“I need dental work, but I have no money,” is something I see so many people saying online on sites like Reddit.
If you have found yourself in this situation, then you are not alone. An estimated 76.5 million adults in America do not have dental insurance.
This can make it tough to pay for dental care, like fillings and teeth cleanings, or even just a routine checkup. Even if you do have dental insurance, the cost of the dentist can still set you back $100s, or even $1,000s.
If you’re short on money, this is not ideal. Thankfully, if you need to pay for dental care, and don’t have any money, this post can help you out. Below, I’ll cover ways that you can find low-cost or even free dental care.
What will I learn?
Average Cost of Dental Procedures
The cost of dental work can be pretty high. When you’re on a budget, paying for important procedures can be tough.
So, how much exactly can dental work set you back? $100s or even $1,000s depending on the procedure.
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Here are the average costs of some dental procedures (figures are from CareCredit):
- Dental implants: $3,000 to $4,500
- Dental veneers (per tooth): $925 to $2,500
- Dental crown: $500 to $3,000
- Tooth extraction: $219 to $4,000
- Teeth cleaning: $75 to $200
- Scaling and root planing (per quadrant): $140 to $300
- Silver amalgam dental fillings (per tooth): $210 to $330
- Composite resin dental fillings (per tooth): $150 to $450
- Teeth bonding (dental bonding): $90 to $1,000
- Root canal: $300 to $2,000
- Dentures (basic to mid-range): $600 to $3,000
- Dentures (premium): $4,000 to $8,000
- Gum contouring (per tooth): $50 to $350
- Gum tissue graft (per procedure): $700 to $1,000
- Full mouth periodontal surgery treatment: $4,000 to $10,000
- Deal sealant (per tooth): $35 to $60
- Wisdom teeth removal (simple extraction): $75 to $200
- Wisdom teeth removal (impacted tooth): $225 to $600
- Wisdom teeth removal (four impacted): $1,000 to $3,000
- Professional teeth whitening: $300 to $1,000
- Full mouth dental reconstruction: $30,000 to $150,000
Here are the average costs of some orthodontic procedures (figures are from CareCredit):
- Metal braces: $3,000 to $7,000
- Ceramic braces: $4,000 to $8,000
- Lingual braces: $8,000 to $10,000
- Invisalign (clear braces: $4,000 to $7,000
- Retainers (clear plastic): $200 to $500
- Retainers (molded acrylic): $300 to $600
- Retainers (bonded): $500 to $1,000
- Bite correction: $500 to $2,500
- Orthodontic night guards: $200 to $1,100
How to Pay for Dental Work With No Money
As you can see from the figures above, dental care can cost you $100s or even $1,000s. Of course, if you have insurance, the cost can be cheaper. But, even those who do have insurance can still find themselves paying out a lot in out-of-pocket expenses and copays.
If you need dental work, but don’t have insurance, or you do have insurance and are still struggling to afford the cost of dental treatment, then you do have some options for getting low-cost or even free dental care.
Here’s how you can get dental work on a budget:
You can check to see if the government offers dental assistance.
Most charities will only grant you free dental care if you cannot qualify for federal/public aid. So, it’s a good idea to check any government programs first.
Medicaid is one potential option.
Medicaid is a public insurance program that provides health coverage to millions of Americans. This includes eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults, and people with disabilities.
Medicaid is administered by states, according to federal requirements.
Dental services are a required service for most Medicaid-eligible individuals under the age of 21.
So, Medicaid covers dental services for all child enrollees as part of a comprehensive set of benefits, referred to as the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit.
However, dental coverage differs for adults. It’s up to the state to determine what dental benefits are provided to adult Medicaid enrollees. Most states provide at least emergency dental services for adults. But, less than half of the states currently provide comprehensive dental care for adults.
So, you will have to check with the Medicaid office in your particular state to see what dental services are covered. And, you can also ask for a list of dental clinics near you that accept Medicaid insurance.
- You can check if you are eligible for Medicaid, apply for Medicaid, and get the contact information for Medicaid in your state here.
Medicare is the country’s federal health insurance program for:
- People who are 65 or older.
- Certain younger people with disabilities.
- People with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, sometimes called ESRD)
Unfortunately, Medicare doesn’t cover most dental care (including procedures and supplies like cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, dentures, dental plates, or other dental devices).
However, Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) will pay for certain dental services that you get when you’re in a hospital. So, Part A can pay for hospital stays if you need to have emergency or complicated dental procedures, even though it doesn’t cover dental care.
You are first eligible to sign up for Medicare 3 months before you turn 65. You may be eligible to get Medicare earlier if you have a disability, End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), or ALS (also called Lou Gehrig’s disease).
- Learn more about Medicare and how to sign up here.
3. Dental Lifeline Network
The Dental Lifeline Network provides comprehensive dental care to qualifying adults across the United States. Patients receive care through a network of volunteer dentists and laboratories.
Dental Lifeline Network provides dental care through a couple of different programs:
Donated Dental Services (DDS)
The Donated Dental Services (DDS) program provides free, comprehensive dental treatment to the country’s most vulnerable people with disabilities or who are elderly or medically fragile.
These are people who are unable to afford necessary treatment and cannot get public aid. The program operates through a volunteer network of 15,000 dentists and 3,400 dental labs across the United States.
Will You See One Veteran (WYSOV)
The WYSOV program partners DDS volunteers with eligible veterans. According to Dental Lifeline Network, veterans are more likely to experience worse oral health outcomes, higher rates of tooth decay, higher rates of periodontal disease, and an increased need for restorative care. However, only 15% of veterans are eligible for dental care through the Veterans Health Administration.
In order to qualify for the Donated Dental Services (DDS) or Veteran (WYSOV) program, you must meet one of the following criteria:
- Be over 65 years of age.
- Be permanently disabled.
- Need medically necessary dental care.
In addition, you must have no other means to afford or receive dental care. It’s important to note that, it does not offer emergency dental treatment. This is because firstly, it has a waitlist, which depending on where you live, the wait can be several months to a year or more, and, secondly, even if you become a patient in the program, it could take 4 weeks or more to find you a dentist.
You can get more information on how to apply and find out if you qualify for free dental care, by visiting the page linked below and clicking on your state on the map or the list.
- Visit the Dental Lifeline Network.
- You can learn more about how to apply for the programs here.
4. Free and low-cost local dental clinics
There are some dental practices that will offer services to low-income and uninsured individuals. This is often done using a sliding scale for payment. Some places charge low, fixed prices and other places may offer sliding fees based on how much you can afford. These places will offer things like exams, cleanings, x-rays, fillings, crowns, root canals, and surgical extractions at a lower cost. Some may have emergency dentists on call.
If you can’t afford a dentist with low-cost services or sliding scale payments, you may be able to receive free dental care. But, there are usually eligibility criteria that you will need to meet. Usually, eligibility for free dental services is based on your income level.
Here are a couple of ways to find a free or low-cost dentist near you:
- Call United Way 211: This is a great program that you can use to find services near you. Just call and you can get the information you need about affordable dental care near you.
- Health Resources and Services Administration: The Bureau of Primary Health Care, which is a service of the Health Resources and Services Administration(1-888-Ask-HRSA), supports federally-funded community health centers across the country that provide free or reduced-cost health services, including dental care. So, you can find a health center near you that offers free or reduced-cost health services on the Health Resources and Services Administration site linked above.
5. Dental schools
One option that you can try is local dental schools. You may be able to find a local dental school that will offer dental work for free.
Students at these dental schools need to gain hands-on training before they graduate. So, most schools will run clinics where students treat members of the public at a reduced cost. This means that you may be able to get procedures like root canals and fillings done for half the cost, or even less than that.
The appointment may take a little longer than usual because licensed supervisors have to check each step as the student does your dental work. You can search the list of U.S. and Canadian Accredited Dental Schools.
6. Dental hygiene schools
Some dental hygiene schools may also provide supervised, low-cost preventative dental care. Again, this is so students can get hands-on training and experience before they graduate. If there are any dental hygiene schools near you, then get in touch. You can also download a list that includes dental hygiene schools from the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA).
7. Charitable Smiles
Charitable Smiles is a 501(c)(3) approved dental charity that helps people who can’t afford dental treatment to get the care they need.
Anyone who needs dental care and/or treatment that they either can’t afford or lack the resources and/or means to receive care or treatment is eligible.
