For people with severe financial limitations, taking care of a dental problem or going to a dentist for preventive care may be low on their list of priorities.
But the truth is, taking consistently good care of your teeth is more cost-effective than waiting until a serious dental problem occurs. Plus, oral hygiene is important for overall health. So if you or someone you know has been avoiding going to the dentist because they don't have insurance or don't think they can afford it, consider these options:
Dental schools. Many dental schools sponsor patient clinics and offer quality dental care at reduced cost. Visit the American Dental Association Web site, ada.org, for a list of dental schools to see whether there is a dental school clinic in your area, or ask at a local community health center.
Assistance plans. Use the American Dental Association Web site or a community health center to contact your state's dental society about assistance in paying for dental care for persons in need. The assistance programs vary from state to state, and some states may offer special programs to help pay for dental care for children. Also, some dentists and dental schools participate in community outreach programs to provide free or low-cost dental care to people who are uninsured.
Shop around. You can evaluate the overall cost of dental care by figuring out the cost of getting to the dentist and the convenience of the office hours.
If you want to compare fees for services, call different offices and ask for the cost of a standard service, such as a preventive visit that includes a professional cleaning, or the cost of full-mouth x-rays. If you choose a dentist who participates in your workplace's insurance plan, you may be covered for free checkups and cleanings twice a year.