Thousands of veterans each year wonder, “Does the VA cover dental?” That’s because dental coverage is a valuable benefit for veterans and their families, and it’s important to know what’s covered under the VA healthcare system.
There are nine ways veterans like you can qualify for the VA’s dental program. Even if you don’t qualify under one of these criteria, you may still be eligible for excellent private dental insurance available through the VA at a reduced cost.
This article explains dental benefits for veterans, including who is eligible for dental coverage under the VA, what procedures are covered, and how to get dental care through the VA. We also discuss alternative options if you don’t qualify.
- VA Dental Care Eligibility
- What dental procedures does the VA cover?
- How to Apply for VA Dental Care Benefits
- What if I don’t qualify for dental care at the VA?
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VA Dental Care Eligibility
1. You Have a 100% Service-Connected Rating
You qualify for VA dental care with a 100% service-connected VA rating. You also qualify if you’re unemployable due to your service-connected conditions and are paid at the 100% rate. This is also called Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU).
Veterans with a 100% VA or TDIU rating are eligible for all dental care through the VA free of cost. Temporary ratings of 100% are excluded (for example, if you are temporarily hospitalized).
2. You Have a Service-Connected VA Rating of 10% or Higher for a Dental Condition
If you have a 10% VA rating (or higher) for a dental condition, you can receive all dental care through the VA free of cost.
3. You’re a Former Prisoner of War
If you’re a former POW, you’re eligible to receive all dental care through the VA free of cost.
4. You Request Dental Care Within 180 Days of Military Discharge
If your DD-214 doesn’t show that you received an exam and treatment before you were discharged, you’re eligible for one-time VA dental care. You must apply within 180 days of discharge.
5. You Have a Combat-Related Service-Connected Dental Condition Rated at 0%
If you’re rated at 0% for a dental-related service-connected condition, the VA will provide (free of cost) any dental care necessary for you to keep your teeth functioning.
Note that your condition must result from combat or service trauma to qualify.
6. You Have a Dental Condition that is Aggravating a Service-Connected Condition
If a VA dentist determines you have a dental condition negatively impacting a service-connected condition, you’re eligible for no-cost VA dental care to treat that specific dental condition.
7. You’re Enrolled in the Veterans Readiness and Employment (VR&E) Program, and Your Dental Condition Prevents your Rehabilitation or Employment
Otherwise known as Chapter 31 benefits, the VR&E program is an excellent resource for disabled veterans with a service-connected disability. The program provides job counseling, job search assistance, and on-the-job training to help veterans find employment.
If you need dental care to enter a rehabilitation program, achieve the goals of a program, or secure employment, you may be eligible for VA dental care.
8. You’re Receiving VA Care and Require Dental Care for a Dental Condition Complicating a Different Medical Condition the VA is Treating
If the VA is treating another condition and your dental status is impacting that condition, the VA will treat any oral condition free of cost only to remove the complication. This is true even if you aren’t receiving care for a service-connected condition.
9. You’re Enrolled in a VA-Sponsored Program Supporting Homeless Veterans
If you’re homeless and enrolled in a qualifying program for at least 60 days, you’re eligible for a no-cost one-time course of VA dental care.
The care must be medically necessary to relieve pain, assist you in finding and maintaining employment, or treat moderate, severe, or complicated and severe gingival and periodontal conditions.
Does the VA cover dental for spouses?
Currently, the VA does not cover dental procedures for spouses. However, the VA has partnered with private insurance companies to reduce the cost of insurance for eligible family members. Read more in our section on “What if I don’t qualify for dental care at the VA?”
What dental procedures does the VA cover?
If you qualify for VA dental care, you’re eligible for these VA dental services, as needed:
- Regularly scheduled cleaning and x-rays
- Restorative procedures such as fillings, crowns, and bridges
- Comfortable, well-fitting dentures
- Oral surgery, such as tooth extractions
- Dental implants
- Access to oral and facial reconstruction surgery resulting from trauma or serious illness
Does the VA cover dental implants?
The VA covers dental implants for veterans and offers no-cost implants for veterans who qualify for any dental care needed under the categories listed above.
