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Dental financial assistance programs can make your oral care more affordable if you do not have insurance or the money to fix your teeth. However, it is not easy finding the right resources.
The federal government does not provide grants to individuals for personal use. Charitable organizations have limited funding and strict qualifying criteria. Free services are rare or come with strings attached.
You need to think differently in order to find help paying for major dental work with no money. The opportunities do not come with a clear label.
- Private programs offering low-cost care and funding support
- Free dental care: implants, insurance, and clinics
- Grants for low-income adults: single mothers, veterans, the disabled, and recovering addicts
Private Dental Cost Assistance Programs
Several private programs offer patients financial assistance with major dental work costs. People without insurance have to look under every rock. No single resource provides a complete solution for lowering oral care expenses.
Survey these private options that offer help paying for treatment or reducing expenses.
Request a loan to fund emergency dental work here. This private lending program can provide patients with quick access to cash in order to help with expensive initial treatment costs.
This is not free money that you never have to repay. Be prepared with the needed documentation to improve your chances of approval.
- Employer name, address, and contact information
- Driver license number
- Bank account and routing numbers
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) are an employee benefit program that offers low-cost dental work. Patients with access through an employer can use pre-tax money to pay for any eligible oral care expenses using their FSA debit card.
An FSA has two big advantages for patients who make contribution elections each year.
- People with bad credit get an employer loan with no credit checks. The employer must fund any qualifying expenses immediately. Employees have up to 52 weeks to fund the account.
- Pre-tax payroll contributions reduce dentistry costs based on three marginal tax rates.
- Federal rate (10% to 37%)
- State rate (0% to 13% in California)
- FICA rate (1.45% to 7.65%)
Dental plans with no waiting period are discount schemes that provide immediate cost assistance with oral care needs. Members pay a small monthly fee to join the plan and often enjoy lower prices on services from participating providers.
Buying insurance rarely offers any short-term relief. The companies will always include exclusion language for pre-existing conditions and/or have waiting periods for specified services.
Therefore, these discount plans are the only option for most people seeking savings.
Dental braces financial assistance programs should not be necessary. The need to straighten crooked teeth comes as a surprise only rarely. Patients needing orthodontia have at least two options for getting an insurance company to pick up the majority of costs based on the amount of advance notice.
- Sudden: health insurance covers medically necessary orthodontia after an accident
- Planned: insurance riders with waiting periods reduce costs for braces
Free Dental Care Services
Free dental care services are a popular option for many patients seeking financial help with oral care costs. However, there are many practical limits to this approach. It is very hard to find practitioners willing to do pro bono work.
The saying, “there is no such thing as a free lunch,” become iconic for a reason.
Free dental implant programs do not cover the entire expense of this multi-step tooth replacement option. Do not be fooled by clinics or schools touting a no-cost option. The practitioners and/or students can donate their time and services. However, the patient still has remaining charges that are quite large.
- Computer Tomography Scan (CT) measures bone depth, width, and density
- Third-party labs makeup temporary crowns for the 4 to 9-month healing phase
- Outside labs create permanent abutments, bridges, and dentures
Free dental insurance does not exist in the wild. All private insurance companies charge premiums to all members in exchange for claims payments for future oral care. However, some patients can purchase or obtain coverage at no extra cost to them.
Here are two options for insurance with zero additional premium spending.
- Medicaid covers some dental care for low-income adults. The benefits vary by state and procedure category. Many people pay nothing for this coverage.
- Private health insurance must cover dental services for children. Parents can purchase a dual coverage parent/child plan via their state exchange. Subsidies limit the total premiums to 10% of household income for some families.
Free dental clinics offer gratis oral care services to target populations. The trick is finding a clinic near you that has enough funding and will accept you into the program. Each has unique criteria.
Dental schools often operate free clinics in surrounding communities. They can serve a bigger population since large universities provide the funding, and they have a steady stream of students needing practice patients. Find a state-by-state list of accredited programs here.
Many charitable and non-profit organizations may help specific groups (senior citizens, disabled veterans, etc.) via free dental clinics. Keep in mind that non-profits depend on the generosity of their donor bases, so their ability to support may be limited to a small number of patients.
- Toothwisdom.org: points older adults to possible resources
- Dentistry From the Heart: makes available free treatment during specialized fairs
- Donated Dental Services (DDS): offers free services to people with disabilities
Government Dental Grants for Low-Income Adults
Direct government dental grants for low-income adults do not exist. The federal government awards the grants to universities, state agencies, and non-profit organizations – not to individuals or low-income adults with personal needs.
The federal money does trickle down to state government agencies and non-profit organizations. In turn, they offer programs to help specified vulnerable populations with a variety of needs – which sometimes includes oral care.
Single mother dental grants via a government entity simply do not exist – for the reasons explained above. However, many other public programs target low-income adults and families. They help with other expenses such as housing, nutrition, and healthcare. Solo parents often meet federal poverty guidelines due to the challenges of raising children alone.
Private companies do offer single mother dental grants. However, they support very few people. Several clever marketing companies award one free makeover to one unmarried mother once per year. This enables them to drive search engine traffic from people needing oral care – who might then buy one of their discount plans.
Direct government dental grants for recovering addicts also do not exist – once again for reasons already noted above. However, people with former addictions have a roadmap they can follow to find a local endpoint.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. SAMHSA publishes a grant awards archive that enables individuals in recovery to identify local programs that received funding. The local entities may not offer oral care services.
Recovering addicts with “meth mouth” and other conditions brought on by past drug use also have two private options for help restoring the extensive damage to their smile.
- Private health insurance may pay for medically necessary tooth extractions and surgeries
- Dental insurance with high annual maximums make the remaining work more affordable
Direct government dental grants for veterans also do not exist – as already noted above. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs does provide free and low-cost oral care. The men and women who served our country should start with this resource.
- Service-connected disability
- Former prisoner of war
- Aggravating a service-connected medical condition
- Complicating a medical condition currently under treatment
- Engaged in vocational rehab
- Homeless and receiving care
Many charitable organizations target veterans for financial help with a variety of living costs. Look for non-profits in your local area to fill gaps left by the Department of Veteran Affairs program. Once again, they may have limited resources as they rely on donations.
Direct government dental grants for disabled adults also do not exist – once again for the same reasons already noted. In addition, people unable to work face an additional challenge paying for oral care when they transition from Medicaid to Medicare.
- Medicaid covers some dental services in many states. Disabled adults receiving SSI or in their first two years of receiving SSD qualify for Medicaid.
- Medicare only covers medically necessary dental work (resulting from accidents or covered diseases). Disabled adults enroll in Medicare after receiving SSD for two years.
Look for charitable organizations that serve disabled adults in your area. Keep in mind that non-profits rely on donations of time and/or money. Therefore, they can help very few people with costs.
Supplemental insurance fills gaps in Medicare coverage. However, the government does not fund any portion of the premium costs. Therefore, they make sense for disabled adults with extensive treatment plans only.