Because dental care can be so expensive and most insurance—including Medicare—does not cover it, it is the number one health care service people skimp on. As a result, people put themselves at serious risk of gum disease, infections, dental pain and tooth loss. Dentists can remove plaque that builds up to reduce your likelihood of cavities and gum decay. Here are a few ways you may be able to get free or low-cost dental care.
- In some states, Medicaid covers some dental care. And, even if you are not enrolled in Medicaid, you may be eligible, depending upon your income, health care expenses and where you live. The Kaiser Family Foundation web site lists dental services Medicaid covers in each state.
- PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly). PACE programs generally provides dental care to program participants, along with an array of other important services. For more information, click here.
- Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC). Across the country, thousands of FQHCs, sometimes called Community Health Centers or CHCs, offer a wide range of free or low-cost health care services, including dental care. To find a health center near you, click here.
- Dental schools. Dental schools often offer free or low-cost dental care in their clinics. Find out whether there is a dental school in your community.
- Dental Lifeline Network offers comprehensive dental services for older adults in need. Its program, Donated Dental Services or DDS, has a nationwide network of 17,000 volunteer dentists and 3,700 dental laboratories, which provide dental treatments free of charge. To find out the number of the Dental Life coordinator in your state, visit Dental Lifeline.
- Dentistry from the Heart is a worldwide nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free dental care to those in need. The organization sponsors events in different parts of the country at which people can receive free dental services. For more information, visit the Dentistry from the Heart .
- NeedyMeds.org has a database of free, low-cost and sliding scale dental clinics throughout the country. You can enter your zip code to find the clinics nearest you.
Your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) may be able to point you to free or low-cost dental care in your community. To find your local AAA, call the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116.
Here’s more from Just Care:
- Congress must protect our community health centers
- Get the preventive care you need: Medicare pays for a wide range of services
- Government programs that lower your costs if you have Medicare
- Six things to know about your 2018 Social Security benefits
- Seven reasons commercial insurance cannot meet our health care needs