Students at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, Indiana treated local veterans to free dental care Feb. 29 through March 2, reported The Gazette. Ex-servicemembers received tooth cleanings, dental X-rays and other services free of charge.

The USI Dental Hygiene Program, in conjunction with its Veteran, Military & Family Resource Center and the Southwest Indiana Area Health Education Center, hosts the program annually. This year, the appointment schedule filled up quickly.

Students work the clinic, but instructors supervise and manage patient flow.

"They learn a lot," Dr. Sam Euler, a professor at USI and clinic overseer, told The Gazette. "They need to see diversity – all different types of mouths – the ones that aren't so clean and the ones that are clean. And it helps the veterans, too, because it's free of charge."

To receive care, veterans had to show valid military identification and fill out a medical history form.

Larry Gries, a Vietnam War veteran, had his teeth cleaned, received a fluoride treatment and got a new set of dental X-rays through the program.

"Oh, I think it's fantastic," the 67-year-old said. "It helps us and it helps the students. They do a thorough job."

Dental care is a key problem for many former servicemembers, reported The Huffington Post. Most don't qualify for Department of Veterans Affairs dental benefits. To receive dental benefits, veterans must be entirely disabled, have been held captive as a prisoner of war or developed an oral condition during deployment. However, the agency does allow former members of the military to enroll in low-cost dental insurance plans via a number of providers.

To fill the void, many private dentistry practices and educational institutions offer free or cost-effective services to veterans. Last year, Aspen Dental, a nationwide dental services company, partnered with the military nonprofit Got Your 6 to help over 4,000 ex-servicemembers receive care.