RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - This is the fifth year health provider Aspen Dental will brighten up the faces of our nation's heroes.
"Today we are volunteering our time and we're bringing in veterans that need a little bit of work done whether that's a filling maybe even a full set of dentures, whatever they need we're volunteering our time and facilities to do that for them," said Rebecca Nodland, patient service representative for Aspen Dental.
Many veterans are not eligible unless they are 100% disabled, have a service-related mouth injury, or classified as a prisoner of war. Therefore, Aspen Dental opened the doors of nearly 500 of its offices across the country for one day to put all of those requirements to the side.
"This morning we actually did a full surgery for a patient and have them a full set of teeth and we've done a couple fillings and extractions," Nodland said.
"I'm not a big fan of coming in on Saturdays and working. I rather be doing something else but for what these guys have been through and what they've devoted to our country, it's nothing compared to my little tiny sacrifice I'm doing today," said Dr. Austin Schmalz, a dentist at Aspen Dental.
Dr. Schmalz at Aspen Dental in Rapid City says this single day of service allows him to share essential information with veterans about their teeth who may not have been able to get it in the past.
"Whether they go to back to a private practice or some other office, I'm completely fine with that. It's more kind of an educational thing to let them know what's going on inside their mouth," Schmalz continued.
"It's nice. They leave happy. We've had some leave in tears because we've been able to really help them change their smiles and by changing their smiles we've been able to change their lives," Nodland added.
Since 2014, Aspen Dental practices have donated more than $7.5 million in dentistry and helped over 12,000 veterans. With their open-door policy, the mission was to brighten up as many faces as they could.