Dental problems are some of the common health issues older adults experience, according to the American Geriatrics Society's Health in Aging Foundation. Medicare doesn't cover dental care, and Medicaid services for low-income seniors are limited. Fortunately, there are programs designed to provide dental assistance to seniors and other low-income adults.
Donated Dental Services
The Dental Lifeline Network runs the Donated Dental Services program designed to provide dental treatment to permanently disabled individuals and senior citizens. The program is open to people who can't afford dental work and don't qualify for public assistance programs, such as Medicaid. A network of more than 15,000 dentists volunteer their services throughout the country. The eligibility guidelines vary in each state. Apply by completing your state's Donated Dental Services program application. You'll need to provide information about your household size, income, expenses, medical history and dental needs. Applications must be returned by mail, fax or online, as indicated on the application. Once your application is reviewed, a caseworker may contact you to request additional information. If approved, you're matched with a dentist in the area.
In some states, there may be a waiting list. If the waiting list gets too long, it may close temporarily. However, if you have a note from your physician that you can't receive necessary medical treatment due to a dental condition, you can still apply even if the list is closed.
Dentistry From The Heart
Dentistry From the Heart is a nonprofit organization that provides free dental care to people in need during events held across the country. Dentists and hygienists donate their services and time to provide free fillings, extractions and cleanings. The organization hosts events year-round in every state. The program is open to all adults older than 18 on a first-come, first-served basis.
Catholic Charities Dental Clinics
Catholic Charities is a national charitable organization that strives to help people with various basic needs. The charity is known for providing food, clothing and financial support. The programs offered vary based on the location, but many offer some form of dental assistance. For example, the Diocese of Tulsa runs the Blessed Mother Teresa Dental Services dental facility. A volunteer staff of dentists and hygienists provide exams, restorative care, full dentures and removable partial dentures to the under-served members of the community. The Archdioceses of Washington, D.C., provides dental care to uninsured low-income people at the Spanish Catholic Center. Find out about programs available through your local Catholic Charities dioceses by visiting CatholicChartiesUSA.org.
National Association of Free Dental Clinics
The National Association of Free Dental Clinics is a nonprofit organization that provides a searchable database of free or charitable dental clinics in each state. Enter your location to search for nearby clinics. For example, in New York City the New Life Community Health Center provides cleanings and general dentistry services. In Austin, the Get Up Project features a mobile dental program to reach individuals without transportation.