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Where to Find Low-Cost Dental Care
State and Local Resources
If you're looking for discounted or free dental care, one of the best resources will be the state or local health department. They may know of programs and you can get started by:
Dental Schools/Dental Hygiene Schools
Although something not widely known, many dental schools will open clinics so that their dental students can gain experience on real patients; often, this service is available at a lower cost. Of course, they will always be assisted and overseen by licensed and experienced dentists. The young dentists of the future get the experience they need, and you get low-cost dental care.
If you want to research this option further, we recommend looking for dental schools using the American Dental Association. Meanwhile, the American Dental Hygienists' Association is where you'll find dental hygiene schools.
Community Health Centers
Alternatively, another option is to visit a federally-funded health center. Rather than having set fees, these centers will consider your income and then charge what you can afford. To start along this path, visit the Health Resources and Services Administration website before then clicking on the “Find a Health Centre” link. You'll see centers near you; they're common in cities and sometimes available in rural areas.
Medicaid and CHIP
As a state-run program, the main aim is to provide medical care to individuals and families, but this can sometimes stretch into dental care. According to the Medicaid policy, all states must offer dental benefits to children. From here, it's up to the state itself to decide whether or not they are extended to adults. While some offer a limited service, others actually cover most treatments.
On the Medicaid website, you'll find plenty of information. Also, you can contact the Medicaid program in your state and click the 'Learn How to Apply for Coverage' link for help.
If you require dental care for children, call 1-877-543-7669; this is the number for Insure Kids Now.
If a family earns too much for Medicaid but not enough to pay for private insurance, this is where CHIP comes in to fill the gap as another state-run program. As long as the child is under the age of 19, CHIP may step in to help provide dental services. Since this is run on a state level, each state will differ in the level of dental care provided.
This time, we find a federally-funded health insurance program and it is designed for those over the age of 65 (though some under 65 will get coverage with particular disabilities). The downside to this option is that only dental care required due to the medical condition will be covered. Therefore, it's impossible to get help with fillings, checkup appointments, dentures, and cleanings.
Visit the Medicare Dental Services website for additional help. Otherwise, dial 1-800-633-4227. To save time, have your Medicare number handy because it will be required.
In some cases, discounted and free dental services are available through United Way. Visit their website and click 'Find Your United Way' to find your local service.
Finally, volunteers with dental, oral, or craniofacial conditions are often required to volunteer for clinical trials (research studies) by the NIDCR. During the study, participants will sometimes be offered some discounted or even free treatments. Each clinical trial will vary, and you can get started with the Clinical Trials section of the NIDCR website. If you want to partake in a clinical trial, there are two other places to look: