HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — During this Veteran’s Day weekend, many businesses are already serving those who served our country. Flint River Dental offered free dental care to veterans on a first-come, first-serve basis.

For some, visiting a dentist can be scary but for others, its a blessing. On Saturday, the second annual Veterans Dental Day was held at Flint River Dental.

Dr. Meghan Darby, a dentist at Flint River Dental says there’s a lack of dental care for veterans. “It’s expensive to get dental treatment done, particularly if you don’t have dental insurance,” says Dr. Darby. “It can be upwards of several hundred dollars per tooth to have a tooth extracted. A lot of people don’t realize that.”

For one day, veterans in need may receive free exams, radiographs, cleanings, fillings, or extractions.

One veteran, Ida Grammer, says over the past few years, her teeth have slowly broken down.

“With all the medications I’ve been on for over the years, they’ve just destroyed them (teeth), and I don’t have insurance, I don’t have dental, and it’s very expensive and I just heard about this and I was so excited… I couldn’t wait to get my teeth fixed,” says Grammer.

In 2019, Veterans Affairs provided over 577,000 veterans with dental care, but Grammer says most veterans aren’t eligible for the care. To qualify, they have to be 100 percent disabled, have been a prisoner of war or have developed a dental condition during their service.

Dr. Andrew Henningar with Flint River Dental says the lack of care can affect more than someone’s mouth.

“One thing that’s lost on people was, your oral healthcare kind of effects your whole body,” says Dr. Henningar. “Keeping a clean mouth and keeping all the disease out of our mouth helps us be healthier in general.”

As a U.S. Air Force veteran, Dr. Darby says she knows the system is lacking. “I do know first-hand, there’s just not a lot for dental services for our veterans,” says Dr. Darby.

“Everybody knows veterans are not getting a good, fair shake on their healthcare and we need to let them know that there are people out there that will help them,” says Karen Page, the mother of Ida Grammer.

“My whole staff is so excited about this and I’m very excited to thank them as well in some little way that we can,” says Dr. Darby.

Several other businesses across the Tennessee Valley are giving back for the Veterans Day holiday. You can find the link here.