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Finding affordable or free dental cleanings can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are options available. Maybe you’re in between jobs or don’t have access to dental insurance. Sometimes money is just tight. However, it’s still possible to get quality care.
In general, free dental care focuses on individuals who are veterans, seniors, or children, as well as low-income and uninsured individuals. Some communities have programs for individuals with disabilities. Other organizations’ missions include helping populations that are considered underserved or vulnerable. This includes the unhoused, refugees, or other marginalized groups.
Availability of free dental cleanings varies depending on your location. Additionally, there may be limitations or restrictions on available services. It’s always best to contact the dental provider or organization directly to confirm their services. Plus, you can get more information on their eligibility requirements, and any potential costs involved.
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Volunteer dental programs with free services are available nationwide.
Some volunteer dental programs, such as Mission of Mercy or Give Kids A Smile, provide free dental cleanings to underserved populations. These include children, seniors, or individuals with limited access to dental care. Programs are held periodically throughout the year. You’ll want to check their schedules or websites for upcoming events regularly. America’s Dental Care Foundation has a list of ACDF-supported organizations holding free dental events.
Some dental schools offer free care under licensed dentist supervision.
To get free (or discounted) services, there’s usually a screening process. Overall, dental schools have strict guidelines and protocols in place to ensure the safety and well-being of their patients. The students who provide care are closely supervised by experienced dentists and dental hygienists. Additionally, dental schools use state-of-the-art equipment and technology to provide quality care.
While it may take longer to receive treatment at a dental school, the quality of care can be comparable to that of private practice. Moreover, patients can save money on the cost of their dental care. Visit the American Student Dental Association to find a dental school near you.
Search for free dental clinics in your area if you don’t have a pressing issue.
Free dental clinics are often run by charities or community groups. They provide a wide range of dental services at no cost to patients. These organizations typically rely on volunteer dentists, hygienists, and other healthcare professionals who donate their time and skills to help those in need.
For the most part, these clinics provide basic preventive care, such as cleanings and exams. In some cases they offer more complex treatments, such as fillings, extractions, and root canals. They’re an important resource for underserved communities and can help improve overall dental health and well-being. Here are two to check out:
- NeedyMeds.org has a searchable database for dental clinics in your area.
- Chicago Dental Society Foundation Clinic is staffed by volunteer dentists and dental assistants. Low-income residents of Illinois’ Cook, Lake, and DuPage counties are eligible.
If you’re a veteran, there are specific dental programs at no cost.
Veterans may qualify for free dental care through various channels, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), nonprofit organizations, and community-based dental clinics. These programs offer a range of services including dental screenings, cleanings, fillings, extractions, and denture services. Eligibility criteria varies depending on the specific program.
Here are a few organizations to check out:
- Aspen Dental holds an annual free dental care event for veterans called the Healthy Mouth Movement. Last year, their Day of Service was the first Saturday in June. We expect a similar timeframe for this year. Call 844-ASPEN-HMM to book an appointment.
- Everyone for Veterans has free dental care for veterans with disabilities, honorably discharged after one year of service, and experiencing financial hardships. Apply online or mail your application with documentation.
- The mission of Veterans Smile Day is to give back to those who serve our country. All services are free except for follow-up visits, and proof of veteran status is required.
There are some nonprofits that provide dental care at no cost.
The Dental Lifeline Network has a map of state programs with services for individuals who can’t afford dental care. To be eligible, you must either be over 65 years old, permanently disabled, or need medically necessary care.
Many of the programs have waitlists, and the services aren’t for cosmetic treatments or emergency services. Each state page includes program contact information with a name, phone number, and email address.
Check out these other options that hold dental events:
- Give Back a Smile: Care for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault
- America’s Dentists Care Foundation: Veterans, adults, and children are eligible
- The Chicago Dental Society Foundation: By clicking on “Solve This Problem For Me,” you’ll enter your phone number or email address to find a location near you.
Book your annual cleaning through your dental insurance.
If you have dental insurance, your plan may cover regular dental cleanings as part of your preventive care benefits. Sure, you pay for insurance, but you won’t have to pay out-of-pocket for your annual cleaning visit. Be sure to review your insurance policy or contact your insurance provider to understand your coverage. They’ll help you find in-network dentists who offer free or low-cost cleanings.