Please note that in order to be considered, you must be nominated.
Anyone can submit a nomination, but the main way to be considered for the program is by having a dental healthcare provider nominate you. Basically, the program is designed so that children or adults who are in need of dental care can be nominated by a dental healthcare provider.
So, you could consider asking a local dentist whether they would be able to submit a nomination for you.
8. Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)
Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) is a Medicare and Medicaid program. It helps people to meet their health care needs in the community instead of going to a nursing home or other care facility.
With PACE, you have a team of healthcare professionals that work with you and your family to ensure that you get the coordinated care that you need.
It’s another government program that you should consider.
PACE covers all Medicare and Medicaid-covered care and services, and other services that the PACE team of health care professionals decides are necessary to improve and maintain your health.
This includes drugs, and any other medically necessary care, like doctor or health care provider visits, transportation, home care, hospital visits, and even nursing home stays when necessary.
PACE provides all the care and services that are covered by Medicare and Medicaid if authorized by your health care team.
PACE covers services, such as home care, hospital care, and dentistry. If you have Medicaid, you won’t have to pay a monthly premium for the long-term care portion of the PACE benefit.
To qualify for PACE, you will need to:
- Be 55 or older.
- Live in the service area of a PACE organization.
- Need a nursing home level of care (as certified by your state).
- Be able to live safely in the community with help from PACE.
If you have Medicare, but not Medicaid, then you’ll be charged a monthly premium to cover the long-term care portion of the PACE benefit and a premium for Medicare drug coverage (Part D).
With PACE, however, there’s never a deductible or copayment for any drug, service or care approved by the PACE team of healthcare professionals.
- To find out if you’re eligible and if there’s a PACE program near you, search for PACE plans in your area, or call your Medicaid office.
9. Smiles for Everyone
The Smiles for Everyone Foundation provides free dental care to those in need, both in the U.S. and around the world.
There are three programs on offer:
Days of Giving
This offers basic dental services for free. Volunteers host a day-long free dental clinic to provide basic dental services for pre-qualified individuals in need.
More extensive dental services available for select individuals. These patients are often identified at a Day of Giving as someone who needs services that can’t be completed at a Day of Giving, including root canals, dentures, and implants.
They may also be a returning patient who is simply unable to afford extensive care and has no insurance to cover it. A provider will decide to offer these services pro-bono to a patient, and the patient will receive complete restorative services. So, a full Smile Makeover.
Select patients in need can receive dental implants free of charge.
If you want to get free dental care from Smiles for Everyone, here’s what you can do:
- Visit the site and check the organization’s Program Calendar. The calendar will show you if there are any upcoming events near you.
- Contact the company using one of the contact methods on this page and ask if they can help you to get the dental work you need.
10. Smiles for a Lifetime
Smiles for a Lifetime is a good option if your child needs braces and you’re struggling to pay for them.
Smile for a Lifetime is an international program that provides orthodontic treatment to children and young adults who would normally not be able to afford treatment.
To get braces, applicants must meet the following qualifications:
- Currently not wear braces.
- Have “good” dental hygiene practices.
- Must be enrolled in school with a C average or above GPA.
- Applicants are ages 8 to 18 years old.
- Family income of no more than 200% of the federal poverty level.
- Must provide one letter of recommendation from someone in school or the community.
Please note that Smiles for a Lifetime charges a $20 application fee to process the application.
Once your application has been reviewed and a participating orthodontist has been located, a final payment of $480 is charged. No other fees are charged. The organization also donates one set of retainers when treatment is complete.
So, this organization doesn’t offer totally free dental care, but it does provide it at a low cost.
- You can apply for braces from Smiles for a Lifetime here.
11. Give Back a Smile (GBAS)
Give Back a Smile is the AACD Charitable Foundation’s flagship program. It’s designed to help those who have been victims of domestic and sexual violence. The program restores the smiles of adults who have received dental injuries to the front teeth from a former intimate partner, family member, or due to sexual assault.
Here are the eligibility requirements:
- All persons aged 18 and above who have received dental injuries to the smile-zone from:
- A former intimate partner or spouse (husband, wife, domestic partner, boyfriend, or girlfriend)
- Family member
- Sexual violence (sexual assault and/or rape)
- Human trafficking (may be considered)
- The incident that caused the dental injuries generally must have happened at least one year ago. However, GBAS may make exceptions to the one-year requirements if the abuser is deceased or in jail/prison.
