February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, so it’s an ideal time to remind families to make children’s dental health a priority. Making sure kids are brushing their teeth properly and also ensuring that they regularly visit the dentist for teeth cleaning are two ways to help kids maintain their oral health.
While dental care is often viewed as costly, which is one reason families don’t always properly keep up even with parents’ and children’s twice-yearly cleanings at the dentist, it doesn’t always have to be expensive. Check out these dental care resources that you can turn to when you’re uninsured or can’t afford to spend much on 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 visit The Bureau of Primary Healthcare.
Dental universities: Locate some dental universities near you. 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.
Clinical trials: The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research sometimes conducts clinical trials regarding dental conditions, and researchers may provide clinical trial participants with free or low-cost dental care for the condition they’re studying. Visit clinicaltrials.gov to find clinical trial opportunities.
The United Way: Your local United Way chapter may be able to direct you to free or low-cost dental resources. Find your local chapter by visiting LiveUnited.org.
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): They can help you find a federally-funded facility that offers dental care at a reduced rate, where you pay what you can afford. Click here to visit the HHS search tool.
Federally-funded programs: CHIP helps children up to age 19 who are without health insurance. In many cases, CHIP provides dental services to children who qualify. Dental services covered under this program vary from by state. Medicaid is also a state-run program and in some cases, individuals and families are eligible for dental services. Most states provide limited emergency dental services for people age 21 or over under Medicaid. But for most individuals under the age of 21, dental services are provided under Medicaid. Call 1-800-MEDICARE or go to http://www.cms.gov/
Your favorite dentist: Do you love the work your dentist does, but for whatever reason–loss of dental insurance, financial hardship, etc–you’re no longer able to afford them anymore? If you speak to your preferred dentist about your situation, they may be able to help. Many dentists perform procedures at no cost for underprivileged families–and if your dentist doesn’t, maybe they can refer you to a dentist that they recommend who does.
Properly maintaining your children’s dental health can help them have fewer dental problems in the future. In addition to making sure your child gets regular teeth cleanings by a dental professional, don’t forget to help them have healthy dental habits at home. Ensure that they brush their teeth at least twice daily, and make sure they don’t forget to floss. Having proper dental care and a healthy mouth are two great reasons for your kids to smile!