Four Excellent Resources For People Who Cannot Afford Dental Care

Posted on: 17 December 2014

People that cannot afford dental care or do not have insurance often feel helpless if an emergency or mandatory dental procedure arises. Yet, there are many low- and no-cost options for people that cannot afford dental services. Here are four excellent resources.

Dental Schools

Nearly all states have dental schools connected to public or private universities. Traditionally, these dental schools have four-year-long curricula and award graduating students with doctorates in either dental surgery or dental medicine. Students typically learn dentistry basics in the first two years, and undergo clinical training in the last two years. During clinical training, students work alongside experienced practicing dentists and perform various dental procedures.

These dental school programs are excellent opportunities for patients looking for affordable dental care at reduced rates. Sometimes, the appointments take longer because students are in the learning process, but the students' work is supervised. Some universities offer students dental specializations, like oral surgery or periodontics, so patients in need of specific dental procedures can likely find these services cheaper through a dental school than through a private practice.

Donated Dental Services

Dentists are licensed in the states where they practice; many of these state licensing associations require practicing members to complete a certain number of "continuing education" hours. Often, dentists can apply "pro bono" volunteer hours toward this requirement. Even in states without this requirement, many dentists choose to donate a certain number of dental charitable hours.

Charitable organizations, such as the Dental Lifeline Network, help connect dentists and oral surgeons with disabled, mentally fragile, or elderly patients that cannot afford dental services or insurance. Patients apply through state chapters, which determine qualification standards. In many cases, volunteering dentists can even make house calls or perform emergency services.

State Programs

Many states offer dental benefits to adults through Medicaid programs, and all states offer these benefits to children. Medicaid is a state program that offers low-cost medical care to low income citizens, people with children, seniors, pregnant women, and people with disabilities. 

State Medicaid programs offer varying dental benefits, from coverage of minimal oral exams to emergency care to more comprehensive procedures. The federal Medicaid website has information about each state's specific Medicaid benefits and qualifying criteria.  

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are great ways for patients to receive specific dental procedures at no cost. In many cases, the clinical researchers behind the trials even pay volunteers that participate in these trials.

Clinical trials are usually performed with specific research goals in mind, like medication effectiveness or specific disease treatment. Patients who are lucky enough to meet trial qualifications will undergo controlled dental care in all aspects of the procedure.