UPDATED: November 25, 2022

Do you need dental work but don't have the money to pay for it? Dental work can be expensive, especially for low-income adults who often don't have dental insurance. 

Most people would just skip the dental treatment because they don't have money. A lot of times, the problem gets worse, resulting in a more serious dental or medical condition and more expensive treatments.

Rotten teeth would fall off, making it hard for you to chew. Poor oral health can also lead to other diseases such as heart diseases, meningitis, dementia, and respiratory infections.

But do you know that you don't have to skip your dental treatment just because you can't afford it? Financial grants and programs are available to help with dental costs and even provide free dental care. 

We looked at dozens of grants that provide dental assistance to low-income adults and sort them based on your chances of getting approved and the ease of application.

If you need dental work but can't afford it, keep reading! You have to do something now before your dental problems get worse, which would mean more expensive treatments in the future.

What Are Dental Grants for Low-Income Adults and Children?

Dental grants are available from a variety of sources, including the government and private organizations. These programs often serve different sectors of the low-income population like seniors, children, single mothers, and the disabled to help them cover all or some of the cost of dental care.

These dental grants help significantly reduce the cost of dental treatment and some even provide free dental services. 

So how do dental grants work? Depending on the organization sponsoring the dental grant and your location, you’ll have to meet the eligibility rules and processes. When you pass the applications, they’ll pay for your dental treatments.

In the next sections, we will provide a curated list of dental grants and the organizations that offer them. Hopefully, this can help you find the dental help you need.

Government Dental Programs

One of the places to check is whether the government has dental assistance in place. 

We listed the government programs first because most dental charities will check whether you can qualify for federal/public aid before they grant you free dental care. 

Below are some of the available government programs you can check out for help with dental costs.

Medicaid

Medicaid is a health care insurance program for individuals with low income in the United States. It’s one of the largest payers for healthcare in America. If you’re a low-income individual, you can apply for Medicaid and get free dental care.

Who Is Eligible?

Low-income US citizens and legal immigrants are eligible to apply for Medicaid. A low-income individual usually means that you’re earning below the poverty guideline in your state. 

The exact rules of eligibility will depend on the state where you reside. In general, you need to meet the following:

  • Financial eligibility based on income as determined by your state using Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI)
  • You’re a resident of the state where you’ll receive Medicaid
  • You’re medically needy even when you have higher income

What Dental Treatments Are Covered?

The level of coverage will depend on the state you live in. At present, very few states offer comprehensive dental care, so you have to check with your state's Medicaid office if the procedure will be covered.

As a general rule, the procedure has to be medically necessary. For example, if the procedure has to be done to prevent infection or because of an injury, then there’s a higher possibility that Medicaid will cover it. Examples are:

  • impacted wisdom teeth removal
  • procedures to prevent bleeding
  • treatment to prevent loss of teeth

If the dental care service you need is cosmetic, meaning to beautify your teeth, and is not medically necessary, then it will not be covered by Medicaid.

How to Apply?

  1. If you’re a low-income adult below 65 and do not have health insurance, check whether you can qualify for Medicaid by entering some basic info on this page:

Check If You Qualify for Medicaid 

Note that even if you don't qualify based on income alone, some other factors may qualify you, such as household size or disability.

  1. If you qualify or if you already have Medicaid, the next step is to contact your state's Medicaid office. You can find the contact information from this page:

Find Your State's Medicaid Office

  1. Check with the Medicaid representative from your state whether the dental work you need can be covered. You can also ask them for a list of dental clinics near your residence that accept Medicaid insurance.

Medicare

Medicare is the United States' national health insurance program for seniors as well as some people with disabilities. It’s important to note, however, that Medicare dental coverage is very limited.

Who Is Eligible?

Medicare currently covers:

  • seniors 65 years or older
  • younger people with disabilities
  • people with End-Stage Renal Disease

What Dental Treatments Are Covered?

Dental work will only be covered by Medicare if it’s a part of and necessary procedure for a covered condition. This means that if you’re going for dental work alone, it's highly unlikely that the procedure will be covered.

What is an example of a situation where dental work may be covered? 

