Zufall Health Creates Healthy Smiles in Time for Veterans’ Day, and All Year-Round

Dozens of low-income military veterans received no-cost dental care at Zufall Health’s “Smiles for Our Heroes” event, sponsored by Delta Dental and the New Jersey Dental Association, on Saturday, November 5 in Dover and Morristown.

Zufall provided a full range of services including dental exams and cleanings, oral cancer assessments, x-rays, fillings, and dentures, as well as refreshments, goodie bags, and nutrition education. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), a former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot, made a visit to Morristown to support the day’s activities and meet with fellow veterans.

John Boardman, 86, was especially pleased with the care he received from Antonella Maietta, DMD, in Morristown. Boardman, a U.S. Army veteran who was stationed in Germany in the 1950s, recently suffered a fall that badly chipped his front tooth. Maietta repaired the tooth with bonding to Boardman’s great satisfaction.

“He was so excited to show everyone his new smile,” Maietta said.

The occasion marked the soft relaunch of Smiles for Our Heroes after a three-year hiatus. Prior to the pandemic, from 2017 to 2019, Smiles was a weekend-long event in November with blood pressure screenings, live entertainment, and games. The operation served over 300 vets with help from volunteer dental professionals all over the state. Due to ongoing COVID safety concerns, the event was temporarily paused and returned this year in a smaller, safer format.

Top: Antonella Maietta, DMD, and Army veteran John Boardman. Above: Zufall Health president and chief executive officer Eva Turbiner; Zufall Health dental director Howard Rappoport, DDS; Rep. Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11); and Zufall Health chief dental officer Sam Wakim, DMD, MPH, before Sherrill’s tour of the the dental facilities at 4 Atno Ave.

“Our commitment to serving veterans hasn’t stopped,” Zufall Health president and chief executive Eva Turbiner assured guests in Morristown. “Smiles for Our Heroes continues. All year long, we take care of veterans by providing them with free or very reduced cost dental care at our locations throughout New Jersey.”

Vets face substantial barriers to affordable dental care. Nationwide, 85 percent of former servicepeople do not qualify for dental benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and Medicare – federal insurance for people 65 and older – rarely includes dental coverage. Out-of-pocket expenses for routine dental cleanings average more than $100 per visit, and bonding, which Boardman received, can be as costly as $600 per tooth.

“The year-round model ensures vets get care when they need it, instead of waiting until our annual November event to address their oral health,” explained Zufall Health chief dental officer Sam Wakim, DMD, MPH. “Thanks to continued funding from Delta Dental, Zufall has proudly served approximately 500 veterans’ dental needs since the inception of this program.

“The continuity of care and ongoing access to care is what really makes a difference,” Turbiner said.

Zufall applauds Delta Dental and the New Jersey Dental Association for making Saturday’s event possible. Additional support was provided by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association and the New Jersey Dental Assistants Association.

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