Dental work can be prohibitively expensive when paychecks only stretch so far. Here are some sources for affordable dental work.

For many families in the Philadelphia region, dental care might seem like a luxury. Families struggling to pay for rent, utilities, and groceries often can’t afford the kind of care that dentists recommend, or even necessary treatment in an emergency.  However, long-term neglect of dental care can result in tooth decay, gum disease, and other painful oral conditions.

Knowing that your teeth are crucial to your overall health, and that families often struggle to afford basic healthcare, Penn Dental Medicine has put together this guide to resources for receiving inexpensive dental work.

A Word About Finding Inexpensive Dental Work vs How To Get Cheap Dental Work

To be clear, our guide is for finding affordable dental work, not “cheap” dental work. While “cheap,” does mean inexpensive, it also carries a connotation of “substandard” and that is not the type of dental work anyone needs. At Penn Dental Medicine, we believe that your care should not suffer due to your financial situation. We don’t recommend going to any source that uses less than the best materials and practices for treating patients. Your long-term overall health depends on your oral health, so the quality of your care should never be compromised.

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Finding Affordable Dental Care

It is very possible to find inexpensive dental care to fit your needs. Whether you’re looking for inexpensive braces, inexpensive dentures, inexpensive cosmetic dentistry, or just affordable basic dental care, there are options available. Some of these include:

Free Dental Clinics
If you’ve ever asked “where can I get free dental work done?,” there may be some options. Mission and service organizations,  and even, local health departments sometimes offer these services in economically disadvantaged areas. These are staffed by volunteer dental professionals. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends checking with your local health department for more information about whether these services are available in your area, and to find out if you qualify to receive treatment.

Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP
For many low income individuals, state-funded healthcare programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP may be able to help with dental care. Medicare provides health insurance coverage for those over the age of 65, and often covers dental emergencies, but not routine care. Medicaid is for low income individuals and families under the age of 65. Medicaid usually covers emergent dental care for adults, and all dental care for children. CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, covers health care for uninsured children. This typically includes dental care for children who qualify, but the details vary from state to state.

Clinical Trials
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research sometimes provides free or low cost dental care to those with certain conditions in exchange for those individuals being part of a research study. Whether this option for inexpensive dental work is available depends upon whether or not you have a condition that NIDCR is currently studying, and whether or not you qualify for participation in that study.

Dental Schools
While some people will tell you that you can get cheap dental work at dental schools, the truth is that dental schools are able to provide superb, inexpensive dental work. Dental schools are often able to discount dental work in exchange for your willingness to spend a little extra time at the clinic. Procedures are overseen by professors, who are professional dentists, and performed by students, so they often take more time than a typical dental office, however, the quality of care you receive is never compromised.

Penn Dental Medicine is the dental school at the University of Pennsylvania, located in the University City section of West Philadelphia. We offer quality dental care, often at discounted rates. For more information on becoming a Penn Dental Medicine patient, call  215-898-8965.