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Free Dental Work For Veterans In 2024

Written by: Jody Adams
Last updated: January 31, 2024

As people grow older, their oral health starts to deteriorate. Individuals, as well as healthcare agencies, depend heavily on dental care due to millions of Americans losing teeth, suffering from tooth decay, or suffering from gum disease. 

Keeping your mouth, teeth, and gums healthy requires good dental hygiene. In addition to improving your quality of life and appearance, it will also improve your health.

Bacteria can accumulate in the mouth and cause cavities, gum disease, and tooth decay without proper oral hygiene. Heart attacks, strokes, and other serious cardiovascular events are two to three times more likely in people with gum disease. Oral health is also associated with cancer.

The oral health of two out of five veterans is poor or fair, representing 8 million veterans. Many challenges veterans face when accessing dental care - only 15% of veterans are eligible for dental care provided by the VA. 

According to a CareQuest Institute report from 2020:

  • Dental problems and bone loss are more prevalent in veterans (42%) than in non-veterans (27%). 
  • The proportion of veterans reporting dental decay was 56%, compared to 37% for non-veterans.
  • Most veterans (56%) paid for their dental care out of pocket in the past year.
  • The number of veterans who have not seen a dentist since 2015 was 16%, compared to 12% among the general population.

In the following sections, we will share a few programs that provide free dental for veterans in 2024. If you cannot afford dental insurance, read our article on cheap dental care options for adults without insurance.

What Is The VA Dental Insurance Program (VADIP)?

A discount on private dental insurance is available to military members eligible for the Veterans Affairs Dental Insurance Program (VADIP). Veterans and their eligible family members who are beneficiaries of CHAMPVA and the VA's Civilian Health and Medical Program (VADIP) can protect their smiles through the VADIP dental benefit program. 

Dental insurance is unavailable to many veterans, so VADIP was developed to help them.

VADIP Eligibility Criteria

If you qualify for these requirements, you may be eligible for VADIP. It is necessary for one of the following to be true:

  • As a veteran, you are eligible for health benefits from the VA
  • When you're enrolled in the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Veterans Administration (CHAMPVA), you are the spouse, child, or dependent child of a veteran or military service member.

It is important to note that insurance carriers may offer different coverage options for dependents not covered by CHAMPVA.

Enrolling For A VADIP Plan

Enrollees are eligible if they are VA healthcare patients or members of the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the VA (CHAMPVA). Dependents of CHAMPVA beneficiaries are not covered. 

The Veterans Affairs website or 877-222-VETS (8387) can be reached for information on VA health care enrollment or VADIP eligibility. It is easy and quick to enroll. To keep your VA record accurate, you must match your name exactly.

VA healthcare providers provide free dental care to all veterans enrolled in the program. Those who qualify can receive some dental care for free, although not all treatment options. You can purchase a dental plan through VADIP at a reduced rate if you're not entitled to free VA dental care.

You can purchase VADIP if you are interested in dental insurance and free VA care. Free VA dental care will not be affected by signing up for VADIP. It's easy to enroll with Delta Dental or MetLife VADIP online once you've chosen your plan. Managing your coverage and benefits online is possible after you enroll with your insurance provider.

Can Spouses Be Included In The VADIP Plan?

Family caregivers, spouses, dependent children, or dependents of Veterans or active duty service members may qualify for health insurance benefits. If your veteran's service has resulted in a disability, you may also be eligible for health care benefits. 

You must be a beneficiary of CHAMPVA for dependents to be eligible for VADIP. Dependents who are not beneficiaries of CHAMPVA may have different insurance coverage options.

For low-income students needing dental care, read our blog post on whether students get free dental care.

Free Dental Care Program For Veterans

Veterans can also get free dental care through other programs besides VADIP. Free dental treatment is provided for veterans by the following programs.

