Dental program for veterans resumes at UNE’s Oral Health Center

Outside photo of Oral Health Center

The University of New England’s Oral Health Center in Portland is one of several locations across the state participating in a program to provide free care to veterans through the Maine Veterans’ Dental Network (MVDN).

“It is a great way to help veterans in our community,” commented Albert Abena, D.D.S., assistant dean for Community Partnerships in the College of Dental Medicine. “There are so many barriers for them to get care, and finances are a big issue.”

The MVDN resumed its dental service program in 2022 for Maine veterans who otherwise cannot afford care, thanks to a generous $100,000 grant from Northeast Delta Dental.

“We are both honored and fortunate to be able to assist in this very worthy cause,” Tom Raffio, president and CEO of Northeast Delta Dental, said in a statement.

UNE will receive $16,500 to provide care for veterans who qualify. Services will be provided by College of Dental Medicine students who are overseen by faculty.

 “We are thankful for Northeast Delta Dental’s incredible support of the MVDN,” stated Nicole Kimmes, interim dean of UNE’s College of Dental Medicine. “The mission of our college is to improve the health of Northern New England. By participating in the veteran’s dental network, not only are we able to improve veteran’s access to dental care, we are able to provide an opportunity for our students to serve those who made sacrifices for our country.”

The Maine Bureau of Veteran’s Services (MBVS) has created a state-wide referral system that assists in connecting veterans to participating clinics. Any veteran who is not 100% service-connected to the Veteran’s Administration (VA), does not have dental insurance, and cannot afford to pay for dental care out of pocket can register for the program.

“My Administration is committed to doing all we can to serve and honor our servicemembers and this partnership is critical to their overall health and wellbeing,” Governor Janet Mills said in a statement released by her office. “This is another step forward in our commitment to serving and honoring Maine veterans.”

Services will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis until funding runs out.

“We are very hopeful, now that a foundation has been created for this program, it will continue to grow,” stated Sarah Sherman, director of strategic partnerships for MBVS.