DLN Success Story — Veteran Helps Veteran in MO

Scott, 58, served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a sniper in Beirut, Lebanon. During his service, he received several injuries to his legs and jaw. A bayonet wound to his jaw left him with a metal plate on his mandible and dental issues that still cause him pain. Scott also has screws in one ankle and a metal rod in the other leg, and he says the colder days are painful for him because of it.

In the past decade, Scott underwent chemotherapy and radiation to treat prostate cancer. He’s since recovered, and now only takes medication for hypertension, headaches, and leg pain. Like many veterans, Scott did not get all the support he needed after his time in the military. For years, he had a difficult time coping with the aftermath of war. Scott also could not secure dental care from Veterans Affairs to address his dental problems.

 

After being denied by the VA because his issues were not entirely combat-related, Scott and his caregiver, Judy, contacted Donated Dental Services (DDS) for help. Thankfully, volunteer Dr. Brandon Bennett, a fellow veteran from the Air National Guard and former dentist for the Air Force, agreed to give Scott the treatment he needed. The DDS coordinator who worked on this case, Teena, organized the treatment that Scott needed. “I had Dr. Bennett in mind for Scott because I believe that nobody understands a veteran as well as another veteran, and because the veteran community is the best ally a veteran can have,” she said.

Of course, Dr. Bennett was glad to help do what he could to improve Scott’s smile and well being. “On the dental side, [veterans] don’t have any access. A lot of veterans struggle to be employed. Finding a way for me to give back and provide the care to someone who doesn’t get it is a great feeling,” said Dr. Bennett. “The best thing about it is that both of us being veterans, we can relate on that level,” he continued.

Dr. Bennett completed a comprehensive exam on Scott in order to create a treatment plan. The enamel on Scott’s teeth was severely worn down and there was decay along the gum line of all Scott’s remaining teeth. Some areas of his mouth had also become infected, and his teeth were sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. Dr. Bennett suggested restorations, a root canal, a dental crown, implants, and a partial lower denture.

 

To complete all these procedures, two more volunteers stepped in: oral surgeon Dr. Eric R. Bessey completed the dental implants, while Edmonds Dental Prosthetics donated all the fabrications.

Scott’s treatment plan was completed over the course of several months, but it was not long before the change in his life became noticeable. “I had a friend tell me that Scott looks like he has gotten 20 years younger. I can’t help but think [DDS] has made him not only look, but feel, and have the confidence to make him look better as well,” Judy said. Scott is now also able to eat much more comfortably, and his dental health overall has vastly improved.

“I truly appreciate all the excellent work that Dr. Bennett and his staff have done for me. I’m forever grateful to you all!” – Scott

“Finding a way for me to give back is a great feeling. It brings us back to the days of commonality of the military. Any veteran that comes into my office I have that instant connection. This program allows me to give care to veterans who really need it.” – Dr. Bennett