  • Adopt a Vet Dental Program: Under this program, a team of dentists is on hand to treat any dental emergency or critical situation. The Adopt, a Vet Program, is based in Northern Nevada. 
  • Everyone for Veterans: Veterans and their spouses in need of dental care are eligible for free dental care and support through this program. The veterans must experience financial hardship and have been honorably discharged after a minimum of one duty tour. 
  • Veterans Smile Day: Throughout our country, veterans lack dental care due to a lack of awareness. The nonprofit organization serves those who have served by recruiting dental professionals to fill the gap. 
  • Aspen Dental Day of Service: Veterans receive free dental care at hundreds of Aspen Dental practices nationwide each year. Over 22,000 veterans have received dentistry from Aspen Dental since the Healthy Mouth Movement was launched in 2014.

The PACT Act And VA Benefits

Veteran healthcare benefits are expanded under the PACT Act for veterans exposed to toxic materials during their duty. Various diseases can be caused by toxic exposure, including respiratory issues and cancer. 

In August 2022, President Biden signed into law the PACT Act. This legislation expanded VA healthcare to the greatest extent in three decades. With the PACT Act, veterans can easily qualify for financial aid and free healthcare after exposure to burn pits or other toxins.

As a result of the PACT Act, the following new benefits are available. 

  • Expansion of VA healthcare: The PACT Act will allow more veterans to receive free healthcare. Those exposed to toxic substances and veterans from the Gulf War, Vietnam War, and the post-9/11 eras will be eligible.
  • Covers more presumptive conditions: Veterans with diagnosed conditions typically had to provide paperwork and exams to prove service connections. The PACT Act presumptively assumes these illnesses that your military service was the reason for the toxic exposure.
  • Mandatory screening for exposure to toxic materials: A VA toxic exposure screening must be conducted for every veteran enrolled in VA health care under the PACT Act. As a result of these screenings, the VA will be able to determine the extent of health concerns resulting from toxic exposure.
  • Incorporates research on toxic exposure: PACT requires The VA is required by the Pact Act to research the impacts of toxic exposure. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Veterans often struggle to find free dental work options during their lifetime. We often get asked the following questions about free dental care for veterans.

Will VA pay for full dental implants?

Veterans who qualify for any dental care offered by the VA can receive dental implants free of charge. You are eligible for an implant if a VA dentist determines it is necessary after discharge (within your 180-day window). This facility, however, does not extend to the maintenance of dental implants. 

Will the VA fix teeth?

Dental care provided by the VA aims to improve masticatory function and maintain oral health. An example would be cosmetic dental procedures that fix broken or damaged teeth or repair a cracked or chipped tooth.

How much are denture implants in VA?

It costs between $4,000 and $5,000 to place a single dental implant and a crown to cover it. If bone grafting is required first, the cost will increase by another $1000.

At what age does VA disability stop?

As long as you have a service-connected injury or illness that is eligible for VA disability benefits, you can receive them. VA beneficiaries are entitled to lifetime benefits, and their ratings are protected from re-evaluation or reduction if their condition is deemed permanent and total. 

The VA cannot reduce your disability rating below your lowest rating over the last 20 years if you have had the same disability rating for 20 years.

Will Medicare pay for dental implants if medically necessary?

Medicare does not cover cleanings, fillings, dentures, or teeth extractions as dental care. Dental implants are also included in this category.

Finding free dental for veterans in 2024 might not be as daunting as it seems. With the advent of the PACT Act and other related legislation, veterans now have greater access to free healthcare and discounted health insurance options. In addition to the VA's discounted insurance program (VADIP), various free dental care programs are available for veterans.

Visit the Gov-Relations blog for more information about government and private assistance programs. If you need dental implants, read our blog post on how to get affordable dental implants and their cost breakdown.

As you explore the avenues for free dental work for veterans in 2024, have you considered the additional provisions for families of disabled veterans? Learn about the disabled veteran dental benefits for family in our specialized blog post and ensure complete dental support for every member.

Jody Adams
Jody Adams is an accomplished editor-in-chief with a deep understanding of social care and government benefits issues. With a background in journalism and a master's degree in Public Policy, Jody has spent her career shaping the narrative around social policies and their impact on society. She has worked with renowned publications, effectively bridging the gap between complex policy analysis and public understanding. Jody's editorial expertise ensures that vital information on social care and government benefits reaches a broad audience, empowering individuals to make informed decisions.
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