“He was so thankful he could finally have this done,” Lakireddy said. “It makes a world of difference.”

Aspen Dental offices across the U.S. also will be holding a day of free care for veterans on June 27. So far, 325 offices across 31 states have volunteered to participate, including 29 offices in Ohio.

Lakireddy said in addition to providing care to people in need, one of the best parts of the Healthy Mouth Movement is how many people are willing to volunteer their time to help.

Aspen Dental launched the Healthy Mouth Movement in 2014 to deliver free dental care and oral health education to people in need. Since it began, 3,057 Aspen Dental dentists and teams have volunteered their time to treat 3,088 patients with a treatment value of $1,141,479 in donated care.

Last year, the MouthMobile made one stop in Ohio at Catholic Charities – Cosgrove Center, a homeless shelter in Cleveland. During the first year of the Healthy Mouth Movement, Aspen Dental partnered with several organizations to treat patients in need, and found a particular need for dental care among veterans. Because of this, Aspen Dental partnered with Got Your 6, a campaign that works to strengthen communities and empower veterans nationwide, and local veterans organizations to provide free dental care to veterans in need this year.

“For millions of Americans, life is made up of hard financial choices, and unfortunately, dental care has become discretionary, a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘must do,’” said Dr. Schatzie Vincent, director of clinical support and community giving at Aspen Dental Management, Inc., in a news release. “The dentists and teams at Aspen Dental believe that everyone deserves a healthy mouth, and are committed to breaking down barriers that have kept people from getting the dental care they need.”