Financial Assistance for Dental Work

erica medical reviewer
Medically Reviewed
by Dr. Erica Anand
Kyra Wilians
Written by
Kyra Wilians
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Evidence Based
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6 sources cited
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What to Do if You Can’t Afford a Dentist

If you can’t afford a dentist, you shouldn’t worry. There are a variety of options available to finance dental procedures and even ways to receive dental care for free (for qualified patients).

Average Costs of Common Dental Treatments (With & Without Insurance)

  • Fillings — Dental fillings are usually partially or fully covered by insurance. The price of dental fillings varies depending on the type of material used (silver or composite). Dental fillings cost between $10 to $50 (with insurance) and $150 to $450 (without insurance).
  • Gum disease treatment (scaling and root planing) — Most dental insurance plans will cover at least half, if not more, of dental scaling and root planing treatment. This gum disease treatment costs between $50 to $150 (with insurance) and $150 to $300 (without insurance).
  • Root canal and crown — Root canal treatment is recommended for a tooth that is severely damaged or infected and needs to be replaced. Prices of root canal treatment vary depending on the dentist, location, and condition of the tooth. Root canal treatment costs between $200 to $1,500 (with insurance) and $700 to $1,800 (without insurance).
  • Dental implant —Dental implants are sometimes covered by insurance, depending on whether or not they are deemed medically necessary. Implants can be a good long-term investment in oral health because, while implants cost more upfront than dentures, they are less likely to need replacement. The average cost of a dental implant is $1,000 to $3,000 (with insurance) and $2,000 to $4,500 (without insurance).
  • Dental bridge —The cost of dental bridges varies depending on the materials used. Patients will pay more for an all-porcelain bridge than for a metal or porcelain-fused bridge. A dental bridge can cost between $300 and $1,000 per tooth (with insurance) and up to $1,500 per tooth (without insurance).
  • Tooth extraction — The cost of a tooth extraction depends on each specific case and whether surgery and anesthesia are required. A basic tooth removal costs between $75 to $300 (with insurance) and up to $600 (without insurance). 
  • Dentures — Dentures cost from $600 to $8,000 depending on the quality of the dentures. Dentures are considered a major procedure and are generally covered at 50% by dental insurance. 
  • Dental cleanings —A dental cleaning can cost between $50 to $200 (with insurance) and $75 to $400 (with no insurance).
  • Gum graft — A gum graft costs between $700 to $1,300 (on average). Most insurance plans cover this procedure entirely because it is deemed medically necessary.
  • Braces — Braces can range from $3,000 to $10,000 depending on the type of braces (metal, ceramic, or lingual braces). Braces are often not covered by insurance because they are considered orthodontic or cosmetic treatment. Still, insurance may cover braces at least partially in certain circumstances when deemed medically necessary. 1

11 Financial Assistance Options for Dental Work

An estimated 74 million Americans do not have dental insurance coverage. For those without dental insurance, there are various financial assistance options for dental care, including local health departments, dental schools, clinical trials, and state and local resources.2

1. Dental Discount Plans

Dental discount plans, also known as dental savings plans, are an affordable alternative to traditional dental insurance. 

With a discount dental plan, you pay an annual fee and receive discounts on dental services throughout the membership course.  After you sign up, you’ll have access to a nationwide network of over 140,000 dentists offering 10 to 60 percent savings on preventative and restorative treatments to dental plan members. 

For more information, visit https://www.dentalplans.com/

2. Cosmetic Dentistry Grant Programs

Cosmetic dentistry grants are special grants provided by the government to help certain qualifying people to pay for cosmetic dentistry procedures.

3. Donated Dental Services (DDS)

The Donated Dental Services (DDS) program is a means by which dentists provide free dental treatment to vulnerable people who cannot afford necessary treatment or get public aid. 

4. Care Credit

Care Credit is a healthcare credit card that can be used to pay for out-of-pocket expenses not covered by medical insurance. Care Credit also offers special financing options that you may not be able to get with other cards.

Care Credit can be used for preventative, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry services. 

5. Give Back a Smile Program

The Give Back a Smile Program is a means by which volunteer cosmetic dentists donate their time and services to restore the smiles of domestic abuse victims. It is sponsored by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and has been used to restore the smiles of over 1,800 people to date.

6. United Way (Free Dental Clinics) 

United Way is a network of nonprofit fundraising affiliates that connects low-income or otherwise qualifying patients with free or low-cost dental care.

7. Medicare, Medicaid & CHIP 

Medicare is a health insurance program for people who are either 65 years and older or who have specific disabilities. 

Medicaid is a state-run program that provides dental benefits to eligible individuals and families. 

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides medical coverage and dental services to children up to age 19 who qualify.3

8. Discount Treatment at Dental Schools 

Dental schools can be a good option to find quality, reduced-cost dental treatment from dental students who are being supervised by experienced dentists. 

9. Discount Treatment at Dental Hygiene Schools

Dental hygiene schools also offer supervised, low-cost preventive dental care as part of the training experience for dental hygienists.

10. Public Dental Clinics 

Public dental clinics are community-based and patient-directed organizations that deliver comprehensive, culturally competent, high-quality primary health care services to vulnerable individuals and families. These clinics, funded by the Health Resources & Services Organization, serve 1 out of 11 people in the United States.

11. Clinical Trials

Medical researchers often seek volunteers with specific dental conditions to participate in research studies, also known as clinical trials. During a clinical trial, qualifying participants receive limited free or low-cost dental treatment for the condition being researched.

Can You Get a Loan for Dental Work? 

Dental loans are loans that can be used to pay for dental procedures. Dental loans can fund any type of dental work including dental emergencies, planned cosmetic work, or other procedures.4,5

Other Ways to Get Help with Dental Costs

  • 0% APR Credit Cards — Many credit cards offer an introductory 0% APR period on purchases, so for a certain number of months you won’t pay any interest on the charges that you make.
  • Negotiate your bill — You may be able to negotiate the total cost of treatment with your dentist before committing. If you’re uninsured, some dentists may offer a discount to help their uninsured patients afford the cost of care.
  • Ask your community for help —  If you’re struggling to find financing for your dental care, your friends and family may be able to lend you money or donate to a crowdfunding campaign to pay for your dental work.6
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