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How to Find Free or Low Cost Dental Clinics?

How to Find Free or Low Cost Dental Clinics?

Dental care can be extremely expensive, and if you’re struggling financially, it can be one of the first costs that seem to get cut from your monthly budget.  If you’re dealing with a dental emergency and don’t have the money. Dental insurance or dental discount plans may be able to help pay for your treatment.

Why is Dental Care Important?

Even if you’ve experienced a number of financial setbacks, one of the worst things that you can do for your overall health is to delay dental work.  There are a number of consequences that can easily become realities if you neglect your teeth.

Face and tooth pain – This type of pain is often caused by a gum infection, which can ultimately lead to tooth loss. Gingivitis, as well as advanced gum disease is thought to affect more than 75% of the American population.

Digestion issues – Digestion obviously begins in the mouth, and if problems arise, health issues can present themselves such as irritable bowel syndrome, as well as other types of digestive disorders.

Organ problems – What most people don’t realize is that tooth problems can affect the health of major organs in the body. In addition, many diseases that affect the organs have oral manifestations which can often be spotted by your dentist – such as:

  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Leukemia
  • Oral Cancer
  • Kidney Disease
  • Pancreatic Cancer

What types of dental options do I have without money?

Clinical Trials

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), occasionally looks for volunteers who may have certain oral, dental, or craniofacial problems.  These volunteers may be eligible for research studies, often referred to as clinical trials.  These medical studies are often offered to participants for free, or at a significantly reduced cost, which can result in free or heavily discounted dental care for those involved.

To look for NIDCR clinical trials in your area that could meet your needs, feel free to visit the NIDCR web site.

Dental Schools

If you’re struggling to find the funds to pay for dental care, dental school clinics can offer a great way to deal with major dental health issues.  Dental students must acquire the necessary skills to complete complex dental procedures before they can be fully licensed, and many dental schools will setup clinics that provide this experience to their dental students.  While these dental care services may not always be free, they’ll likely be much more affordable than going to a traditional dental practice.  Some dental school clinics will offer their services on a sliding scale, depending on your income level.

One of the downsides of having your dental care done at a dental school is that it will likely take more time than going to a traditional dentist.  Since students are learning as they perform dental work, everything that they do must be checked thoroughly by a licensed dentist.  For this reason, you may have to visit the dental school clinic a number of times during your treatment plan.

If you’re looking for a list of dental schools in your area, the American Dental Association (ADA) has compiled a list that can be accessed here.

Community Dental Clinics

All states around the country have their share of either free or low-cost dental clinics.  Depending on where you live, you may have to travel to access one of these clinics as they’re usually in larger cities – especially areas that have dental schools.

Check with your local hospital to find out where the closest community dental clinic is in your area.  The ADA has actually put together a map that highlights all of the free and low-cost dental clinics in each state around the country.  This map includes not just community dental clinics, but also dental school clinics, dental care access programs, as well as organizations that are focused on helping low-income individuals access affordable dental care.

Privately Operated Organizations

There are a number of organizations that recognize the importance of affordable dental care, and work to assist those in need.  A few of these organizations include:

  • United Way – a coalition of charitable organizations that champion the rights of the underserved.
  • Mission of Mercy – offers free dental care to those who do not have funds, or proper dental insurance coverage in Arizona, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Texas.
  • Dentistry From The Heart – arranges free dental care events where dentists donate their time to help those in need.
  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) – resource for uninsured citizens who are at high risk for developing health problems due to lack of proper medical and dental care.

Don’t Give Up – Dental Care Can Be Affordable

When it comes to proper dental care, don’t give up, even if you cannot afford traditional dental treatment.  Use this guide as a resource to find options to ensure that you keep your teeth healthy, regardless of your economic circumstances.

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