- If you have been hurt by an intimate partner or spouse, you need to be out of all abusive relationships for a minimum of one year.
- If you have been hurt by a family member, you need to have lived in a separate home from that person for a minimum of one year.
- If you have been hurt because of sexual assault, it needs to have happened at least one year ago.
The program has been around since 1999 and has helped more than 1,800 people.
- You can apply for the Give Back a Smile program here.
12. Smiles Change Lives
Smiles Change Lives helps families with the cost of braces. The organization has, with more than 750 partnering orthodontists, been able to help more than 10,000 young people.
Children applying for the organization’s program need to meet the qualifications below and, they must be motivated to follow the assigned orthodontist’s treatment plan, which averages between 20 and 36 months:
- Be 7 to 18 years of age (must receive application prior to the child’s 19th birthday).
- Have “good” oral hygiene and no unfilled cavities.
- Have a moderate to severe need for braces.
- Not be wearing braces currently.
- Family must meet the SCL financial guidelines(varies by geographic location).
- Be willing to pay the non-refundable $30 (USD) application fee and the non-refundable $650 (USD) required financial investment (per child).
So, since you do need to pay a $650 investment fee, then this isn’t free. But, it does provide low-cost dental care.
- Apply for the Smiles Change Lives program here.
13. Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is ideal if you are looking for dental coverage for your children.
If your children need health coverage, then they may be eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
CHIP provides low-cost health coverage to children in families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid. In some states, CHIP covers pregnant women.
CHIP benefits are different in each state. However, all states offer comprehensive coverage, which includes dental and vision care, as well as things like routine checkups, doctor visits, emergency services, hospital care, and prescriptions.
Check with your state for information about which services are covered.
Each state offers CHIP coverage and works closely with its state Medicaid program.
Each state has its own rules about who qualifies for CHIP. You can apply and find out if you qualify. If you apply for Medicaid coverage to your state agent, then you’ll also find out if your children qualify for CHIP. And, if they do, you won’t have to buy an insurance plan to cover them.
There are two ways you can apply for CHIP:
- Call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325).
- Fill out an application through the Health Insurance Marketplace. If it looks like anyone in your household qualifies for Medicaid or CHIP, your information will be sent to your state agency. They’ll contact you about enrollment. When you submit your Marketplace application, you’ll also find out if you qualify for an individual insurance plan with savings based on your income instead. Create an account or log in to an existing account to get started.
Routine “well child” doctor and dental visits are free with CHIP. There, may, however, be copayments for other services. Some states charge a monthly premium for CHIP coverage. The costs are different in each state, but you won’t have to pay more than 5% of your family’s income for the year.
14. CareCredit and other payment plans
Some people struggle to afford dental insurance copays or deductibles. If you don’t have insurance or can’t afford to pay for out-of-pocket expenses not covered by medical insurance, then try CareCredit.
It’s basically a credit card, except it’s designed to cover health costs.
CareCredit offers short term financing options of 6, 12, 18 or 24 months. No interest is charged on purchases of $200 or more when you make the minimum monthly payments and pay the full amount due by the end of the promotional period.
If you don’t, then interest is charged from the original purchase date.
You can use your CareCredit card to pay for out-of-pocket expenses that are not covered by medical insurance.
With the card, you can pay for health and wellness care at more than 250,000 enrolled providers across the country. Once you’ve applied, you can use your card again and again at any location that accepts CareCredit.
So, it offers you a way to pay for the cost of treatments and procedures and it allows you to make convenient monthly payments.
Like with any credit card, CareCredit is subject to credit approval, and after the promotional period, you may be charged interest.
If you are struggling to pay for dental work, you may want to consider applying for a CareCredit card. Just make sure you pay off the card as soon as you can.
- You can apply online here. You must be at least 18 years old to apply online.
- Or you can apply by phone on 1-800-677-0718. You must be at least 21 years old to apply by phone.
Another option is to simply ask your dentist if they offer any type of payment plan. Some may allow you to make monthly payments to cover the cost of your dental work. Your local dentist may offer in-house payment plans if you are paying out-of-pocket.
