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Finding Low-Cost Dental Care

Photo of man's face and the words Finding Low-Cost Dental CareThe National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), one of the federal government's National Institutes of Health, leads the nation in conducting and supporting research to improve oral health. As a research organization, NIDCR does not provide financial assistance for dental treatment. The following resources, however, may help you find the dental care you need.

Clinical Trials

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 find out if there are any NIDCR clinical trials that you might fit into, go to "NIDCR Studies Seeking Patients." For a complete list of all federally funded clinical trials, visit ClinicalTrials.gov. 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.

Dental Schools

Dental schools External Web Site Policy 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 External Web Site Policy may also offer supervised, low-cost preventive dental care as part of the training experience for dental hygienists.

Bureau of Primary Health Care

The Bureau of Primary Health Care, a service of the Health Resources and Services Administration External Web Site Policy (1-888-Ask-HRSA), supports federally-funded community health centers across the country that provide free or reduced-cost health services, including dental care.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services External Web Site Policy (CMS) administers three important federally-funded programs: Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

  • Medicare External Web Site Policy is a health insurance program for people who are 65 years and older or for people with specific disabilities. Medicare dental coverage is limited; it does not cover most routine dental care or dentures. Visit http://www.medicare.gov/Coverage/Home.asp.
  • Medicaid External Web Site Policy 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 External Web Site Policy 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 External Web Site Policy (1-800-MEDICARE) can provide detailed information about each of these programs and refer you to state programs where applicable.

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. Call your local or state health department to learn more about their financial assistance programs. Check your local telephone book for the number to call.

United Way

The United Way External Web Site Policy may be able to direct you to free or reduced-cost dental services in your community. Local United Way chapters can be located on the United Way website. 

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NIH Publication No. 13-6097
April 2013

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®

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Revisión: 10 diciembre 2013