Have you been holding off on getting dental care due to a lack of funds? Maybe you are faced with a dental emergency, but lack the insurance or cash to be able to pay out of pocket to get treatment.
If so, there are many others in your position. Only 45 percent of Americans have access to dental insurance. While free dentist offices are hard to find, several free emergency dental care options are available and can provide you with the help you need.
State Medicaid and CHIP Programs
All states must provide dental services to children covered by Medicaid. In some cases, those benefits will extend to adults. In most states, limited free emergency dental services are available to adults over age 21. In others, comprehensive services are available. A CHIP program run by your state may help minors whose parents earn too much for them to qualify for Medicaid.
If you are in a lot of pain or have an oral infection, you should consider visiting a nearby emergency room. While emergency rooms are not ideal sources of free dental care, they can provide you with prescriptions for antibiotics to help you deal with an infection. They may also provide you with pain medication to help you get through the next few days. In other words, they will be able to treat your symptoms but not the dental problem. If the emergency room has a dentist available, they may perform an extraction but this is rarely the case; most are not equipped to provide dental services. This means that if you do not follow up with appropriate dental care, you are likely to wind up in the emergency room again before too long. You probably will not get free dental emergency care in an emergency room; rather, it can be very expensive. Even so, it is a better option than leaving an infection untreated. If you have multiple emergency rooms to choose from, look for one that is connected to a community dental clinic. This allows you to make an appointment with the dental clinic before leaving the emergency room. Community dental clinics tend to be understaffed, but you may be able to get in faster if the emergency room refers you.
A Community Dental Clinic
While you may not be able to find free dentist offices, you can find community dental clinics in every state. Note that it may be necessary to travel to get to free dental care and clinics if you live in a rural area since many are in cities. Check with a public hospital for information on free dental care and clinics in your area. Another option is to check the website of the American Dental Association, which provides a page that lists low-cost dental care providers in each state.
Dental School Clinics
If your dental health problems are extensive, dental school clinics can be a great option for local free dental care. These clinics provide dental students with on-the-job experience so that they can be licensed. You may not always be able to get free care from a dental school clinic, but it is usually affordable. Many of them charge based on a sliding scale, which means that you pay only what you are able to afford. The only drawback is that as a part of a school, you will be treated by students. These students will need to have their work checked by a licensed dentist. This means that treatment may take longer than it would at a regular dentist’s office.
There are various organizations that may assist you to find low-cost or free emergency dental care, including United Way and Dentistry From the Heart. In addition, you can check the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) website. The HRSA is a resource for people without insurance who need local free dental and medical assistance. Mission of Mercy is a charity that can provide you with free dental emergency care if you live in one of four states. Care is available in Arizona and Texas well as in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) sometimes needs volunteers for dental conditions that they are studying. They will often provide low-cost or free dental treatment for participants. Visit the NIDCR website to find out about clinical trials near you and to learn whether any of them might meet your needs. You should note that the type of care that you receive will usually be limited to the scope of the study. Make sure that a clinical trial is going to provide the care that you need.
Enroll in Dental discount Plan
A dental discount plan can provide you with a discount of up to 60 percent on the cost of dental care. Of course, you will need to have your dental care provided by a dentist who accepts these plans.
Get a Part-Time Job That Provides Dental Insurance
Employers often reserve access to dental insurance benefits for full-time employees; however, some do provide them to part-time workers. As long as you meet the minimum number of hours that you need to work each month, you can get dental insurance.