What do you do when you have no dental insurance and you need dental care?
According to US News and World Report, 40% of Americans go without dental insurance, a percentage significantly higher than the share of Americans without health insurance. Many of the people who have no dental insurance go without simply because they don’t know their options. There are steps you can take to ensure you have access to dental care when you need it - with or without insurance.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention lists enrollment in a dental plan as the leading indicator of one’s ability to access dental care. Most people who forego dental treatment do so because they have don’t have dental insurance, and they do not believe they should even bother going to the dentist without insurance. After all, going to the dentist is expensive, or so they think.
The problem is too many people without dental coverage often delay preventative treatments, even procedures as straightforward as cleanings and x-rays. This delay can allow existing dental problems to worsen and develop into serious dental health problems like cavities, gum disease, and even tooth loss.
Having no dental insurance does not mean you can’t see a dentist. It may be necessary for you to make an appointment to see your dentist without insurance just to get recommendations for better oral hygiene and the types of preventative treatments patients get during regular dental visits. Having access to an affordable dentist can make it financially possible to have essential oral surgery procedures like wisdom teeth removal.
Dental emergencies and chronic dental problems happen. If you are one of the 2 in 5 Americans who currently have no dental insurance, you have several avenues you can pursue to get essential dental treatments after you've found your emergency dentist.
There are thousands of dentists and qualified dental specialists who offer payment plans specifically designed for people who need to supplement their dental insurance, or who have no dental insurance at all.
Financing is an affordable alternative to making an upfront lump-sum payment. No-fee financing allows you to pay for your dental services over time without incurring interest charges.
Patient financing has some advantages over employer-sponsored dental plans, including the ability to pay for preexisting conditions and elective cosmetic dentistry procedures. Applications for dental payment plans are available at participating dentists. Like any creditor, third-party financing is credit-based, so if you have challenged credit, you may need a cosigner to qualify for financing.
Clinics that are affiliated with dental schools are a great source of quality, low-cost dentistry and orthodontic treatment. Dental students actually provide the dental services but do so under the guidance and direct supervision of senior licensed dentists. Many dental hygiene schools provide preventive treatments like prophylaxis at little or no cost.
Researchers are always looking for people who are willing to participate in studies. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) is one such organization that looks for volunteers with specific dental, oral, and craniofacial conditions for clinical trials. Individuals who qualify for one of the programs may receive limited free or reduced-cost dental treatment for the condition under study.
Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and state-run agencies like Denti-Cal in California provide coverage for economically-challenged individuals who have o dental insurance. Medicaid provides health and dental coverage for children, adults under the age of 21, and pregnant women. CHIP coverage includes dental services for participants under the age of 19. Those over 21 typically qualify for emergency dental services only.
A large number of dentists, oral surgeons and dental hygienists volunteer their time and services at free clinics run by dental charities. While resources for charitable organizations are typically limited, it is worth it for anyone who has no dental insurance to contact nonprofit dental organizations who may be able to provide services free of charge. Here are several dental charities to get you started
Nearly 100% of the time, getting preventative dental care can stop small dental issues from becoming big dental problems. If you have no dental insurance, use the strategies above to help protect your teeth and your overall health.