Barriers like cost, lack of insurance and access to dentists nearby kept more than 155 million American adults from visiting a dentist in the past year, and among those in need are our nation's veterans. Recognizing the importance of oral health for our nation's veterans, and to combat the barriers to care, Aspen Dental practices are continuing their commitment to veterans in need by kicking off the third annual Healthy Mouth Movement in conjunction with Got Your 6 and Healthy Mouth Movement ambassador and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Danica Patrick.
"In our first year of the Healthy Mouth Movement in 2014, we noticed a need among veterans for dental services, and since then we have strengthened our commitment to serving this community who so selflessly served our country," said Dr. Schatzie Vincent, director of clinical support and community giving at Aspen Dental Management, Inc.
The Healthy Mouth Movement kicks off today with the launch of the "Smile 4 Vets" social media campaign and continues throughout the year on a 30-city tour with the MouthMobile – a 42-ft dental office on wheels that provides free dental care to veterans across the country – and during a day of service this summer. This community-giving initiative has helped more than 4,000 veterans across the country receive $2.8 million dollars in free dental care in 2015 alone. The MouthMobile makes its first stop on Thursday, February 25 at Centennial Park in Atlanta.
Smiling For Our Vets
As part of this year's Healthy Mouth Movement, Aspen Dental added a new element – the "Smile 4 Vets" social media campaign that kicks off today and directly benefits Got Your 6, a campaign that empowers veterans to help strengthen communities nationwide, and the veterans they serve.
- Beginning today, people can share their smiles with hashtags #Smile4Vets and #Sweepstakes on Twitter, Instagram or at Smile4Vets.com as a salute to veterans nationwide.
- For every smile shared, Aspen Dental will donate $1 to Got Your 6.
- Aspen Dental will display the photos shared on Smile4Vets.com and on a digital billboard in The Fan Zone at the Atlanta Motor Speedway February 26-28.
- As a thank you for supporting our veterans, everyone who shares their smile will be entered for a chance to win free dental care for a special veteran in their life, plus a trip to the Michigan race in August 2016, including an opportunity to meet Healthy Mouth Movement ambassador and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Danica Patrick.
"I've been involved with the Healthy Mouth Movement from the very beginning, and to see the impact it makes on the lives of our veterans year after year is incredible," said Patrick. "It's really great to see how regaining a healthy smile can truly transform veterans' lives. I'm glad to be a part of this initiative for another year and look forward to seeing many more new smiles as I join Aspen Dental in its commitment to giving back to our veterans."
Partnering to Protect Veteran Oral Health
In addition to offering free dental care, Aspen Dental is also supporting veterans through its continued partnership with Got Your 6. Got Your 6 – meaning "I've got your back" – is a collective impact campaign that works to bridge the military-civilian divide.
Of the more than 21 million veterans across the U.S. today, fewer than 10 million are enrolled for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health benefits, and more than 1.2 million lack health insurance altogether. The disparity is even more pronounced when it comes to dental care since veterans do not receive dental benefits through the VA unless they are classified as 100% disabled, have a service-connected dental condition, or have a service-oriented medical condition that is affected by their mouth.
"Through powerful initiatives like the Healthy Mouth Movement and its 'Smile 4 Vets' campaign, veterans are empowered to strengthen their communities across the nations as leaders, team builders and problem solvers," said Bill Rausch, Executive Director of Got Your 6.