Other Ways to Get Free or Cheap Dental Care
Above, I’ve given you a lot of places to get free or low-cost dental work. This includes government programs, like Medicaid, charitable organizations, like Charitable Smiles, and free and local low-cost dental clinics.
In this section, I just want to give you some tips on how you can save money on dental care, or even get it for free. This includes things like taking advantage of government resources that can ease your financial strain and free up cash for you to spend on dental work, and side hustles you can use to earn extra cash to pay for dental care.
Here are some tips on saving money on dental work and getting free dental care.
15. See if you qualify for TANF benefits to ease your financial strain
There are some government programs that can help you out with the cost of dental care and other expenses. While these don’t directly give you free dental work, they can reduce the cost, and give you the money you need to pay for dental care.
One example is the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
Families who qualify for TANF get an EBT card and get cash assistance benefits.
The Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card has been the sole way that governments have issued benefits including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program benefits since June 2004.
EBT is used in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam.
If you qualify for TANF, you will get automatic deposits to your EBT card, which can be withdrawn from ATMs for cash. So, TANF is the main program that provides EBT cash benefits. You can use these benefits to help you to pay for dental work.
To be eligible for the TANF program, applicants need to be a resident of the state in which they apply, and a U.S. citizen, legal alien, or qualified alien. And, they must be unemployed or underemployed and have a low or very low income. You must also be one of the following:
- Have a child 18 years of age or younger.
- Be pregnant.
- Be 18 years of age or younger and the head of your household.
16. Consider picking up a side hustle if you’re able to
Okay, so if you don’t qualify for any of the programs above or meet the criteria of charitable organizations, free clinics, or other places that offer low-cost or free dental care, then you may want to consider picking up a side hustle. This is basically a gig you can do on the side of your regular job to bring in some extra money. You can then put this extra cash toward your dental bills.
There are side hustles that you can do from home or those that involve you getting out of the house. Now, I know that not everyone is able to pick up a side hustle, and if you are in pain with dental issues, then working might not be ideal. So, if you are not in the position to pick up a side hustle, then give this tip a miss. If you are able to pick up a side hustle though, this can be a good way to reduce the cost of dental work, or even cover the entire cost of it.
Here are some side hustles to consider…
Work as a Rideshare driver
One option that you can consider for making extra money to cover the cost of dental work is working as a rideshare driver.
Rideshare drivers get paid to give people lifts. You can find work as a rideshare driver on Uber and Lyft.
Uber drivers earn $15 an hour on average and pay can range from $3 to $35 an hour.
Lyft drivers earn $16 an hour on average and pay can range from $3 to $43 an hour.
You could pick up some shifts in the evenings, or at the weekends, or whenever you have some free time.
What’s good about Lyft and Uber is that both have a feature that you can use to get paid the same day. So, if you need money fast, driving for Uber or Lyft is a good option.
This feature isn’t free. It costs about $0.50 per cash out. It does, however, give you the option to get your money fast.
Do some Freelance writing
If you have good grammar skills and are good at researching too, then you could consider doing some freelance writing work. Freelance writing jobs allow you to work from home and make a little extra money.
You could earn $100s or even $1,000s fast, provided you can find enough jobs and get enough work done. Freelance writers get paid to create lots of different content, such as blog posts, articles, and books for clients.
Here are some writing websites that pay:
You can also use sites like UpWork and PeoplePerHour to find private clients.
Most freelance jobs pay per word. So, if you can write fast, then you can earn money very quickly.
Pay varies from as little as $0.01 per word to as much as $0.10 per word or even more than that.
Freelance writers earn $32 an hour on average. Pay can range from $5 to $129 an hour.
Some places pay per article like Verblio, for example, where pay starts at $10.50 for a 300 to 400 word post. Again, this means that if you are a fast writer and can get a lot of articles written quickly, then you could make extra money very quickly.
Give this one a try. You can make extra money for the dentist, and you don’t even need to leave the house.
Another way to earn some extra money to pay for dental care is to deliver food. Now, this is a good alternative to driving for companies like Uber and Lyft, because you don’t need to have anyone in your car.
Food delivery companies will pay you for delivering food from local restaurants and other eateries to people’s homes.
