7 Simple Ways to Find Financial Help with Dental Costs

A dentist reviews charts with a patient
| 7 min read Financial Assistance

No one should ever have to hide their smile. Yet this is an unfortunate reality for millions of people who need expensive or unexpected dental treatment. In fact, a whopping 13% of working-age adults skip the dentist due to cost. If you don’t know how to ask for help with dental costs, don’t lose hope. Below, we uncover three surprising resources to help you regain your confident smile without the financial burden.

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A breakdown of common dental costs 

Depending on the type of dental work you need, the cost of visiting a dentist can vary greatly. Let’s break down typical out-of-pocket dental costs, from a routine visit all the way to an expensive surgery:

  • Routine teeth cleaning costs between $75 to $200 without insurance. With x-rays, this cost can increase to over $300.
  • Chronic periodontitis—gum disease that’s more advanced than gingivitis—affects roughly half of all U.S. adults over 30. Treatment requires scaling and root planing, a deep-cleaning procedure that ranges from $500 to $4,000, depending on the extent of the damage.
  • Dental fillings are required when a cavity develops, something that happens to an estimated 92% of adults. Dental fillings cost range from $75 to $200, depending on the location of the tooth and type of material used.
  • A root canal and crown is a common procedure necessary to repair a tooth infected at the root. The average cost of this procedure ranges from $2,050 to $2,614.
  • Tooth extraction costs between $75 to $4,000, depending on whether the tooth is erupted or impacted and if surgical anesthesia is used. This procedure is necessary for certain damaged or infected teeth.
  • The full cost of a dental implant—a surgical procedure that requires an artificial root to anchor a replacement tooth—ranges from $1,750 to $8,270 per tooth.
  • The average cost of braces is $5,500, though it can range from $3,000 to $10,000 depending on whether you choose metal, ceramic, or clear plastic braces.

Read more: Spotlight Statistics About Medical Debt You Need to Know

7 surprising ways to get help with dental bills

Everyone should have access to the dental treatment they need, and figuring out how to pay for dental work doesn’t need to be stressful. From nonprofits that help with dental costs for seniors to low-cost dental clinics, these seven options can help you for loved ones find financial assistance for dental work.

1. Dental schools

Government dental assistance options are available to both dental schools and public health clinics, which allows them to offer discounted services to those in need.

Check the list of accredited dental schools compiled by the American Dental Education Association to find one in your area. Dental work is performed by a student—under the supervision of a licensed dentist—for a fraction of the cost.

2. Dental grants

Dental grants may partially or fully cover the cost of expensive medical treatments. While these grants can be life-changing, many come with a list of qualifications that must be met. Waiting periods are also common, and can sometimes last many months. Make sure to read the application requirements thoroughly to see if you are eligible.

  • For women survivors of domestic abuse, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry aims to give back through dental work. Their Give Back a Smile program is available in the US and Canada, and completely covers the cost of repairing dental injuries for those that qualify.
  • For dental implant financial assistance, consider applying for a grant through the Cosmetic Dentistry Grants Program. In order to qualify, a dental exam must show that your mouth can support the implants requested.

3. Online fundraising

Thousands of people have turned to crowdfunding as a great way to find financial relief for unexpected dental costs. There is no shame in asking those who care about you for help—and in fact, your story can be so powerful that even strangers may be moved to donate. Crowdfunding also means you receive support from your community, which can be priceless in a time of need. Do research on the best crowdfunding sites to determine one that works for your needs. Consider using online fundraising to help cover the cost of expensive dental work, and use the following medical fundraising tips to make sure your fundraiser is a success:

  • Host a fundraising event, like a barbeque or car wash, as a way to bring family and friends together around your cause. Events like these provide a great opportunity to ask for donations in a relaxed environment.
  • Build a community around your fundraiser, and consider sharing on social media to increase donations.
  • Regularly update your fundraiser, and follow up with donors to let them know how their donation made an impact.

4. Public dental clinics

The Health Resources and Services Administration provides access to a network of dental clinics for those who qualify. Income restrictions apply, and not all dental services may be offered in your location. Another resource for finding a low-cost clinic near you is through the NeedyMeds dental clinic database, containing information for over 4,000 clinics—some of which are funded by state or federal grants.

5. Charities offering financial assistance 

There are also many charities that offer financial assistance, including help with braces costs, for dental work that insurance may not always cover. Below are a few organizations that may be able to help.

Smiles Change Lives

Established in 1997, this organization focuses on offering financial assistance for braces to youth in need. There are certain eligibility requirements that must be met in addition to possible lengthy wait times, and the person receiving braces must be under 21 years old. While the charity does not completely cover the cost of braces, the expense is significantly reduced.

Dental Lifeline Network

If you need financial assistance for dentures, the Dental Lifeline Network can help. The nonprofit offers help with denture costs to the elderly, disabled, and those with a medical need. Clinics are available in every state, and services are comprehensive.

Read more: Financial Help for Seniors: 25 Resources

United Way

United Way has hundreds of locations in the US and around the world, many of which offer free dental clinics. Contact your local office and see what programs are available in your area. Some of these dental clinics are also mobile, which makes visiting a dentist that much easier.

6. Dental financing

If you need to finance the cost of dental work, there are a few options available. Keep in mind that these options require an application with some restrictions, and that interest will add up if the balance is not paid in full by the due date.

  • Care Credit offers dental financing for just about any type of dental work you or your family may need. Interest-free financing is offered for a minimum of six months for new accounts, though after the promotional period, interest rates can be high—up to 27%.
  • A less expensive alternative to dental insurance, dental discount cards work by collecting an annual membership fee in exchange for reduced rates at participating dentists.

7. Medical tourism 

More and more Americans are finding that it’s actually far less expensive to travel abroad for a medical procedure than to get the same procedure in the US. This practice, known as medical tourism, can be beneficial if you’re willing to pay the upfront costs of travel to save more on the dental procedure in the long run. A few of the top medical tourism countries are Canada, the UK, Singapore, Israel, Germany, India, Colombia, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.

Fundraising can help offset dental costs

If you need help paying for dental treatment, you’re not alone.  Plenty of people have turned to fundraising as a way to help with dental costs, as there are no application deadlines or qualifications, no waiting periods to receive help, and you don’t have to pay the money back. Sign up and create your dental fundraiser today, so you can stop worrying about your smile and enjoy life to the fullest.

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