Dental issues can seriously affect your overall physical health, so it's important to address teeth problems as soon as they arise. Dental insurance, Medicaid and Medicare will cover some dental expenses at participating providers, but there will still be an out of pocket cost for you. If you need your teeth fixed for free, there are federally-funded options and nonprofit organizations that might be able to help.
Federally-Funded Health Centers
The Bureau of Primary Health, which is a service of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, funds local community health centers that provide health and dental care. Many of these centers offer dental care on a sliding scale basis, which means that the care is free if you don't have any income. To find a list of funded centers in your area, use the agency's online search tool.
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Dentistry From the Heart
Dentistry From the Heart is a nonprofit organization that utilizes volunteer dentists and hygienists to offer free dental care to those who need it. Unlike other programs, there are less stringent requirements that you have to meet to receive care in one of their clinics. According to their FAQ, the only requirement for care is that you be at least 18 years old. Although the nonprofit is based in New Port Richey, Florida, they set up free dental clinic events around the country that you can potentially take advantage of. To view the dates and locations of their free dental clinics, check their online schedule. The organization recommends that you arrive early to these events because demand is high.
Dental Lifeline Network
Dental Lifeline Network is a nonprofit program that offers free and comprehensive dental treatment to people with disabilities, the elderly and the medically fragile. The organization aims to provide services to those who can't afford treatment, but don't qualify for other forms of public aid or funding. The nonprofit has a presence in every state, a network of over 15,000 dentists with 3,600 labs across the country. Use the organization's online map to find qualification guidelines and applications for your state.
Research centers and universities often seek volunteers with specific dental or oral problems to participate in clinical and research trials. The researchers in these trials are often testing the efficacy of a new dental technique, drug or instrument. If your dental issue meets their criteria, you can potentially receive free dental care from qualified physicians. To search for clinical trials in your area, visit ClinicalTrials.gov.
There may be state-funded health centers or nonprofits specific to your area that can provide you with assistance. Some of these agencies offer free dental work. To find out about these programs, contact your local 211 and ask if there are any agencies or programs that offer free dental assistance.
Most dental schools and some dental hygiene schools offer reduced-cost dental treatment to the public. The quality of care is generally very good and students are supervised by licensed professionals. To find schools in your area, contact your state dental association or browse a comprehensive list of dental schools and dental hygiene schools.