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How To Get Free or Inexpensive Dental Treatment

Updated on June 1, 2010

The rising costs of dental care mean that many people are sidelining their dental health as they simply cannot afford it. If you are one of the estimated 100 million Americans who are without dental insurance, a simple check-up can prove expensive enough. This can be even worse if you suddenly develop a dental emergency that requires immediate treatment. If you do not have a dental insurance plan or the necessary cash to pay for your treatment, there are ways to receive free or inexpensive dental care. 

Free Medical Clinics

Most states in the US have a Free Medical Clinic. These are designed to cater for low income families, so you may not be able to receive dental treatment here. If you qualify for dental treatment in general (but not specifically for the free dental treatment), you will usually be charged $20 or less for minor treatment. Even if you are required to pay for your treatment, it will almost always be far cheaper than having dental treatment done at a dental surgery.

Dental Colleges

If you do not mind having a dental student perform your dental work, you can contact dental colleges in your local area. Although it will be a dental student carrying out the treatment, he or she will be supervised by dental professionals throughout your appointment. Not all dental colleges will provide free treatment, and you may well have to provide an up-front fee for X-rays and subsequent treatment. However, this can still work out to be a lot cheaper than it would be if you saw a dentist. For dental emergencies, your treatment may be performed for free (or near enough). Be aware that as it will usually be a dental student carrying out your dental treatment, this option comes with the possibility that any dental work that is carried out on you may not be particularly high quality and mistakes can happen due to his or her relative inexperience. For fairly minor dental work though, this is a good way to get affordable dental treatment. 

Local community colleges

Sometimes, you may just want your teeth to be cleaned so that any build-up of plaque and tartar can be dealt with. If there is a local community college in your area, find out whether they run training courses for dental hygienists. If they do, there is a good chance that one of the trainee dental hygienists will perform a scale and polish on your teeth under the supervision of a professional. This is much cheaper than having the same procedure done at a dental surgery. 

Free dental care events

The national non-profit organization, Dentistry From The Heart, often organizes free dental care events around America. These typically last for one or two days and provide free dental care to people who do not have dental insurance on a first-come first-served basis. 

Negotiate with your dentist

Your dental surgery may be willing to adapt its price plan for low-income individuals, but you will not know unless you ask them about this. 


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