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Dental Health is About Much More Than a Smile


In the military, you knew the importance of maintaining your gear and making sure everything was in tip-top shape. As a veteran, you now have the responsibility to take care of something even more important: your health and the health of your family.

Part of this is maintaining your oral health. You probably understand the value of good oral hygiene: strong teeth, healthy gums and a winning smile. But what you might not realize is how strongly your oral health is tied to your overall health.

The mouth-body connection

The Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health in America put it simply: “You cannot be healthy without oral health. Oral health and general health should not be interpreted as separate entities.”

In fact, several chronic health conditions have been linked to poor oral health, including diabetes and heart disease. And while the evidence isn’t conclusive, studies also have linked dental conditions such as gum disease to pneumonia, stroke and even an increased risk of heart attack.

Access to care Is key

Obviously then, an important part of maintaining your overall health is visiting the dentist regularly for care. And to ensure this happens, it’s equally important to have access to affordable dental benefits. People with dental benefits visit the dentist more often, are more likely to take their children to the dentist and experience greater overall health than people without them, according to a National Association of Dental Plans (NADP) report.

To help, Delta Dental proudly offers dental benefits to veterans through the Veterans Affairs Dental Insurance Program (VADIP). Any veteran enrolled in Veterans Affairs (VA) health care is eligible, as is anyone enrolled in the VA’s Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA). VADIP offers three plans that include access to Delta Dental’s nationwide network of dentists and provide 100% coverage for in-network cleanings, exams and x-rays.

For more information about VADIP plans or to enroll, visit Delta Dental’s Veterans Affairs Dental Insurance Program website or call 855-460-3302.

Delta Dental also supports low-or no-cost options for veterans who need dental care. For instance, this year the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation gave a $50,000 grant to help provide care to 1,100 veterans. Organizations such as Dental Lifeline provide free dental services to veterans. And many federally qualified health centers offer dental services. Click here to find a center near you.

Healthy habits to save your smile

In the meantime, here are a few simple steps you can take to help ensure that your smile lasts for years to come.

  • Brush your teeth regularly. Brushing your teeth twice a day for a minimum of two minutes removes the plaque from your teeth and gums that can lead to cavities and gum disease.
  • Floss daily. Flossing removes plaque from between your teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach. This plaque can harden into tartar and collect along your gumline, which can lead to oral health issues.
  • Drink enough water. Water flushes away harmful sugars and acids. It also helps prevent dry mouth, which can lead to cavities and gum disease. The Mayo Clinic recommends about a half-gallon, or eight 8-ounce glasses, daily.
  • Replace your toothbrush regularly. An old or worn toothbrush is less effective at removing plaque than a new one. To ensure that your toothbrush always does a great job of cleaning your teeth, plan on replacing it every three months.

After spending years – or an entire career – defending and protecting our country, it's important now to protect your health and the health of your family. By following these tips and visiting a dentist for routine care, you can help ensure that you’ll be smiling for years to come.

Delta Dental’s Veterans Affairs Dental Insurance Program (VADIP) is administered by the Federal Government Programs division of Delta Dental of California through its subsidiary Delta Dental Insurance Company (DDIC).