Free and reduced cost options


Adult dental care consists of preventive measures, such as x-rays, exams, and cleanings, as well as additional services, such as fillings and root canals, if necessary.

If you need dental care and don’t currently have dental coverage, it can be difficult to pay out of pocket at a private dental office. However, there are many options that provide lower cost options for adults in need. Some services may even be free.

Consider the following options that can help you provide the dental care you need.

Medicaid is a state-run program that provides health and sometimes dental insurance to individuals and families who meet certain income and other eligibility criteria.

Medicaid can cover preventative dental care, such as cleanings and x-rays, but emergency services are more limited under these plans if you are over 21.

If approved for Medicaid, you would use the coverage in a dentist’s office, just as you would with private dental insurance. Over 40 percent of dentists in the United States take Medicaid, but you’ll want to ask the office if they’ll accept your coverage before you go to your appointment.

If you are a veteran, you may be eligible for dental benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Once you have applied for VA dental benefits, you will be informed of the services that may be covered if you are approved.

Depending on your status and service, you may be eligible for one-off benefits, partial care, or even full coverage. Learn more about the benefits and eligibility requirements here.

You may also be eligible to receive care from a VA dental clinic in your area.

If you are not eligible for Medicaid benefits, you will still be able to access discounted dental services by having cleanings, x-rays, and fillings at dental schools.

In order to complete their training, future dentists and dental hygienists must perform such services on real patients. All services are supervised by licensed dentists. By accessing these services, you not only receive professional care, but you also pay much less than you would in a private dental office.

You can find a list of dental schools and dental hygiene schools in your state with their contact details. You will need to make an appointment in advance. It’s also important to find out about fees in advance, as they will likely vary by school and region.

Besides dental schools, community health clinics are other options for accessing dental services at reduced cost. These clinics are managed by the National Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) with the aim of providing health services to low-income individuals and families.

Depending on the location, a community health clinic may offer low cost cleanings and other preventative services.

Appointments tend to be made in advance, so you’ll want to find a clinic near you and call them as soon as possible. For further assistance, you can also call the national hotline at (877) 464-4722 (ASK-HRSA).

While community health clinics offer discounted dental care, community dental events can provide these services for free.

These are offered on a first come, first served basis and are performed by volunteer dentists. Depending on the event, you may even receive additional dental supplies and educational materials to help keep your mouth healthy.

The downside to community dental events is that they can only be offered occasionally. You may be able to find out about upcoming events in your area from Centraide by calling 211.

For the location and information of your local, click here.

The Dental Lifeline Network is a nonprofit organization that operates in all 50 states. With the help of donated dental services, the mission of this non-profit organization is to help provide free dental services to those who cannot afford it. and have a disability, are over 65 or are medically fragile.

Click here to learn more about services and eligibility requirements in your state. Although you may have access to preventative care, the Dental Lifeline network does not provide emergency dental services.

Ideally, you should try to schedule dental x-rays once a year, and cleanings and exams twice a year. It is also important to see your dentist if any suspicious symptoms arise. Don’t ignore any signs of an oral health problem, as it can get worse quickly.

See a dentist if you have any of the following problems:

In addition to seeing a dentist regularly, it’s important to do your best to take care of your mouth at home. You can keep your teeth and gums healthy by:

  • brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • use a soft bristled toothbrush to gently clean your teeth, gum line and tongue
  • floss daily
  • consider mouthwash if you have gingivitis or develop frequent cavities
  • reducing the amount of sugary foods and drinks you eat
  • drink plain water as much as possible

Dental insurance helps cover some of your dental care needs, but there are always ways to access services at low cost, or even free, if you don’t currently have coverage.

First, you can see if you qualify for dental coverage benefits with state programs, such as Medicaid. You may also be eligible for services at local health clinics or through nonprofit organizations. Dental and dental hygiene schools also offer services at a reduced cost.

Whichever option is right for you, it’s important to see a dentist and have your teeth cleaned regularly. Between visits, be sure to stay on top of your oral hygiene to help prevent future problems.


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