There comes a time in all our lives where we have to reconcile being fair for our fellow man. What better way to look at our fellow man but through the eyes of a veteran. Our veterans number in excess of 22 million who are underserved with good oral health. A population that far exceeds our homeless. The Veterans Administration does provide dental care for veterans that are 100% disabled which is less than 20% of the overall population. While some veterans come home to employment and good oral health, hundreds of thousands are neglecting their overall oral health, due to extreme financial stress.
Many of the veterans that develop other illness, begin to see the impact that has on their oral health, which spirals to other diseases and conditions that are extremely serious.
Certain conditions also might affect oral health, including:
• Diabetes. Diabetes reduces the body's resistance to infection — putting the gums at risk. Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes. Research shows that people who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels, and that regular periodontal care can improve diabetes control.
• HIV/AIDS. Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS.
• Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis — which causes bones to become weak and brittle — might be linked with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Drugs used to treat osteoporosis carry a small risk of damage to the bones of the jaw.
• Alzheimer's disease. Worsening oral health is seen as Alzheimer's disease progresses.
Veterans who have recently served may be entitled to a one-time course of free dental care, but must apply for dental care within 180 days of discharge (under conditions other than dishonorable discharge) from a period of active duty of 90 days or more. Reach out to your local Veterans Administration if you or a family member is a US military veteran.