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Dental implants are an important part of restorative dentistry. If you’ve lost one or more teeth, there’s no higher-quality or longer-lasting replacement than a dental implant.
Unfortunately, dental implants can be expensive, costing between $1,000 and $5,000 per implant. Even with insurance, the price of a dental implant can make you put off a treatment you need to maintain your dental health.
Fortunately, there are some ways to get significantly discounted dental implants, such as having the procedure done at a dental school. It’s even possible to get free implants.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of these options. We’ll also talk about how to avoid scams that claim to provide grants for dental implants.
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You can try several potential avenues for free or lower-cost dental implants. Dental schools and clinical trials are likely to provide the most affordable option, but in some cases, government programs can help.
Dental schools often provide low-cost (and sometimes free) dental work. This is because dental students perform the procedures as part of their training. Depending on the school and your specific needs, you may be able to have dental services done by:
Look for dental schools in your area and inquire about what kinds of services they provide. In many cases, they provide basic information online. You’ll likely need to call for details and to make appointments.
Similarly, clinical trials can also be a way to get free implants. The researchers performing these trials need participants to help them test new methods or materials.
This option is harder to come by since there won’t always be a clinical trial in your area relevant to your needs. However, you can search for “clinical trials near me” or contact local universities.
The federal government may fund dental care for veterans and seniors, including dental implant treatment.
Although the criteria are strict, you may qualify for VA dental coverage if you’re a veteran. You’re most likely to be eligible if you are disabled and unable to work. You can learn more at the VA website.
If you’re over 55 and meet certain conditions, you may be eligible for covered treatment through the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). This coverage might be in addition to any Medicaid benefits you have. See their website for more information.
Unfortunately, there are no government grants specifically for dental implants. Some organizations may claim online that they offer free dental implant services or discounts as part of a federal program. But this is likely false unless the organization is a federal HRSA Health Center.
However, in some cases, federal programs may assist with implants:
Medicaid is a federal program that provides health insurance for low-income adults and children. However, even though Medicaid is set up by federal law, federal funding is partial, and individual states are in charge of their own Medicaid programs.
This means that Medicaid dental benefits will vary by state, and some state Medicaid programs don’t offer non-emergency dental services. Even in those states that offer dental assistance under Medicaid, it can be difficult to qualify for free dental implants.
Medicaid is more likely to cover dental implants if:
Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to many cases. Most people on Medicaid won’t get assistance with dental implants.
To know for sure, contact your local Medicaid office to find out what they will and won’t cover. If they offer dental coverage, you’ll have to talk to both the board and your dentist to determine if your dental implants qualify.
If you’re not already on Medicaid, you’ll have to be eligible in the first place to get any of the available benefits.
While finding free dental implants isn’t always possible, you can make them more affordable in several ways. From dental insurance to tax deductions, we’ll discuss these avenues below.
Some dental insurance plans provide partial coverage for dental implant procedures. While many insurance companies categorize implants as cosmetic, not all do.
While you’re unlikely to find full coverage for implants, insurance can sometimes cover as much as half the cost. If you only need to replace one or a few teeth, this may be a decisive factor in making it affordable.
You can shop online for dental insurance plans and compare what they cover. One insurance provider known to offer partial implant coverage is Delta Dental.
It’s best to avoid organizations claiming to offer dental implant grants. They tend to work by claiming to provide a discount through a participating dentist. And despite sometimes having the word “program” in their name, they are not government programs.
They start with a high initial price and then “discount” it to a price that may still be higher than what other dentists might charge. This allows them to make money while leading you to believe you’re getting a deal.
However, if you apply with one of these organizations, compare the final price you’re offered with those of other dentists in your area. Having multiple consultations can help you make an informed decision (see below).
Here are some additional tips for making dental implants more affordable:
Your best bet for finding free or reduced-cost implants is to look for dental schools or HRSA Health Centers in your area.
While pro bono work isn’t always available, you may be able to get a significantly more affordable price.
In short, probably not. The Cosmetic Dentistry Grants “program” and similar organizations with “Dental Grant” in their name are unlikely to save you money. They tend to work by referring you to a dentist who charges a very high price, then using the “grant” to discount that price.
The final price is often higher than what another dentist might charge, allowing the “grant” provider to make money while you still pay more than necessary.
If you qualify for Medicaid, PACE, or VA dental coverage, start there when looking for help with implant costs. However, it can be hard to qualify for free dental implants.
Other resources may be available depending on your area, such as nearby dental schools that charge a lower rate for their students to perform the procedure.
Unlike dentures, dental implants can last a lifetime, making them the best way to replace missing teeth. However, their high upfront cost can make them difficult for many to afford.
This can make high-quality bridges (fixed partial dentures) a better option for some people, at least in the short-to-medium term. We have a full comparison of implants vs. bridges here.
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Dental implants are the best long-term solution for missing teeth, but their price can make them unaffordable for many people.
If you’re on a low income or meet certain criteria, you may be able to get affordable treatment through a dental school, government assistance, or a clinical trial. Insurance may also provide partial coverage.
Talk to your dentist about your options, and consider comparing quotes from different dentists. If you’re eligible, you can also talk to local dental schools and explore government assistance. But be wary of organizations that claim to offer dental implant grants.
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