The economic crisis in America hasn’t only affected people’s wallets, it’s also affected their teeth. Studies show that poor oral health can be linked to a variety of serious medical problems including heart disease, but many Americans simply can’t afford the dental coverage and go without regular check-ups and cleanings. This means that more and more people wait until their dental problems turn into an emergency before they seek help. Waiting for an emergency can cause an even larger financial burden than routine dental care.
There are a number of emergency dental clinics and many accept patients on a sliding fee scale based on income, but the cost can still be more than a person can afford. This article will review dental care that is low-cost and some alternatives that are even free.
Low-Cost Dental Care
There are some low-cost ways for people to take care of their teeth and gums. The first way to accomplish this is to locate a local dental school. Many dental schools will offer procedures in their clinic to the public for a much lower price than a typical dentist will charge. A licensed dentist assists students with procedures so patients can be assured of their care. Patients may only end up paying for the licensed dentist’s time and the equipment that was used during the procedure.
Another cost-saving idea is to contact the local non-profit dental clinic. Many non-profit dental clinics offer sliding scale fees based on income. Many offer walk-in hours and appointments as well as emergency hours so that patients don’t have to wait for a dental emergency before they receive care. Patients can contact their local health department to determine if there is a clinic in the area that has a sliding fee scale and is accepting new patients.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services may also be able to assist people in locating low-cost dental care or clinics to meet their needs. The state dental association or ADA may also be a resource to locate a low-cost alternative.
Free Dental Care
Free dental care in the United States is difficult to locate. If the patient is a child or has a disability, Medicaid programs can assist with dental care although many times it is difficult to locate a dentist who is willing to accept this form of insurance. Contact the local Health and Human Services office to determine eligibility for Medicaid programs.
Some dentists participate in programs funded by grants in which they provide free dental care. A couple of these programs are called Volunteers in Health Care, Dentistry from the Heart. Dentistry from the Heart travels across the United States and provides free dental services to thousands of Americans. Please see their website for more information and for upcoming dates.
The United Way may also be contacted to locate free or low-cost dental care. Many local United Way branches offer one phone number which will link callers to a staff person who can refer them to the needed or desired service.
Dental Care is Important to Everyone’s Health
People are reminded time and time again to take care of their teeth. Everyone should brush and floss their teeth on a daily basis to maintain good oral health. Oral health can affect the entire body and is an important part of remaining healthy. Many lawmakers and public resources don’t seem to understand this fact as evidenced by the small number of low-cost or free dental clinics in the United States. It may be difficult to locate free or low-cost dental care in this country, but it is possible and well worth the time and effort.