In a growing effort to provide oral health care to those who served the United States in the military, more dentists are celebrating Veterans Day by volunteering care to former servicemen and women in need.
The annual Veterans’ Smile Day this year saw more than 300 dentists from nearly all the 50 states, providing more than $300,000 in free dental services to an estimated 2,000 veterans. That alone, might not be the case with some people, as they can get into problematic situations after getting back from the service.
A worrisome trend
With often extreme conditions experienced over a long period of time, veterans can have some unique oral health risks. So, in honor of Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, we wanted to cover the top three oral health concerns for veterans.
When you’re anxious or depressed, your body produces more of the hormone cortisol. This compound harms your teeth and gums, contributing to the risk for periodontal (gum) disease. There’s also evidence that stress and depression impair your immune system, making chronic infection throughout your body—including in your mouth—more likely.
Poor oral hygiene and nutrition while engaged in active duty combined with limited access to water, fresh fruits and vegetables and rest may have wreaked havoc on your teeth and gums. If you use tobacco, try and quit – the sooner the better. For lack of brushing and flossing, see your dentist as soon as you can. Start today with brushing twice a day for two minutes, flossing once a day. With efforts now, you can get your oral health back on track quickly.
Trench mouth is a painful form of gingivitis. The term “trench mouth” comes from World War I, when the disorder was common among soldiers. This disorder is rare, but when it does occur, trench mouth most often affects persons ages 15 – 35. If you are experiencing pain in your mouth of any kind, consult your dentist as quickly as possible.
Have no fear, there are alternatives
Seeing that this move from the VA is not such a good one, especially for those in need of treatment, you have individuals stepping up to help the veterans, as well as some larger dental care organizations.
Neither the veterans, nor their teeth should be neglected, so leave your worries behind, as there are people who will help you in your time of need. It is true, however, that you can help yourself, on a daily basis, with only a toothbrush and toothpaste.