If you’ve been discharged (and are within your 180-day window) and a VA dentist determines you need an implant, you’re eligible to receive the implant, but not eligible for ongoing maintenance for the implant.
How to Apply for VA Dental Care Benefits
You can apply for VA dental care benefits by filling out the VA health care application. There’s no special process to apply for dental care other than enrolling in VA health care and ensuring you meet one of the nine criteria listed above.
The VA maintains over 200 dental clinics across the nation. You can find one near you by visiting this page and entering your zip code, choosing “VA health” as the facility type and “Dental services” as the service type.
What if I don’t qualify for dental care at the VA?
You have several options if you don’t qualify for VA dental care. Your dependents may qualify for CHAMPVA. Otherwise, you might find the VA Dental Insurance Program to be an excellent option.
Does CHAMPVA cover dental?
The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) is a comprehensive healthcare program. The VA shares the cost of covered healthcare services and supplies with eligible beneficiaries.
It’s important to note that while CHAMPVA generally has good health coverage, dental coverage is minimal. In most circumstances, CHAMPVA does not cover dental procedures.
Unfortunately, CHAMPVA dental coverage is usually limited to treating conditions that impact another non-dental medical condition. Routine care, dentures, and braces are not covered.
If you qualify for one of the dental procedures covered, CHAMPVA currently has an outpatient deductible cost of $50 per calendar year. CHAMPVA will cover 25% of the allowed amount for your care up to the catastrophic cap, which is $3,000 per calendar year.
CHAMPVA provides coverage to the spouse or widow AND the children for veterans if you meet one of these criteria:
- You’re rated 100% Permanently and Totally (P&T) disabled due to a service-connected disability
- The veteran was rated permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected condition when they passed away
- The veteran died of a service-connected disability
- The veteran died on active duty, and the dependents are not otherwise eligible for TRICARE benefits
Effective October 1, 2001, CHAMPVA benefits were extended to those age 65 and older.
To be eligible for CHAMPVA, you must also meet the following conditions:
- If the beneficiary was 65 or older before June 5, 2001, and was otherwise eligible for CHAMPVA, and was entitled to Medicare Part A coverage, then the beneficiary will be eligible for CHAMPVA without having to have Medicare Part B coverage
- If the beneficiary turned 65 before June 5, 2001, and has Medicare Parts A and B, the beneficiary must keep both Medicare Parts A & B to be eligible for CHAMPVA
- If the beneficiary turned age 65 on or after June 5, 2001, the beneficiary must be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B to be eligible for CHAMPVA
If you’re looking for additional dental coverage, we recommend utilizing an alternative insurance program like VADIP.
VA Dental Insurance Program (VADIP)
If you don’t have VA dental eligibility, you and your family may still qualify for discounted private insurance through the VA Dental Insurance Program (VADIP). VADIP plans cover most common dental procedures.
You must be enrolled in VA health care to qualify or be the spouse, widow, or child of a veteran enrolled in CHAMPVA.
To be eligible for VA health care benefits, you must have served 24 continuous months or the entire period you were called to active duty (if you enlisted after September 7, 1980, or entered active duty after October 16, 1981). You can learn more about VA healthcare eligibility and how to enroll in our post on My VA Health.
How to apply for VADIP
The VA Dental Insurance Program offers discounted plans through Delta Dental coverage and MetLife coverage. You’ll still be required to pay insurance premiums and copays, but these are less than most dental insurance plans.
You can learn more about the VA Dental Insurance Program’s enrollment process on the VADIP website.
The VA understands that dental care is important to one’s overall health. They offer various dental coverage options for eligible veterans and their families.
Whether you qualify for VA dental care benefits or take advantage of VADIP discounted private insurance plans, it’s crucial to seek the necessary dental care to ensure your long-term health.
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Trisha Penrod is a former active-duty Air Force officer. As an Intelligence Officer, she led teams of analysts to apply advanced analytic skills to identify, assess, and report potential threats to U.S. forces.
Trisha attended the U.S. Air Force Academy and holds an MBA from Webster University. After receiving an honorable discharge in 2018, Trisha worked as a growth marketer and utilizes her analytic skills to help others accomplish their business goals.