Here are some companies that pay you to deliver food:
Pay varies depending on the company you work for:
- DoorDash drivers earn $16 an hour on average. Pay can range anywhere from $3 to $32 an hour.
- UberEats drivers earn $6 to $38 an hour. The average pay is $19 an hour.
- GrubHub drivers earn $12 to $29 an hour. The average pay is $27 an hour.
Working with food delivery apps like DoorDash and the others above can be a good way to earn money fast. You can use this money to cover some or all of the cost of your dental treatment.
Be a data entry clerk
Another option you can try for making some extra money is working as a data entry clerk.
Data entry clerks enter data into documents, spreadsheets, and other data management systems.
The good thing about data entry jobs is that most of them require little if any, experience. So, it’s a good way to make extra money. Also, most data entry jobs are home-based.
Data entry clerks earn $20 an hour on average. Pay can range from $8 to $40 an hour.
You can find work on UpWork and Clickworker.
Deliver groceries with Instacart and Shipt
Another way to make some extra money is to deliver groceries. Again, if you’re not keen on having people in your car like you do when driving for Uber or Lyft, working for a grocery delivery company is a good alternative.
You can get paid to deliver groceries with Instacart and Shipt. With these companies, you get paid to shop for and deliver groceries to customers’ homes.
Now, if you don’t have a car, then, obviously, driving for companies like Lyft or delivering food with companies like UberEats, isn’t possible. However, Instacart actually has an In-Store Shopper role available. This role does not require you to have a car. Working as an In-Store Shopper at Instacart only requires you to shop for groceries and prepare them for the customer to collect.
With Shipt, you can earn anywhere from $16 to $22 an hour.
Pay for Instacart depends on the role.
- Instacart Full-Service Shoppers earn $2 to $30 an hour. Average pay is $12 an hour.
- Instacart In-Store Shoppers earn $3 to $23 an hour. Average pay is $13 an hour.
17. Get a second opinion if you can
Okay, so if you’re thinking, “I need dental work, but have no money,” then a tip that I have for you is to get a second opinion if you can. If you have a search online for “I need dental work, but have no money Reddit” or “I need dental work, but can’t afford it Reddit,” then, you will see that there are a lot of people that can’t afford the cost of dental work.
After much research through Reddit threads, one of the most common pieces of advice mentioned there was to get a second opinion.
This Reddit thread illustrates why this can be so important.
On the thread, this Redditor explains that they cannot afford the dental work that they need, saying:
- “We have dental insurance, finally, so we went for our free annual consult/x-rays today. I need multiple fillings, possibly one root canal, and one crown. My only complaint is some tooth sensitivity. Gums are good, teeth “look” good. The grand total for me, with insurance, is an estimated $900 if you include the root canal, which needs to be done at an endodontist per my dentist. Okay, it’s a lot, but I can sign up for Care Credit. They want me to come see them 6 times to get all of this done.
My boyfriend on the other hand needs…an insane amount of fillings, an insane amount of crowns, a root canal, etc- and his grand estimated total is…$9,000+ with insurance covering their portion. They want to see him a total of 10-11 times to get all of this work done.
I’ve been panicking for hours about this news. When I explained our financial situation to them, they essentially shrugged, say they offer Care Credit (I believe their “cap” is $2,500, which wouldn’t really help my boyfriend’s bill), and told me “you guys can spread out the work but his teeth could literally break out of his mouth within the year. Just saying”.
So, this couple was expecting to have to pay almost $10,000 for dental work.
In that Reddit thread, a lot of people advised the original poster that they should get a second opinion. They did, and gave an update:
- “Update, 160 days later: I finally went for a second opinion. I found a small, family owned, private dentist near me.
I only need 4 visits: for 5 fillings and one basic cleaning. 4 of the fillings are extremely minor for “very tiny cavities”; one of the 5 is a typical cavity. Zero crowns needed. Zero root canals needed.
Guess how much I’m being charged at the new dentist? $106.25 is what I’m going to owe for my 5 fillings and 1 cleaning. $106.25. I repeat: $106.25, compared to “$900 for an urgent root canal, crown, and (if I remember correctly) 10 fillings for awful cavities” per my previous chain dentist.
