Preventive dental care can stave off painful problems

February 14, 2014

In general, you should only visit the emergency room (ER) if you’re having a true medical emergency, such as chest pain or pressure, difficulty breathing, uncontrolled bleeding, persistent vomiting, or a severe allergic reaction. But sometimes people show up at the ER for another reason: dental problems. According to a recent National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, in 2010 more than 2.1 million people (most of whom were adults) went to the ER because of dental pain.

It’s never a good idea to visit the emergency room for dental problems. Very few hospitals are equipped to handle dental issues—they may be able to prescribe an antibiotic to treat an infection or pain medication to help you feel a little better, but the underlying issue causing the discomfort won’t be fixed. Plus, emergency room visits can be very costly. And finally, remember that when ER staff is trying to treat people who come in with preventable problems like cavity pain, it takes medical staff and resources away from patients who truly need immediate medical care.

Instead of waiting until a dental issue becomes incredibly painful, focus on making sure you and your family regularly get proper preventive dental care. Many routine problems like cavities and abscesses can be prevented by regular dental checkups and cleanings. If you don’t have dental insurance, there are still ways you can get preventive dental care. These free and low-cost resources can help.

Need dental care?

  • National Association of Free Clinics: The National Association of Free Clinics is the only national non-profit that provides a range of medical, dental, pharmacy, and/or behavioral health services to economically disadvantaged individuals who are predominately uninsured. Their website allows you to search by state to find free clinics in your area. Click here to check out The National Association of Free Clinics.
  • Bureau of Primary Healthcare: This is a searchable database of clinics that provide low-cost or free care (including dental care) to people without health insurance. Users can enter an address or zip code, or state and county for a list of clinics in their area. Click here to check out The Bureau of Primary Healthcare.
  • Local dental schools: Dental schools have clinics that allow students to gain experience by providing treatment at reduced costs to the patients. Licensed dentists closely supervise students as they treat patients. Additionally, post-graduate clinics are also available at most schools and offer services for people who are seeking an endodontist, orthodontist, periodontist, oral surgeon, etc. The American Dental Association (ADA) offers a complete list of dental schools in your area.

Need a prescription for a dental issue?

  • CVS. Some pharmacies offer prescription memberships which provide the benefit of discounted prescription medications. Some may require a small annual fee. Call 888-616-2273 or visit
  •, Inc. is a free resource designed to help connect patients who can’t afford their prescription medications with patient assistance programs. We believe that medication should be affordable for all Americans, including low-income families and the uninsured, and our database features over 1000 programs that help make that possible. Call (888) 788-7921 or visit
  • Rite Aid.  Some pharmacies offer prescription memberships which provide the benefit of discounted prescription medications. Some may require a small annual fee. Call 800-748-3243 or visit
  • Walgreens. Some pharmacies offer prescription memberships which provide the benefit of discounted prescription medications. Some may require a small annual fee. Call 866-922-7312 or visit

For more tips on locating free or low-cost dental or medical care, visit


Take the Bite Out of Dental Costs

June 7, 2013

With so many medical costs on the rise, it’s no surprise the cost of dental care is rising, too. Having to pay hundreds of dollars for a root canal can be just as painful as the procedure itself. Even those who have dental insurance are feeling the effects of higher dental costs. Luckily, these useful tips may be able to help you “take a bite” out of the dentist’s bill:

Call your local dentists. Some dentist offices offer income-based fees. Try reaching out to offices that are affiliated with your city or county government. You can also check out the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) website,  to find federally-funded facilities that offer dental care at a reduced rate.

Go to college. Many colleges and universities that have dental programs offer clinics that provide care at a reduced cost.  Typically these clinics are run by senior dental students who are supervised by licensed professionals. The cost savings could be substantial! For example, x-rays and a crown at a dentist’s office might be priced around $1000, but you may pay only half of that for the same procedures at a dental school clinic.  And if you’re looking for a less intensive appointment, such as  a simple cleaning, look to local colleges that offer dental hygiene training programs where supervised students can perform cleanings at a lower price.

Look for free dental clinics. These clinics are usually run by churches or local non-profit agencies.  They may ask for a donation, but will perform most basic procedures for free. Check out your local United Way chapter to direct you to free or low-cost dental resources:

Enroll in clinical trials. Clinical trials can be for treatment, prevention, diagnostic, or screening. In many cases, trials require that you have a specific oral, dental, or craniofacial condition.  The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research sometimes conduct clinical trials regarding dental conditions. Researchers may provide clinical trial participants with free or low-cost dental care for the condition they are studying. Visit to look into clinical trial opportunities.

Seek out free dental care for children. TheChildren’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) helps uninsured children under age 19 obtain dental care. Be aware that dental services covered under CHIP vary from state to state. Medicaid is another state-run program that can offer low-cost dental services to children and families.

To learn more about how to find affordable healthcare coverage, check out The Healthcare Survival Guide: Cost-Saving Options for the Suddenly Unemployed and Anyone Else Who Wants to Save Money. The book, written by Health Advocate cofounders Martin Rosen and Abbie Leibowitz, M.D., lists a wide variety of resources to help those who have lost their employer-paid healthcare—or those who want to reduce costs—find affordable healthcare coverage and health services. You can download the book for free at

Find low-cost or free dental services nationwide

January 21, 2011

In today’s economic climate, most people find it hard enough to afford keeping up with their basic medical care, let alone dental care.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Besides the obvious cosmetic benefits of taking care of your teeth, the American Heart Association says that keeping good dental hygiene could reduce your risk of heart disease.

Fortunately, the folks at have put together an expansive database of free and low-cost dental services throughout the United States. The site features loads of information on clinics, fairs, and other places to get cheap dental care in Minnesota, Northern California, and Indiana; North Carolina, Michigan, and Maryland; Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Hamphire; as well as New Jersey and virtually anywhere else in America.  The site is updated continuously, so if you don’t see a clinic or event in your area, check back soon.

Are you having trouble paying for dental care? Would WorlDental be helpful to you? Leave us a comment!