For instance, if you encounter an accidental injury that requires jaw reconstruction and part of that is dental work, Medicare may cover the cost as long as the dental work is done at the same period of the covered procedure.

How to Apply?

  1. If you don't have Medicare yet, visit the website to check if you qualify.

Medicare Application Page

  1. To know whether the dental procedure you need coincides with a covered procedure, contact the Medicare office in your state.

Call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 or chat with a representative.


PACE

The Program for All-inclusive Care for the Elderly or PACE is under the Medicaid and Medicare program to help seniors get the care they need instead of going to a facility or nursing home. If you’re enrolled in PACE, it may cover additional health services including dental care.

Who Is Eligible?

  • You must be 55 years or older. 
  • You must reside in a community or area where the PACE program is offered.
  • You must need a nursing home level of care as certified by your state of residence.
  • You must be able to live safely within the community with PACE's help.

What Dental Treatments Are Covered?

If you’re wondering how to get free dentures for seniors, then PACE may be the solution to your problem. Because the PACE program covers dentistry, it could be a resource to get free dentures. It may also be able to cover other dental procedures that are not cosmetic.

How to Apply?

  1. Check whether there’s a PACE program in your area by visiting the website below:

PACE Program Areas

  1. You can also contact your local Medicaid office.

Local Medicaid Office 


Children's Health Insurance Program

The Children's Health Insurance Program or CHIP is a program designed for children to provide low-cost health insurance coverage.

Who Is Eligible?

Children up to age 19 years old in families where they cannot qualify for Medicaid because they earn above the poverty limit, but they still cannot afford private health insurance.

What Dental Treatments Are Covered?

The coverage for dental services will vary depending on your state of residence. CHIP may cover dental services in children including:

  • pain and infection relief
  • teeth restoration
  • dental health maintenance
  • services and procedures that are medically necessary

How to Apply?

The rules of enrollment are different per state.

  1. To see whether your child is eligible for CHIP, you can:
  1. You can also find available benefits by visiting InsureKidsNow.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

This program under the Office of Family Assistance is also known as TANF. It’s a cash assistance program designed for low-income families. 

If you need dental care and your Medicaid insurance can't cover it, you can use the cash money to help with dental care.

Who Is Eligible?

Disadvantaged families and single parents with children 18 years old and below are qualified to apply. 

The requirements differ depending on your state. You have to check state requirements and meet all the requirements to get financial assistance.

What Dental Treatments Are Covered?

TANF is not exactly a dental grant, however, low-income families can apply to get financial aid, which they can use for free dental care.

How to Apply?

To apply for TANF assistance, you should contact your county or local welfare office.

Visit the website to find the contact details: 

TANF Website

Dental Charities

If you don't have health insurance or Medicaid/Medicare cannot cover the cost of your dental care, another route that you can explore is finding dental charities. 

Many dental charities can provide low-cost or even free dental work for you. However, not all programs have the same eligibility requirements.

Below is a list of some dental charities that you can check out.

Dental Lifeline Network

The Dental Life Network or DLN is an organization that provides dental care and education for underprivileged individuals. 

Its main program is called the Donated Dental Services (DDS), which is a network of over 15,000 volunteer dentists and 3,400 volunteer laboratories.

Who Is Eligible?

You may be eligible for free or discounted dental care if you are one of the following:

  • have a permanent disability
  • seniors age 65 or older
  • medically fragile
  • veterans

What Dental Treatments Are Covered?

The coverage for dental treatments depends on the state where volunteer dentists are available. Most volunteer dentists provide comprehensive dental treatments. Not all volunteer dentists, however, will provide emergency services.

How to Apply?

  1. Visit the DLN website and click your state of residence.

DLN Find Your State

You will find the types of dental services and additional eligibility requirements (if any) for your particular state to apply for the Donated Dental Services. The page will also indicate whether new applications are open.

  1. Download and print the Application form specific to your state and fill it up.
  2. Contact the DDS Coordinator for your state and submit the application form. Please note that each state will have a different application form and DDS coordinator.

