The Department of Veterans Affairs offers high-quality dental care from passionate and knowledge dentists who understand the unique concerns and challenges that veterans face. The VA has modern clinics, along with highly trained VA dentists who are often current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces who bring understanding and experience to the current and past veterans that they are treating.
Some common questions that military members and veterans ask are related to healthcare coverage. Basic healthcare answers are often easier to find, but questions regarding dental insurance and coverage can be a little more difficult to find answers to. Does the Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA, for short) cover dental?
The answer is yes, but under very specific circumstances and only if dental facilities are available at the local VA. Over 580,000 veterans were provided dental care in 2022 by the VA. Receiving dental coverage by the VA requires veterans to meet certain criteria. Some of this has to do with military service history and current health and living situations. Based on the answers to these questions, the VA then places the veteran into a certain benefits category or class which will then dictate what kind of coverage they can receive.
Let’s break it down more.
Who is eligible for VA dental coverage?
VA coverage for dental is different than most other VA medical benefits as it is broken up into classes. If you are part of four classes, Class I, IIA, IIC, or IV, the Department of Veterans Affairs covers any necessary dental care needed to maintain or improve oral health and function. If you fall under any of the other classes, there are service and time limitations to what kind of dental coverage you are eligible for.
Let’s take a look at the full eligibility classes for VA dental coverage, according to the VA. As well as what kind of coverage each class can receive.
- Class I: “Have a service-connected compensable (10% or greater) dental disability or condition.” Services offered for Class I is any needed dental care.
- Class IIA: “Have a service-connected noncompensable (0%) dental condition/disability resulting from combat wounds or service trauma.” Services offered for Class IIA is any dental care necessary to provide and maintain functional oral health and teeth. A VA Regional Office Rating Letter is required.
- Class IIC: Former prisoner of war. Services offered for Class IIC is any needed dental care.
- Class IV: “Have service-connected disabilities rated at 100% (total) disabling, or are unemployable and paid at the 100% rate due to service-connected conditions.” Services offered for Class IV is any needed dental care, with the exception of temporary ratings.
Other classes with limited coverage:
- Class II: “Request dental care within 180 days of discharge or release (other than dishonorable) from a period of active duty of 90 days or more.” Services offered for Class II are one-time dental care if DD214 certificate of discharge doesn’t indicate that a full oral examination and any treatment needed were rendered before discharge.
- Class III: “Have a dental condition clinically determined by VA to be associated and aggravating a service-connected medical condition.” Services offered for Class III are dental care that are necessary to treat any oral conditions that have a direct and detrimental effect on a service-connected medical condition.
- Class V: “Are actively engaged in a Title 38, USC Chapter 31 Vocational and Rehabilitation Employment Program.” Services offered for Class V are dental care services needed to the extent necessary determined by a VA professional.
- Class VI: “Are receiving VA care or are scheduled for inpatient care and require dental care for a condition complicating a medical condition currently under treatment.” Services offered for Class VI are dental care services that treat oral conditions that are complicating a medical condition that is currently under treatment.
- Class IIB: “Are enrolled in a qualifying VA sponsored homeless residential rehabilitation program for at least 60 days.” Services offered for Class IIB are a one-time course of dental care that is determined to relieve pain, aid in gaining employment or to treat moderate to severe periodontal and gingival conditions.
If I’m in the National Guard and local to a VA, can I receive dental care there?
To be eligible for VA benefits as a National Guard veteran, you have to have been called on for active duty. Anyone who has served active duty may be eligible for some Department of Veterans Affairs benefits.
If you are in the National Guard and need dental care, can you receive free dental care at your local VA? It looks like only eligible veterans, as described above, can receive dental care at a local VA. If you fall under one of those categories, yes, you can receive dental care at your local VA. If not, you will most likely need a different type of dental coverage for the military, as well as a different dental care provider. Most insurance veterans use Delta Dental or Metlife, which offer in-patient networks just like you’d find with traditional dental insurance through an employer.
If you are a Veteran who was recently active duty, you may be eligible for a one-time course of free dental care. You must apply for dental care within 180 days of being discharged from an active duty term of at least 90 days (the exception is dishonorable discharge). Your DD214 must also show that you did not receive full dental examinations and care prior to your separation. It’s important to note that if you faced any kind of “dental trauma” while serving on active duty, you may be eligible for free life-long dental care associated with the trauma and receive a service-connected disability.
Are Dependents of Eligible Veterans eligible for VA Dental Coverage?
Veterans and their beneficiaries who are enrolled in the VA healthcare program as well as the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the VA (CHAMPVA) are eligible to enroll in the VA Dental Insurance Program (VADIP). This is a civilian dental insurance program that is discussed here. Dependents are not eligible to receive free dental coverage through the VA. The VADIP is offered at a reduced cost to veterans and their family members.
Dental Care Coverage for the Homeless
Homeless Veterans Dental Program is a program that was established by the VA in 1992. The program was created in response to homeless veterans consistently ranking dental care as one of their top 3 highest needs, next to long-term permanent housing and childcare. Homeless veterans may struggle to find jobs due to missing teeth or tooth pain, which are a barrier to receiving employment. The Homeless Veterans Dental Program works to facilitate access to dental care for homeless veterans in the hopes of improving their overall quality of life. A healthy mouth can lead to higher self-esteem and a greater ability to attain work which ultimately leads to an overall better quality of life.
If you are a veteran experiencing homelessness or know of someone who is, you can contact your nearest VA homeless coordinator. You can call the number below for assistance in reaching the right person.
Oral healthcare is an important part of staying healthy. The VA only covers eligible veterans, but you can still enroll in the VA Dental Insurance Program at a reduced cost if you aren’t eligible to receive free care. To find out more about your unique situation and whether you are eligible for VA dental coverage, contact the Department of Veterans Affairs at 1-877-222-8387 or you can find more information for dental and healthcare coverage at www.va.gov/health-care/.