Are free clinics really free?
A free clinic is a dental care facility offering services to economically disadvantaged individuals for free or at a nominal cost. Care is provided free of cost to persons who have limited incomes, no dental insurance and do not qualify for Medicaid or Medicare.
How much is dental insurance a month?
On average, Americans pay about $360 a year, or between $15 and $50 a month, for dental insurance. Costs will vary depending on your state. Most plans come with a maximum annual benefit or coverage limit.
There are a variety of resources for dental care, including local health departments, medical insurance programs, dental schools, clinical trials and state and local resources.
Local Health Departments
The Bureau of Primary Health Care, a service of the Health Resources and Services Administration (1-888-Ask-HRSA), supports federally-funded community health centers across the country that provide free or reduced-cost health services, including dental care.
HRSA programs provide health care to people who are geographically isolated, economically or medically vulnerable. This includes pregnant women, mothers and their families, and those otherwise unable to access high quality health care. HRSA also supports access to health care(Medical, Dental, Vision) in rural areas, the training of health professionals, the distribution of providers to areas where they are needed most, and improvements in health care delivery.
- Primary Care/Health Centers
- Maternal and Child Health
- Dental Care or Dentures
Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administers three important federally-funded programs: Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Medicare : Dental
Medicare is a national United States health insurance program for senior U.S. Citizen who are 65 years and older or for people with specific disabilities. Basic Medicare comes in two parts: A and B.
Medicare dental coverage is limited; it does not cover most routine dental care or dentures.
Medicaid and CHIP : Dental Clinic
- Medicaid is a state-run program that provides medical benefits, and in some cases dental benefits, to eligible individuals and families.
- States set their own guidelines regarding who is eligible and what services are covered.
- Most states provide limited emergency dental services for people age 21 or over, while some offer comprehensive services.
- For most individuals under the age of 21, dental services are provided under Medicaid.
- CHIP helps children up to age 19 who are without health insurance.
- CHIP provides medical coverage and, in most cases, dental services to children who qualify.
- Dental services covered under this program vary from state to state
CMS (1-800-MEDICARE) can provide detailed information about each of these programs and refer you to state programs where applicable.
American Dental Association : Dental School
- Dental schools can be a good source of quality, reduced-cost dental treatment.
- Most of these teaching facilities have clinics that allow dental students to gain experience treating patients while providing care at a reduced cost.
- Experienced, licensed dentists closely supervise the students.
- Post-graduate and faculty clinics are also available at most schools.
Dental Hygiene Schools
- American Dental Hygienists Association may also offer supervised, low-cost preventive dental care as part of the training experience for dental hygienists
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
NIDCR - Trials:
- The National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) sometimes seeks volunteers with specific dental, oral, and craniofacial conditions to participate in research studies, also known as clinical trials.
- Researchers may provide study participants with limited free or low-cost dental treatment for the particular condition they are studying.
- To see if you qualify for any clinical trials being conducted at our Bethesda, Maryland, campus, you can call the Clinical Center's Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison Office at 1-800-411-1222.
State and Local Resources
Your state or local health department may know of programs in your area that offer free or reduced-cost dental care.