MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Local veterans got some much-needed dental care during Aspen Dental's Day of Service, which 450 offices across the country participated in.
"A lot of them, they've just had a lot of time that's gone by without getting the care they need, so it's broken-down teeth that need to get extracted to get the disease out of their mouth, so they can get healthy," said Dr. Jerrel Mills, a dentist at Aspen Dental in Myrtle Beach.
The Myrtle Beach office treated 25 veterans Saturday, performing a variety of services, such as cleanings, x-rays, extractions and dentures repairs for free.
"A lot of veterans who don't have health insurance who don't have a lot of good benefits, for them to come in and be able to get this type of service for free, it means a lot," said Keddrick Tucker, who served in the Air Force for three years. "So I appreciate it."
Tucker said it had been three years since he had last seen a dentist before he went to an Aspen Dental event in March.
Brian Petersen, who served in the Air Force for 26 years, said he first went to Aspen Dental's Day of Service last year. He hadn't been to a dentist in the nine years prior to that.
"We have benefits through the VA. No dental," Petersen said. "It's hard to pay for dental work."
"After 26 years of having served to be still fighting for benefits is not fair," Christine Pesce said. "It's not right. He's not alone unfortunately."
Robert Paul, who served in the Coast Guard for six years, had to get a tooth extracted Saturday. He also said he doesn't qualify for dental coverage through the VA.
"Later on, even if there's some way I have to pay for this or pay for that, I'll still come back here just because they started offering this," Paul said.
Dr. Mills said oral health is critical to overall health because gum disease correlates with heart disease.
"They've given so much to our country, our freedoms and liberties that you can't help but want to give back to them," he said.