My boyfriend also went for a second opinion at that same dentist. What does he need at the new dentist?10 fillings, zero crowns, zero root canals, and a cleaning.
Guess how much he’s going to owe? $900. I repeat: $900. As opposed to “7 crowns, 2 root canals, and a filling in almost every single tooth that needs to be done IMMEDIATELY because if you wait a few months your teeth will be so decayed they’ll start falling out”.
So, when they went to a different dentist, they learned that they actually didn’t need all of the dental work that the original dentist claimed they did. The estimated cost of their dental work went from $9,900 to $906.25!
If you are able to, consider getting a second opinion.
18. Check for unclaimed money
Another way that you can get some extra money to cover the cost of dental care is to check to see if you have any unclaimed money anywhere.
You could have money that’s just waiting to be claimed. This can include:
Unclaimed Tax Refund Checks
Each year, the IRS has millions of dollars in tax refunds that go unclaimed. There can be a lot of reasons why tax refunds go unclaimed. For example, a person may have moved, and they forgot to update their address at the IRS, so their check is mailed to their last known address.
If you were expecting to receive a tax refund but didn’t get one, then you can go to the Where’s My Refund Page on the IRS website here or you can call the IRS to check the status of your refund. You can find the contact details for the IRS here.
Unclaimed Back Wages
You could be owed unpaid wages. This money could help you to pay for any dental work that you are struggling to afford. You can search the Wage and Hour Division’s database, which is part of the U.S Department of Labor, to see if you are owed any money.
Find out if you are owed unclaimed back wages here.
Money from Bank Failures
If you had money in a bank that failed, then you may be able to claim it back.
Each depositor is insured to at least $250,000 per insured bank under the FDIC. You can learn more about failed banks here.
Money from Credit Union Failures
If you put money into a credit union that failed, then you may be able to get the money back through the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).
You can learn more about getting money back from failed credit unions here.
You can also conduct a free online search for any unclaimed money at Unclaimed.org here.
Getting some extra money can be very helpful if you are struggling to afford dental work.
19. Sell stuff
So, if you need dental work and you can’t afford it, it can be stressful, right?
There is an easy way to get some extra money that can help you to cover some or all of the cost of your dental work, and that’s to sell stuff.
Most of us have at least a couple of things in our homes that we don’t use. So, why not sell this stuff and make some much needed cash?
Below, I’ll cover some things that you can sell, and where you can sell them, to earn money to pay for dental care.
Sell your clothes
If you have some clothes that you no longer wear, then you could consider selling them. Apparently, people only wear around 20% of their wardrobe anyway, so it’s likely you have items that you don’t wear. Selling clothes is unlikely to make you a ton of money, but you could make an extra $100 or so to add to your dental care fund.
Here are some great sites for selling your clothes:
Sell your used books
Another thing that you can sell is books. Most of us have books on our bookshelves that we’ll never read again, so they’re just sat there gathering dust. So, you can declutter your bookshelf, and make some extra cash selling used books.
While you likely won’t make a lot of money, you can bring in a little extra cash to add to your dental care fund.
Here are some great sites for selling books:
Sell your used electronics
Another thing that you could sell is your old electronics, like laptops, phones, and tablets.
Many of us have devices that we just don’t use anymore, so selling them can be a good way to bring in some extra money fast.
There are a lot of places where you can sell used electronics online, and many of these sites pay you fast and allow you to ship your devices to them for free.
Here are some places to sell used electronics:
You could make $100s selling used electronics, which you can add to your dental care fund.
Sell baby stuff
Babies grow out of stuff so fast, so you can end up with a lot of items that just don’t get used anymore. So, a good way to make money that you can use for dental care is to sell this unwanted baby stuff.
You can sell a wide variety of baby items, like:
- Baby clothes
- Kids clothes
- And much, much more.
Here’s where you can sell baby stuff:
Sell unused gift cards
Another thing that many of us have in our homes that go unused is gift cards. Now, gift cards are often given by well-meaning friends and family members.
Unfortunately, you sometimes receive a gift card that’s for a store that you just don’t really shop at or a brand that you don’t really like. So, you’re left with a gift card that you’re unlikely to use. Instead of letting the gift card go to waste, sell it instead. Then, you can get the cash that you can spend on your dental care.
