According to a dental implants to replace them.
Treatment Begins for a Long-Standing Injury
The 81-year old vet had his teeth damaged in incidents in and around a Texas air base in the 1950s. Since then, his mouth had not been in good shape, and eventually in 2005 the VA in New Jersey pulled four of his upper teeth, including three molars. Then, in 2010, the VA pulled two more lower teeth.
According to the vet, he would not have agreed to have his teeth pulled if there had not been an understanding that the teeth would be replaced with dental implants.
Discovery of a Clerical Error Stops Treatment
However, shortly after he had his teeth pulled in 2010, the VA claims that it had been improperly administering care. The VA claims that the vet was receiving Class I care when he only qualified for Class IIA care. Under Class IIA, all the vet qualified for was partial dentures.
When the vet took his case to a patient advocate, he was told in 2011 that the VA would provide dental implants for the lower teeth, but not for the uppers. This was due not to the benefits classification but because his mouth was not in good enough condition for dental implants in the upper part of the mouth.
He Talked to His Congressmen
The vet then went to his Congressmen for help. After inquiries by both his representative and his senator, the VA said, “no treatment plan which included dental implants to replace his upper molars was ever discussed or initiated.”
Unfortunately, records from the vet’s appointments record the discussion of implants in 2005, 2007, and 2009. However, it was noted in 2009 that “structural deficiencies” might prevent him from receiving them.
A Treatment Option?
Finally, after the media attention, or perhaps due to the involvement of the Congressmen, the vet’s benefits were expanded and he now qualifies for dental implants. However, there’s a catch.
The VA in New Jersey where his teeth were removed considers the procedure too risky for their expertise. The procedure, which they say will require a bone graft, may be performed in New York City, if anywhere.
Bureaucratic Mix-up or Difficult Procedure?
Without having access to the man’s dental records, it’s hard to know for sure whether it was the benefits classification that caused the problem. With teeth that had been in poor shape since the 1950s, it’s quite likely that it was simply a lack of quality bone that prevented this senior from receiving dental implants. At his age and health, he may not be capable of undergoing a bone graft procedure followed by dental implants. It’s hard for us to know.
However, if you are curious about whether dental implants are right for you, please contact Dental Excellence of Blue Bell today for a discussion.