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Dental services are expensive, so many Americans tend to neglect treatment. Many jobs in the U.S. also have a lack of dental coverage, which leaves low-income families struggling to find affordable treatment. Fortunately, low-income dental services are possible to find with research and patience.
Some dentists charge over $150 for a simple dental exam and teeth cleaning, which is often too expensive for the average American family.
Even if you have insurance, most dental procedures are still costly. Some dental insurance plans cover 100 percent of preventive treatment, which includes two dental exams and teeth cleanings per year. However, restorative treatment (e.g., filling and crowns) may only be partially covered or not covered at all.
Depending on your situation and income, you may qualify for the following low-income dental services:
There are a few different types of clinics that offer dental services at reduced rates. These include nonprofit, free, and public dental clinics:
Many dental programs at colleges around the U.S. offer discounted dental services. These programs include allied dental education programs, predoctoral dental education programs (DDS/DMD), and advanced dental education programs.
Dental hygiene schools (American Dental Hygienists’ Association) also offers low-cost, supervised dental care. The general public can visit these on-campus clinics to receive treatment from dental students, who all require hands-on training before graduation.
Often, patients end up paying half of the cost, or less, for cavity fillings and restorative treatments (e.g., crowns, implants, and bridges). Root canals, gum disease treatment, and some oral surgeries are also offered at reduced prices.
Licensed supervisors and dentists are there to guide students throughout the entire process. So you will still receive safe, high-quality dental care while also saving money.
Some advantages and disadvantages to these low-cost dental services include:
Over 15,000 volunteer dentists and dental labs across America operate Donated Dental Services (DDS). There is one program in each U.S. state. In short, the DDS provides free dental treatment to those with disabilities.
The elderly and people with chronic medical conditions are also candidates for DDS. However, people also have to meet certain criteria, including not being able to afford regular dental treatment and having no access to public aid.
The government also has three programs that provide dental care to specific individuals. You may qualify for one or more of the following programs, depending on your age and income:
If you have been diagnosed with a dental condition or disease that is expensive to treat, you may be eligible to participate in a free clinical trial. Although, not everyone can participate in these trials. Eligibility depends on your age, health history, and the condition you have.
Even though clinical trials are free, they are risky. This is because many of the medications and techniques used during the trials aren’t FDA approved, so you are more likely to develop side effects.
These effects can range from mild to severe. Therefore, they will inform you about the potential complications before beginning the trial.
If you are interested in buying dental insurance, many insurance companies offer affordable plans. For example, CIGNA offers three different plans. The lowest one starts at just $19 a month per person. It covers 100 percent of preventive services twice a year, which includes dental exams and teeth cleanings. This plan does not cover orthodontics or restorative services.
Other popular dental insurance companies include Delta Dental, Aetna, Humana, and United Healthcare. These companies also offer more affordable plans. Similar to CIGNA, preventive treatments are covered in full. But you typically pay for restorative treatments, orthodontics, and oral surgeries out-of-pocket.
A routine dental exam and teeth cleaning costs between $150 and $350 without insurance. You should visit your dentist twice a year for these services, which can cost up to $700 a year per person. So, If you invest in a low-cost dental insurance plan (about $19 per month), you’ll save money in the long-run.
“Dental Care.” Medicaid, www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/benefits/dental-care/index.html.
“Dental Services.” Dental Service Coverage, www.medicare.gov/coverage/dental-services.
Digital Communications Division. “Where Can I Find Low-Cost Dental Care?” HHS.gov, 18 Sept. 2017, www.hhs.gov/answers/health-care/where-can-i-find-low-cost-dental-care/index.html.
“Eligibility.” Medicaid, www.medicaid.gov/chip/eligibility/index.html.
Find a Program, www.ada.org/en/coda/find-a-program.
“Get Access To Dental Care With Our Programs: DDS: DLN.” Dental Lifeline Network, dentallifeline.org/about-us/our-programs/.
Individual CIGNA Dental Choice. https://www.cigna.com/assets/docs/texas/844097_Dental_Choice.pdf
“Medicaid: Medicaid.” Medicaid Home, www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/index.html.
“What Dental Insurance Covers.” Https://Www.deltadental.com, https://www.deltadental.com/us/en/protect-my-smile/dental-benefits/dental-insurance/what-dental-insurance-covers.html.