You don’t usually get the full value of the gift card back, but it gives you cash to use anywhere, including at the dentist.
Here’s where you can sell gift cards:
If you need to make a few $100, then you could consider selling unwanted furniture. This could be a sofa or a coffee table or a nightstand, or a few different pieces, that you no longer want. Whatever the item is if you have unwanted furniture or furniture that you could do without, then consider selling it.
You can sell furniture online and near you.
Here’s where you can sell used furniture:
You could also have a yard sale if you have a few pieces to sell. If you need money for dental work, consider selling used furniture.
If you need money to pay for dental work, then selling gold is an option to consider. If you have some gold in your home, such as a gold ring, gold necklace, gold watch, or gold bracelet, then you could sell it to make money quickly.
What’s good about selling gold is that many places will pay you on the spot for your gold.
Have a read of my list of places to sell gold to get started.
Another option you can try to make some extra money to cover the cost of dental work is to sell silver. Like with gold, you may have some silver jewelry that you could sell. You can also sell silverware.
Have a read of my list of places to sell silver to get started.
20. Take preventative measures to avoid expensive dental work in the future
Having to get expensive dental work sucks! One of the ways that you can save money is to take preventative measures so that you can avoid having to get expensive dental work done in the future.
This includes things like:
- Brush your teeth every single day. This keeps your teeth and gums healthy.
- Flossing every day, as this can prevent plaque and the cavities that can result from it.
- Visit your dentist regularly. Yes, I know that this can seem counterintuitive if you are looking to avoid paying dental costs but going to the dentist for regular checkups allows your dentist to catch problems earlier before they turn into more complex dental issues that require more expensive treatment.
Of course, some dental issues still arise, no matter how well you care for your teeth. For example, some people, myself included, are more prone to cavities than others. But, try to do all you can to prevent having to get expensive dental procedures done in the future.
In this section, I’ll cover some FAQs about needing dental work when you have no money. So, you can get the dental care you need.
How can I afford to fix my teeth?
Some free and low-cost options for fixing your teeth include finding a local dental clinic that offers free treatment, low-cost treatment, or payment on a sliding scale based on what you can afford, and contacting charitable organizations, such as the Dental Lifeline Network and Charitable Smiles, to get dental care.
Make sure you have a read of the other options on the list above if you want to know how to afford to fix your teeth.
How do people afford a lot of dental work?
The way people afford a lot of dental work varies.
- Some people have an emergency fund that they use when unexpected expenses come up, like needing extensive dental work.
- Some people have insurance that covers the cost of dental work.
- Others work a side hustle and save up the money they earn and use that to pay for dental care.
- Some people set up a monthly payment plan with their dentist so that they don’t have to pay for treatment all at once.
- Some people cannot afford to pay for dental work as they are on a low income, they don’t have insurance, they don’t have any savings, or they have simply found themselves short on cash as many people do. So, they have to seek out resources, which could be government care like Medicaid or charitable organizations, like Charitable Smiles, or local dental clinics that provide free or low-cost dental care.
What is the cheapest state to get dental work done?
The cheapest states to get dental work done are:
Can you do your own dental work?
While it may seem tempting to do your own dental work when you’re short on cash, it’s never a good idea.
According to Dr. Rick Dentistry, DIY dentistry can cause serious damage to your oral health.
Doing dental work yourself can harm your teeth, gums, bone, and the ligaments that support your teeth as well. Depending on the nature of the DIY dental treatments, there’s a risk of long-term complications, such as problems with your jaw, an abnormal bite, gum disease, tooth decay, and even tooth loss.
So, it is best to leave dental care to dental professionals.
Can you pay monthly for dental treatment?
Some dental clinics will have payment plans on offer that allow patients to pay for treatment monthly. Other places may require weekly payments. Some payment plans are interest-free, at least for a certain period of time, and other places will charge interest.
It’s best to ask your dental clinic if they offer any type of monthly payment plan. You can also pay for dental treatment monthly using the CareCredit credit card. I mentioned this credit card above. Basically, CareCredit offers a credit card that you can use to pay for medical treatments. Then, you can pay off the cost monthly.
If you’ve found yourself in a position where you need dental work but have no money, you do have options for getting dental care. There are lots of ways you can get dental work for free or at a low cost.
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