Charitable Smiles

Charitable Smiles is a non-profit organization that helps individuals who lack resources to get free dental care from participating dentists.

Who Is Eligible?

Anyone, adults or children, who need dental care but cannot afford it can be nominated to be considered. You will have to prove that you’re experiencing financial hardship to qualify.

What Dental Treatments Are Covered?

The Charitable Smiles website doesn’t detail what type of dental treatments are covered, but it indicated that it can cover advanced dental treatments.

How to Apply?

  1. You have to be nominated through the Charitable Smiles website to be considered whether you are eligible. The nomination form is available at:

While anyone can submit a nomination, the most common way to be considered is if a dental health care provider nominates you. This can increase your chances of getting qualified.

Try asking a local dentist in your area or at least a community health officer whether they can submit a nomination for you.

  1. After you’re nominated, the organization will review whether you qualify. You may be interviewed and asked to provide proof of financial hardship to ensure your eligibility.
  2. If you qualify, they will refer you to a chosen dental provider who will perform the treatment. All payments will be done to the dental provider so you will not need to worry about paying out-of-pocket or claiming reimbursements.

Smiles For Everyone

The mission of Smiles for Everyone is to provide free dental care to disadvantaged families inside and outside the US. They have 3 programs listed on their website:

  • Days of Giving
  • Smile Makeovers
  • Implanting Inspiration

Who Is Eligible?

The organization chooses the communities and recipients for their Days of Giving programs. The recipients of Smile Makeovers and Implanting Inspiration are usually identified during Days of Giving.

What Dental Treatments Are Covered?

  • Days of Giving – free basic dental care
  • Smile Makeovers – more extensive procedures like dentures, root canals, implants
  • Implanting Inspiration – free dental implants

How to Apply?

  1. Visit the organization's website to check out their program calendar. The calendar will show whether there’s an upcoming event near you.

Program Calendar

  1. Alternatively, you can also contact them through the contact form on their page or email [email protected] to inquire whether they can offer help for the dental care you need.

Give Back A Smile

Give Back A Smile or GBAS is a program sponsored by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Charitable Foundation. 

The goal of the program is to provide compassionate cosmetic dental services and support to people who’ve suffered dental injuries from domestic and sexual violence.

Who Is Eligible?

You are 18 and above with a dental injury in your smile zone from:

  • a former intimate partner
  • a family member 
  • sexual violence or human trafficking

The incident should have happened at least one year ago and you must be out of the abusive relationship or living in a separate home for at least a year.

What Dental Treatments Are Covered?

The treatments provide cosmetic dental treatments in the smile zone. However, it will not cover dental procedures on cases due to dental neglect or incomplete/bad dental work done by other dentists.

Depending on the volunteer dentist in your area, the dentist will decide what types of dental work are necessary to restore your smile zone.

How to Apply?

  1. Before you send an application, you must do one of the following:
  • Pay a $20 non-refundable fee to the GBAS program or
  • Complete 10 hours of community service with a volunteer verification form within 12 months of application.
  1. Visit the GBAS website to fill out an application form. You have 3 options:

The mailing address is:  Give Back a Smile, 402 West Wilson St, Madison, WI 53703

  1. Your application will be reviewed. If you initially qualify, you will be referred to a volunteer dentist in your area, who will decide on your eligibility.

Give Kids A Smile

The American Dental Association organizes the Give Kids A Smile or GKAS program to provide free oral care to underserved children in local communities. The local events kick off annually on the first Friday of February and are held throughout the year in different states.

Who Is Eligible?

Underprivileged children who don’t have health insurance with dental coverage are qualified to apply.

What Dental Treatments Are Covered?

GKAS days usually cover free oral health education, screenings, preventive and restorative treatment for children.

How to Apply?

You need to attend a GKAS event to bring your child for free oral care.

To find out whether a GKAS event is happening near you, call 1.844.490.GKAS


Dentistry from the Heart

This is a non-profit organization providing free dental care to people in need. As the event only partners with dental clinics for Dentistry from the Heart events, you can only get free oral care if there’s an event near you.

Who Is Eligible?

