10 Free and Low Cost Dental Care Options for Seniors
|Written by Chris Hawkins|
SeniorLiving.Org Expert on Senior Care & Assisted Living
How essential is having a healthy mouth to your physical health? According to medical experts, it would be very difficult to be in peak physical condition if your oral health isn’t what it’s supposed to be. In effect, you should be thinking of your mouth as the “gateway to wellness.” Recent studies have shown that the correlation between oral health and overall body health is closer than what was previously believed.
If you read our article, "The Importance of Senior Dental Care", you’ll know how important good oral health is to your overall quality of life. You’ll be able to chew food properly and without pain. You’ll taste what you’re chewing. You’ll reduce the likelihood of developing other health issues. And you’ll save money in the long run.
For seniors, maintaining oral health becomes doubly important. This is because as you age, you become more susceptible to diseases. Of course, it would be ideal to have regular dental check-ups and have yourself treated whenever an oral issue arises. But access to regular dental care is often difficult for seniors. Medicare doesn’t cover it. Medicaid coverage is limited. Out-of-pocket expenses can be prohibitive to those on a fixed income.
Fortunately, there are organizations that can help. Here are 10 free or low cost dental care options for seniors:
1) The first place you should start is the toothwisdom.org, a site dedicated to health resources for older adults. Aside from the informative articles you can find on the site, you can also make use of the care locator tool, which will direct you to where you can find low-cost dental care in your area. Click on your state here and you’ll find a list of excellent resources.
The site is run by Oral Health America (OHA), “a national nonprofit based in Chicago that is dedicated to changing lives by connecting communities with resources to increase access to care, education, and advocacy for all Americans, especially those most vulnerable.”
2) With Eldercare Locator, a service of the Administration on Aging, you can search by state or by service (health, transportation, legal, etc.). Speak with an information specialist: 1-800-677-1116. If you have more questions, you can also make use of the chat window where an Information Specialist is available from Monday to Friday between 9 AM to 8 PM EST.
3) 2-1-1 Information and Referral Search is sponsored by the United Way and can connect you to services in your area. Simply dial 211. The number will connect you to a trained professional who will gladly answer your queries or direct you the appropriate agency or organization that can provide help.
4) PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) is a Medicare and Medicaid program that “helps people meet their health care needs in the community…” This healthcare can include dentistry. To avail of PACE, you need to be at least 55 years old, a resident in the area where the services are offered and deemed eligible for nursing home care.
5) The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) supports federally-funded health centers for those with no insurance or limited income. Many offer sliding scale (based on what you can afford) payments. Visit the site or call 1–888–275–4772.
6) The Dental Life Network (formerly the National Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped) provides “access to comprehensive dental services for people with disabilities or who are elderly or medically at-risk.” Its flagship program, Donated Dental Services or DDS, has a nationwide network of 17,000 volunteer dentists and 3,700 dental laboratories; all offering dental treatments free of charge. To find out if you qualify as a beneficiary, you can visit their website or call 303-534-5360.
7) The non-profit Dentistry From The Heart (DFTH) provides “free dental care to those in need.” Volunteer dentists and hygienists donate their time for events around the country. Due to the number of patients serviced in every event, treatments only include cleaning, filling, and extraction. Find events here.
8) Check out Freemedicalcamps.com to locate free or inexpensive dental care.
9) Dental schools are an option for good low-cost care as many have clinics where students get experience working on patients. The ADA’s website has a listing of schools by state. Also try dental hygiene schools for preventative care.
10) The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics is a non-profit that seeks to “broaden access to affordable health care for the medically underserved.” In keeping with its belief that access to health care is a right and not a privilege, the NAFCC ensures that the poor and uninsured can still avail of medical and dental services. The organization’s noble goal is accomplished by 1,200 clinics found all over the country. You can search for free care from their homepage or call 1-703-647-7427.
Updated: Oct 30, 2013
Comments Comments... Read them below.
|Kathy Schuler On Jan 24, 2015
I went through a plan similar to #6, Maryland Foundation for Dentistry for the Disabled. Everything was free. I wish I had known the teeth of the dentures were made of plastic. I chew on my left side and both upper and lower teeth are now flat. I wish I had known this. Should have asked questions. You get what you pay for. In this case, bad dentures.
|grorge cooper On Jan 1, 2015
others have checked for afordable dental insurance and found none that will help without exorbiant fees so why bother to check ineed root canal and partials doesnt look good for me
|Bobby On Nov 8, 2014
Care for the sick, "if they can pay for it".
|Esther maddox On Nov 1, 2014
I have been looking for free dental care for hours on theputor .it seen everywhere u go there is some catch to cause u not to qualify .I need two root canels and three crowns I have delta insurance my co-pay is $2000 and I have to pay before the begin .we are a low ie couple On social security that is my monthly ie.now what do I do .live in Southern California thanks
|Lana Long On Sep 25, 2014
I have been on this computer for hours and still do not have any alternative to affordable dental care. Every number I call says they offer no special senior care and very little, if any discounts for dental care. Why is this so hard to navigate. In a large city like Fayetteville, NC, there has to be at least one dentist who would do this for a needy senior and yet all I call could care less. That also includes AARP. I am a member of AARP and have yet to get any benefit from them. Aren't they the ones we are suppose to turn to for help? I guess not. I simply have a bonding which has cracked and broken for the fourth time which was done by the same dentist whom I paid. Now not only is it broken - but it appears there are tiny cavities under the bonding. How does that happen when a certified dentist did the work. Can't go back there for that reason and for money reasons. I don't believe there is any real help for seniors - not really. It's not that I haven't tried and made mega calls - just not help. Thanks for trying though..
|Brent Kandarian On Jul 23, 2014
Because we all know that dental issues can be very expensive, and invasive surgeries for Denture issues are expensive and troublesome, we have developed a low cost loose denture alternative. Check out StabilDent for more information.
|Karen E. Tracy On Jul 12, 2014
You are doing GOD's work...You came to fulfill your purpose...Thank you...
|Joe On Jun 14, 2014
Great site! I am a 67 senior with no dental insurance. Hope I can find a dentist who can help me.
|harold dobbins On Jun 9, 2014
i am a low ie homeless senior i would like help locate an affordble apt in the city of irvine or huntington beach
|Stan Keller On May 14, 2014
We're in the process of checking out the various resources available to us, but without this website, it would have been much harder to find the information.