VETSmile Need and Impact

State of Veteran Dental Care ​ References »

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9.2 Million Veterans are enrolled in VA health care.

85% percent icon

7.8 Million VHA-enrolled Veterans are without VA dental benefits and are able to participate in VETSmile.

42 percent icon

42% of Veterans reported having had gum treatment or bone loss around their teeth.

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In 2020, 24,318 Veterans visited VA Emergency Department for non-traumatic dental conditions.

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2 in 5 Veterans described their oral health as fair or poor.

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Bottom Line: Veterans will benefit from new pathways that improve access to comprehensive and preventive dental care.


1200 +

Unique Veterans Served



VETSmile Visits


6000 +

Procedures Administered

Cumulative data beginning with the pilot launch in July 2021.

VETSmile Experience

Leonard Ray, U.S. Military Veteran & NYU VETSmile Patient

“Having a healthy mouth means everything. Not just one thing, everything. That healthy smile, healthy breathing, it’s everything. You can tell a person by the mouth… My dentists here at NYU said they're going to be doing a lot of restoring of my teeth. I know it's going to be perfect. It's going to be great!”
Veteran Leonard Ray struggled to find dental care. He is a cancer survivor who had to undergo intense radiation and chemotherapy at his local VA. While the treatments eradicated his cancer, they also deteriorated the enamel on his teeth and left his mouth in bad shape.
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Chrystalla Orthodoxou, DDS, group practice director at NYU College of Dentistry.

“Community-based providers, as well as all dental providers, have a commitment to ensure the oral health and well-being of the patients we serve, especially those who have protected our nation. As the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran, it is both an honor and a privilege to help improve the lives of those who have served and protected our country.”
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Tony Petrozza, U.S. Army Veteran & NYU VETSmile Patient

“I got recommended here quickly and in no time at all, I was in the chair getting worked on and there was progress every time I came. I've been negligent for years. All these dental issues that I had are getting resolved. So I've been really impressed with the rapidity and the quality of the care that I'm receiving. I'm delighted and thrilled with it.”


Allareddy V, Rampa S, Lee MK, et al. Hospital-based emergency department visits involving dental conditions: profile and predictors of poor outcomes and resource utilization. Journal of the American Dental Association. 2014;145(4):331-337. doi:10.14219/jada.2014.7.

Okunseri C. There are more than 1.3 million emergency department visits and charges of $1 billion annually due to nontraumatic dental conditions in the United States. Journal of Evidence-Based Dental Practice, 15(1), 33–34.

Kim, P. C., Zhou, W., McCoy, S. J., McDonough, I. K., Burston, B., Ditmyer, M., & Shen, J. J. (2019). Factors Associated with Preventable Emergency Department Visits for Nontraumatic Dental Conditions in the U.S. International journal of environmental research and public​ health, 16(19), 3671.​

Zhou W, Kim P, Shen JJ, et al. Preventable emergency department visits for nontraumatic dental conditions: trends and disparities in Nevada, 2009-2015. American Journal of Public Health. 2018;108(3):369-371.​

​ ​ The American Institute of Dental Public Health and CareQuest Institute for Oral Health. Veteran Oral Health: Expanding Access and Equity. Boston, MA: December 2021. DOI: 10.35565/CQI.2021.2041 Copyright ©2021 The American Institute of Dental Public Health and CareQuest Institute for Oral Health, Inc.

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