As long as you’re an adult 18 years or above, you can attend any of the Dentistry from the Heart events. There are no income requirements or any other conditions to get treatment.

What Dental Treatments Are Covered?

During an event, you can choose from:

  • one (1) basic cleaning
  • one (1) cavity filling
  • one (1) tooth extraction

How to Apply?

To learn whether an event is happening near you, you can visit the NEWS section of their website:

Dentistry from the Heart website 


Smiles Change Lives

This is an orthodontic program established by the Virginia Brown Community Orthodontic Partnership to provide free braces to children who cannot afford them.

Who Is Eligible?

The following are qualified:

  • Children 7 to 18 years old
  • Have a moderate to severe need for braces and are not currently wearing braces
  • Have a good oral hygiene
  • The family must meet the program's financial guidelines which vary by state
  • Must pay the $30 non-refundable fee and additional $650 non-refundable financial investment per child if accepted into the program

What Dental Treatments Are Covered?

The program covers the cost of braces.

How to Apply?

  1. Prepare the application requirements:
  • Photos and Videos – instructions are available on the site
  • Letters of support
  • Federal Income Tax Return or Supplemental Security Income Awards Letter
  1. Visit the application page to complete your application. You may be required to sign consent forms, as well as complete a checklist.

Application Page


Smile for a Lifetime

This is another nonprofit program that offers free braces to underprivileged children.

Who Is Eligible?

The following are the requirements:

  • Children not currently wearing braces ages 8 to 19 from low-income families, earning no more than 200% of the federal poverty level
  • Have good dental hygiene
  • Must be enrolled in school with at least a GPA of C or above
  • Must have moderate/severe need for braces
  • Must be willing to do volunteer work for at least 20 hours
  • Recommendation letters from supervisors
  • You have to afford the $20 non-refundable application fee and the $480 investment fee when accepted into the program.

What Dental Treatments Are Covered?

This program covers the cost of braces.

How to Apply?

  1. Visit the application page of the organization.

Application Page 

  1. Fill out all the requirements including but not limited to:
  • Dental clearance
  • Pictures
  • Proof of income
  • Student essay
  • Recommendation letters
  • Report Card
  • Application form
  1. You will have to go through an application process which will include pre-qualification, payment of fees, and final approval.

Local Dental Clinics

If you don’t have dental insurance or your insurance doesn’t cover the treatment you need, there are many local dental clinics willing to provide pro bono dental work (free) or a discounted rate depending on your income level and need.

To find a dental clinic near you, visit the site below:

Needymeds.org

Dental Schools

Many dental students offer free or discounted services to the public. Check with your local dental school for more information on how you can get discounted dental treatment through their student clinics.

For a list of accredited schools in your state, visit the page below:

Find Accredited Dental Schools

Grant Donor Beneficiaries

Another option that you can explore is to look at the websites of foundations that provide financial grants to communities and nonprofits. 

While these organizations don’t provide dental help or financial assistance directly to individuals, you can follow these steps to find a local grant recipient near you:

  1. Visit the foundation's website.
  2. Search the website for the list of their beneficiaries and check whether there is a local clinic or charitable organization near your area related to dental care.
  3. Contact the dental clinic or organization whether they can provide free dental care.

We have listed some of the foundations you can check out:

Are There Dental Grants for Implants? 

Unfortunately, most dental grants and programs in the country don’t cover the cost of implants, unless specified. 

Most free dental care programs are limited to medically necessary procedures, preventive, and restorative care using the least expensive option. Other dental services not covered include expensive or advanced treatments as well as cosmetic dental work.

If you're wondering how to get a cosmetic dental grant or free implants, you have to be aware that this can only happen in rare instances.

An alternative to getting a lower cost for these procedures is considering dental tourism, which means traveling to countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, or Thailand to save at least 40% to 50% in dental costs.

Getting Free and Discounted Dental Care in the US

If you need dental care and don’t have the money to pay for it, there are still options available to you. This list of free and discounted dental care grants and programs we’ve compiled can help get you started on your way to better oral health. We hope that this information is helpful and that you will take advantage of these valuable resources.

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