U.S. Navy Veteran Kevin Cooper has been giving back to fellow veterans through his volunteer work with the Disabled American Veterans.
“The DAV has given me so much,” Cooper said. “It’s like a big family and I want to give back as much as I can.”
This year for Veterans Day, Dr. Sibera Brannon from Affordable Dentures and Implants, 10918 W. Bell Road, Sun City, wanted to do something special for Cooper — provide him with the gift of a smile through much-needed dental care.
“Smiling for me doesn’t exist,” said Cooper, who served during Operation Enduring Freedom. “I keep a mustache just to cover my mouth. I don’t enjoy singing karaoke anymore because I’m missing teeth. Eating has also become more difficult.”
The day before Veterans Day, Cooper visited Dr. Brannon’s practice to begin his free dental care, valued at $10,000. His appointment include dental implant surgery. Cooper received new teeth secured to his jaw with dental implants, providing him with improved functionality to smile and eat the foods he enjoys.
“Every year, my practice works with the local DAV chapter to identify veterans for our gift of a smile program,” said Brannon, who donated nearly $100,000 in dental care to veterans through the program. “Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country, and it is truly an honor for me and my team to give back. This is the least we can do to help our Veterans smile and improve their overall well-being and quality of life.”
Cooper is not alone in his dental care needs. According to the American College of Prosthodontists, 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth and more than 35 million Americans are missing all their teeth on one or both arches. For most military veterans, dental care is not included in their military benefits.
“I’ve dealt with missing teeth for so long. I’m looking forward to having confidence in being able to talk with people and smiling out loud without covering my mouth,” Cooper said before his surgery. “I absolutely love corn-on-the-cob and homemade beef jerky and look forward to eating that again!”
In addition to Cooper, Brannon provided, on Veterans Day, the gift of free dental care to U.S. Navy veteran Larry Raddish. Valued at $20,000, Raddish’s dental treatment included new upper dentures and lower fixed arch dental implants to secure new teeth.
“This is going to give me a better quality of life,” Raddish said before the surgery. “It’s a dream come true for me, and I hope it is a step in the right direction to help me enjoy being out in public and not feel so isolated. This means the world to me. Saying thank you is not enough.”