Whenever something is free, you might be skeptical. Is it real or is it too good to be true?
The cost of properly caring for your natural and artificial teeth can really add up. But free and low-cost dental care does exist, and that is great news for those with a lower income or who are financially conservative.Creative Commons
How To Find Cheap Or Free Dental Care
Believe it or not, quality free and low-cost dental care does exist, you just have to know where to look for it.
But first a word of caution: as you look for ways to save on dental care, just be careful about visiting some websites. If a website promising to provide a list of free dental care providers asks for your contact info or requires you to create an account, be cautious. This could simply be a website looking to obtain and sell your information. You should only have to enter your zip code to find a low-cost dentist in your area.
Here are some legitimate options for affordable dental care.
Free Dental Clinics
Every state provides multiple free or cheap dental clinics, usually in cities. To find one of these, you can check with your local hospital. They may have a community dental clinic or be able to refer you to one.
You can also find free or low-cost dental clinics in your state using the American Dental Association (ADA) website.
Dental School Clinics
Another great option is to visit a dental school clinic. You need affordable dental care, dental students need practice, and it’s all supervised by a licensed dentist.
The downside is that you may end up spending more time in the dentist chair because the licensed dentist will need to check the students’ work and spend one-on-one time with them. Sometimes it can take multiple visits to finish your dental care.
You can check our list to find a dental school in your area.
Dental Care Charity Organizations
There are plenty of organizations that offer free or affordable dental care.
- The United Way is a network of community-focused charities that provide dental care
- The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has lots of resources for uninsured people or those who are at risk for developing health problem if they don’t get medical or dental care quickly
- Dentistry From The Heart sets up free dental care events where dentists volunteer their dental services
- Mission of Mercy provides free dental care to people whose dental insurance doesn’t cover everything (only in Arizona, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Texas)
Sometimes you can get in on a medical trial related to dental care. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) will run these clinical trials and look for volunteers with specific dental care needs that fit their research studies. If you can find a study that relates to your specific needs, you could get free or cheap dental care.
To look for a study that could provide you affordable dental treatment, visit the NIDCR’s website.
Dental Discount Plans
Another fine way of getting discounted dental care is a dental discount plan. These types of plans cover specialty procedures by giving you a percentage off the total cost of your dental care. Plus, you won’t need to pay a deductible or work under a maximum, like with a dental insurance plan. And signing up involves no paperwork hassles, no health restrictions, no annual limits, and no waiting.
These plans are not dental insurance — think of dental saving plans as an alternative to insurance. They are more like club memberships. You pay an enrollment fee and an annual membership fee, which gives you get access to tons of discounts on different dental procedures.
How Much Do Dental Discount Plans Cost?
To get access to all of these discounts, you may pay an annual membership fee as little as $97 while getting discounts between 20% and 60% off.
How To Get A Dental Discount Plan
:DentalPlans is a website that allows you to select the right Dental Discount Plan for your needs. On the website, you enter your zip code, click “Find My Plan,” and you’ll get a list of plans.
Free Dental Care For Children
So we’ve covered the options for free or low-cost dental care for adults, but what about for kids?
Well, many of the options above can apply to children. But if you’re looking for free dental care specifically geared toward children, there are plenty of options.
Give Kids A Smile
Thanks to a program called Give Kids A Smile (through the American Dental Association), children who don’t have access to dental care can get education about oral health as well as free screenings, preventative care, and even a check-up with a volunteer dentist.
More than 5.5 million kids have gotten free dental services through GKAS since the program started in 2003. To get more info about this for your children or grandchildren, you can contact GKAS at 844-490-GKAS (4527).
State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP) and Medicaid
Through Medicaid and a program called the State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP), children can qualify for free or low-cost dental coverage, allowing them to get the oral care they need. To see what dentists in your state participate in this program, you can either visit the Insure Kids Now website or call them at 1-877-KIDS-NOW.
Can You Get Free Emergency Dental Care?
If you have a dental emergency (toothache, missing tooth from an injury, etc) and you can’t wait to see your dentist, it’s better to visit the emergency room than to try to fix the problem yourself. That could make things worse.
Dental emergencies happen all the time, so you might be wondering if the ER can handle them and what it will cost you.
If your local ER has a dentist on staff, then they should easily be able to take care of the problem in-house. If not, they can give you antibiotics and pain medication to last you until you can visit your dentist.
As for the cost, the only way an ER visit will be free or affordable is if you have insurance that will cover your dental emergency. And the average cost of an ER visit for a dental emergency is about $750, and that number can be a lot higher if you live in a city.
But an untreated tooth infection can lead to some serious oral problems and can even end up being life threatening. And an ER doctor may be able to send a referral for you to your dentist, meaning you could schedule a follow-up appointment sooner.
Free Dental Care For Veterans
The United States Department Of Veterans Affairs offers dental care benefits for qualifying veterans. For those veterans, there’s an online application to receive those free or low-cost benefits.
For veterans who do not qualify, the VA also offers reduced-cost dental insurance through their healthcare plans, thanks to the VA Dental Insurance Program.
Plus, veterans who have recently served could be entitled to a one-time course that includes free dental care. To receive this benefit, it requires veterans apply within 180 days after discharge from a period of active duty lasting 90 days or more.
In conclusion, you can get quality dental care for free or cheap. Some people may not believe it, but it’s true. If you meet someone who calls you liar in regard to this topic, simply show them this article and watch their eyes light up with shock and joy.