The Peninsula Center of Cosmetic Dentistry hosted its sixth annual “Smiles for Troops” event in honor of Veterans Day. Across its three locations – one in Los Altos and two in Mountain View – staff provided free dental services to 35 veterans Nov. 12.
Dentists and hygienists not only offered cleanings, fillings, crowns and root canals to the vets, but also focused on prevention of major problems related to oral health – and helped veterans regain their “confidence with a smile,” said office manager Janna York.
PCCD staff prioritized the most pressing cases, bringing in vets early for X-rays and exams. Each patient received a dental goodie bag, featuring products from Colgate and Listerine.
PCCD launched the event in 2012 to give back to the troops, according to York.
“We found that a lot of troops don’t see dentists now that they are back,” she said. “They are our best patients. It is so nice to be able to treat them.”
This year the staff at PCCD teamed up with Dr. Mark Beckstead of Mid-Peninsula periodontics, Dr. Jennifer Lehnhardt and Dr. John Van of Dental Arts of Mountain View and endodontist Dr. Kingstone Shih.
Their team of approximately 30 assisted more veterans in the community than in previous years. They helped vets who have served in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.
“They’re thanking us, but we’re thanking them,” York said.
Retired Marine Dan Brenner, 37, who served two years in Iraq, said he has attended “Smiles for Troops” since the start. Over the years, he has had a root canal, a crown and replacement of filling decay.
Brenner mentioned he hasn’t had a job that has provided insurance.
“I am so thankful they have been able to take care of everything,” said Brenner, who is among the estimated 1.3 million vets (8.6 percent) who are uninsured, according to the Public Health Report. “Because I don’t know the next time I can get to the dentist.”
Brenner, now a student at San Jose State University studying marketing, added that he feels “valued.”
“These clinics are really trying to help people,” he added.
U.S. Veterans Affairs is authorized to provide dental care; however, coverage is based on disabilities or being a former prisoner of war. General cases are limited in treatment and are sometimes granted on a one-time basis, according to the VA.
For more information, visit pccd.net/smiles-for-troops.