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Cost is the main reason why people in the United States do not get regular dental care. Some people cannot afford the out-of-pocket payments required for dental care or do not have public or private dental insurance.
Dental services are expensive. A routine visit for cleaning and an exam can set you back $200. If you have cavities that need to be filled, that'll cost you several hundred dollars. Braces and dentures can cost thousands.
For the average worker, this is a lot of money. For someone on a limited income, retired, out of work, or has no dental coverage, dental care takes the backseat.
However, cheap or free dental care is available. With thorough research, patience, and a bit of luck, low-cost or free dental work is possible.
Dental schools are good sources of quality, low-cost dental treatment. Most dental schools run clinics where dental students provide dental services at reduced prices. This allows students to gain experience in treating patients.
Dental schools offer dental treatment at half the price — or even less. Experienced and licensed dentists closely supervise the treatments, so appointments take longer than usual. This is because the supervisors have to check every step as the dental student works on you.
There are advantages and disadvantages associated with low-cost dental services. It's important to know what you're getting into so you get to make an informed decision.
Pros of dental schools:
Cons of dental schools:
To become a patient at a dental school, you must first undergo a screening procedure. This is to determine your suitability as a patient and if you will be able to teach dental students what they need to know for their practice.
Your needs should match with the student's training needs. If you are qualified, then you become a patient. You will be assigned to a dental student, where you'll receive the low-cost (or free) dental procedure that you need.
Some dental schools charge a non-refundable fee for the screening process. Not all dental schools do this, so it's best for you to check beforehand if there are pre-treatment fees that you need to settle.
There are a lot of dental schools that offer dental services at reduced rates. The following groups of people qualify for cheap services at dental schools:
Most states offer low-cost dental services via dental schools. These programs are full of dental students who need hands-on training before graduation.
The cost usually depends on the type of program that you choose. Most programs offer pre-doctoral, advanced, and allied dental education programs.
The following is a list of dental schools that offer low-cost dental work, organized by state. These are all accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA):
University of Alabama School of Dentistry at UAB
1530 3rd Avenue S.
A.T. Still University Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health
5850 East Still Circle
Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine- Arizona
19555 North 59th Avenue
California Northstate University College of Dental Medicine
9700 West Taron Drive
Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of the University of Southern California
925 W. 34th Street
Loma Linda University School of Dentistry
11092 Anderson St.
University of California at Los Angeles School of Dentistry
Center for Health Science
10833 Le Conte Ave
University of California at San Francisco School of Dentistry
513 Parnassus Ave
University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry
155 5th Street
Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine
College of Dental Medicine
Western University of Health Sciences
309 E. Second Street
University of Colorado Denver School of Dental Medicine
School of Dental Medicine; Lazzara Center for Oral-Facial Health
13065 E. 17th Avenue
Mail Stop F831
University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine
263 Farmington Avenue
LECOM College of Dental Medicine
4800 Lakewood Ranch Boulevard
Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine
3200 S. University Drive
University of Florida College of Dentistry
1600 SW Archer Rd.
P.O. Box 100405
The Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University
1430 John Wesley Gilbert Drive
Rm AD 5202
Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine- Illinois
555 31st Street
Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine
2800 College Avenue
University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry
801 South Paulina Street
Suite # 102
Indiana University School of Dentistry
500 West University Blvd., UH-3145
University of Iowa College of Dentistry
100 Dental Science Bldg.
University of Kentucky College of Dentistry
800 Rose Street
D 136 UKMC
University of Louisville School of Dentistry
501 S. Preston Street
Louisiana State University School of Dentistry
1100 Florida Avenue
University of New England College of Dental Medicine
Westbrook College Campus
716 Stevens Avenue
University of Maryland School of Dentistry
650 W. Baltimore Street
Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine
100 East Newton Street
Harvard University School of Dental Medicine
188 Longwood Avenue
Tufts University School of Dental Medicine
One Kneeland Street
University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry
2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
University of Michigan School of Dentistry
1011 N. University Ave.
University of Minnesota School of Dentistry
Room 15-209 Moos Tower
515 S.E. Delaware Street
University of Mississippi School of Dentistry
2500 North State Street
Missouri School of Dentistry and Oral Health
Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health
800 W. Jefferson St.
University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry
650 East 25th Street
Creighton University School of Dentistry
2109 Cuming Street
University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry
40th & Holdrege Streets
University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine
Shadow Lane Campus
1001 Shadow Lane
Rutgers School of Dental Medicine
110 Bergen St.;
Columbia University College of Dental Medicine
630 West 168th Street
PH7 East Room 122
New York University College of Dentistry
345 East 24th Street
Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine
Health Sciences Center;
154 Rockland Hall
Touro College of Dental Medicine at New York Medical College (NYMC)
19 Skyline Drive
University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine
325 Squire Hall;
3435 Main Street
East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine
1851 MacGregor Downs Road, Mail Stop 701
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Adams School of Dentistry
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Koury Oral Health Sciences, Suite 1611
3/8 S. Columbia Street, Campus Box 7450
Case Western Reserve Univ. School of Dental Medicine
10900 Euclid Avenue
Ohio State University College of Dentistry
305 West 12th Avenue
University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry
1201 N. Stonewall Avenue
Oregon Health and Science University School of Dentistry
2730 SW Moody Avenue
Temple University The Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry
3223 North Broad Street
University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine
240 South 40th Street;
Robert Shattner Center
University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine
3501 Terrace Street
Medical University of South Carolina James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine
173 Ashley Ave. MSC 507
PO Box 250507
Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry
1005 D.B. Todd Blvd.
University of Tennessee College of Dentistry
University of Tennessee Health Science Ctr;
875 Union Avenue
Texas A&M University College of Dentistry
3302 Gaston Avenue
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso
5001 El Paso Dr.
The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston
7500 Cambridge Street
UT Health San Antonio, School of Dentistry
7703 Floyd Curl Drive
Mail Code 7914
Roseman University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine
10920 S. Riverfront Park
University of Utah School of Dentistry
530 South Wakara Way
Salt Lake City
VCU School of Dentistry
P.O. Box 980566
520 North 12th Street
450 Lyons Building
University of Washington School of Dentistry
1959 NE Pacific Street, B-530
West Virginia University School of Dentistry
Robert C. Byrd Health Sci Ctr.;
1150 HSC North/Medical Center Drive;
PO Box 9400
Marquette University School of Dentistry
1801 W. Wisconsin Avenue
Aside from dental school clinics, there are other ways to get free or low-cost dental care:
These are clinics run by community health centers or by local or state health departments and are funded by taxpayers. They usually charge low, fixed prices or sliding fees depending on how much the patient can afford to pay.
These clinics provide dental services such as cleaning, exams, root canals, x-rays, crowns, fillings, and surgical tooth extraction.
Many faith-based groups, charities, and professional dental organizations organize free dental clinics. However, the waitlist can be quite long.
Also, they usually have requirements as to who can qualify for free dental services. They either have income cutoffs or are exclusive to people with disabilities or the elderly.
There are three federally-funded programs where you can get free or low-cost dental care: Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP.
These are less expensive alternatives to dental insurance and are available for individuals and families.
Also called dental discount plans, dental savings plans offer discounted rates for dental treatments and services provided by orthodontists, oral surgeons, and dentists within their network.
A monthly or annual fee (about $100 to $200 per year) is required to receive a 10 to 60 percent discount on dental care.
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