Helping More Maine Veterans Access Dental Care

Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills, and thank you for listening.

You know, having good oral health is key to our ability to do so many important things, like just eating and drinking and talking. Anyone with persistent dental issues knows that that pain or discomfort can really impact your self-esteem, your ability to concentrate at work or at school, and your overall health and well-being.

Despite how important it is, many people still lack access to affordable dental care, including some of our veterans.

There are so many stories —

One Maine veteran was receiving dental care on base in Iraq when a rocket attack disrupted the procedure. He returned home shortly after that with his dental issue still not addressed, leaving him in pain.

Another Maine veteran was unable to chew food because of several broken teeth. As a result, that veteran was unable to eat normally, and they lost a significant amount of weight. 

Another Maine veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, was unable to visit a dentist for years because of anxiety being around people.

As someone who grew up in a military family, I want to make sure that those who served us in uniform have access to the health care they need and that they deserve.

That’s why, in 2021, my administration launched the Maine Veterans’ Dental Network, in partnership with Northeast Delta Dental, and participating dental clinics, and medical clinics around the state, to provide dental services to Maine veterans who otherwise cannot afford them. In 2023, the Maine Masonic Charitable Foundation also donated $35,000 to this program.

Thanks to all those organizations, the Maine Bureau of Veterans Services, and Sarah Sherman and April Breton in particular, last year the program served 503 veterans, many of whom were seeing a dentist or dental hygienist for the first time since they left military service.

I am so proud that, since it was created, the Veterans’ Dental Network has provided dental care for more than a thousand veterans — including those three I mentioned earlier.

That’s making a real difference in their lives. When one veteran learned that he qualified for the program, he said, “Do you mean to tell me that I’m going to be able to smile at my daughter’s wedding?”

Overwhelming demand for the program meant that funding ran out last year before another 156 veterans could get care. Well, now, thanks to a generous of $300,000 grant from Northeast Delta Dental, the Maine Veterans’ Dental Network will continue services for veterans in need.

The veterans who applied for the program last year but didn’t get it before funding ran out have already been referred for service. The rest of the new funding is available on a first come, first served basis for any Maine resident who is a veteran who lacks dental insurance, and can’t afford to pay for dental care out of pocket. Grants of $600 per veteran are available for care at 23 different locations from Portland to Patten.

Veterans may apply online by visiting: That’s One word.

If you don’t have access to the internet, or if you know a veteran who doesn’t have access to the internet and wants more information, please call (207) 287-6836. That’s (207) 287-6836 – during normal business hours.

My Administration is committed to ensuring that every person in Maine can access oral health services they need. If you are a veteran, please visit our website or call that number to see if you are eligible for services through the Veterans Dental Network. Call today.

I thank Northeast Delta Dental, the Maine Bureau of Veterans' Services, and the many participating clinics across the state who continue to make this nationally recognized program possible. And, I thank all Maine veterans for their service on behalf of our state and our nation.

This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.