Though it's Aspen Dental's fourth annual day of service, this marks the Shawnee site's inaugural event since opening in Suite A at 4520 Market Place — next to Freddy's — at the end of April.

Nearly 450 Aspen Dental practices across the country are opening their doors Saturday to provide a day of free dental care for thousands of the nation’s veterans.

Though it's Aspen Dental's fourth annual day of service, this marks the Shawnee site's inaugural event since opening in Suite A at 4520 Market Place — next to Freddy's — at the end of April.

Shawnee's Dr. Edward Kahn and Dr. Bruce Sharpe, along with a handful of their staff members, are sharing their time and expertise all day for area veterans.

Kahn said he has generally seen anywhere from 15 to 30 vets come to a site for dental care during an event.

“In total, we saw nearly 4,500 veterans last year,” Kahn said. “We are hoping for 6,000 this year.”

Of the services offered, Kahn said it really depends on the needs of the patient.

“There have been times when a veteran was really in need of more help and couldn't pay for service, so we had him keep coming in until the work he needed was done,” Kahn said.

Some local veterans have already made appointments, though walk-ins are welcome, Kahn said.

He said the day of service is for veterans only — the office will be closed to regular patients that day.

Kahn said the event is a lot of fun.

“We all volunteer our time; no one is getting paid for doing it,” he said.

Military.com states dental benefits are provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) according to law. In some instances, VA is authorized to provide extensive dental care, while in other cases treatment may be limited, the website reads.

According to Ketchum Media Relations, a marketing agency working with Aspen Dental, of the more than 21 million veterans across the U.S., fewer than 10 million are enrolled for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health benefits, which for many does not include dental care benefits, and more than 1.2 million lack health insurance altogether. The Day of Service is the largest single-day oral health initiative targeted at veterans.

The Shawnee office is one of 13 Aspen Dental practices in Oklahoma.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Shawnee's Aspen Dental at (405) 695-5038.

You can reach Vicky O. Misa at (405) 214-3962.