Free Dentures and Dental Care for Low-Income Individuals

Without doubt, questions about free dentures and dental care for seniors, or low-cost dentures have been the #1 question that I receive here at Stuff Seniors Need.  And the reason is pretty obvious.  When seniors retire, they typically lose their dental insurance that they got from work.

And then comes the shock when they find out the Medicare, except in very isolated instances, offers no dental coverage at all.  That means that most seniors end up paying for it out-of-pocket.

But because it is the single most asked question of me, I have taken the time to list all of the best ideas for those who need free dentures and dental care but cannot afford it.  Those ideas that you will find below will include…

  • Finding Free (or low-cost) dental coverage as close to you as possible
  • A listing of resources by state to better assist you
  • Dental Discount Plans
  • Utilizing local dental schools to get free/low-cost care
  • How to find dental plans for seniors
  • How to quickly get emergency dental care

But it is also important to note that there is no way that I could put together an all-encompassing list of every single resource in the country.  So while I am going to do all that I can to list as many resources as possible, I will also be taking the time to show you how to do local searches for yourself so use the ideas I am giving you to find the resources you need, just like Sarah did in the comments below…

I had called and talked to the Ohio Dental Association and they had given me a phone number to call and based on your income you may be eligible to receive free dentures after filling out the packet that they mail you. The place is called Dental Options and they may help in other states but it is worth a shot to call and see the number is 1-888-765-6789. I had called for my mother and she is eligible so thank you for the information that you had posted. The only thing is there is a waiting list so it may not be right away but she is going to get the help she needs!!!

Let’s get started…

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Free Dentures and Dental Care

First and foremost, due to the number of requests I have gotten for specific local information I have put together a list of resources to get either free or low-cost dental care by state.  You can view that list here.

After checking that out, here are some of the places I would check first…

National Association of Free Clinics 

The National Association of Free Clinics is a nationwide group of doctors and dentists that provide free dentures and dental care  for all age groups, including seniors.  There are financial requirements that you must meet in order to qualify but I would recommend that you take the time to investigate this resource.

It should also be noted that the lists found on the NAFC website go beyond dental care and offer help in all areas of medicine.

Video Overview of Free Dentures and Dental Care

Next, I would look into the Dentist Care Foundation of Mercy.  This is a group of volunteer, traveling dentists who take their staffs with them on a “road show” for lack of a better phrase, and provide help in a given area on a first-come, first-served basis for those without insurance.  Be warned, if one is coming to your area you better there early because people have been known to wait for hours…and I mean 8-10 hours…to see a dentist.
Here is a video of them in action…

However, if you need free care then this is the type of thing you need to be looking for.

ToothWisdom.org

Another great resource, tooth wisdom has comprehensive listings of programs available in all 50 states

Clinical Trial

Would you be willing to participate in a clinical trial?  If so then there is great possibility of getting free dentures and dental care, if you qualify, through the Dental Research Programs Directory.

There, you will find a listing of upcoming clinical trials with eligibility requirements. You can search by state or by procedure to see if you could benefit from the free clinical trial.

Local Help Through Office of the Aging 

Your local Office of the Aging may be able to help you find something local as well.

The Office of the Aging, which might go by another name in your area of the country, should be your 1st call when you, as a senior or the caregiver of a senior, need assistance.  They might know of local programs that some of the national websites, such as Tooth Wisdom, wouldn’t be in a position to know about.

Another good source for this type of information would be your local Lion’s Club.  They also may be able to put you into touch with state agencies that can assist you as well, or could know of some local dentists that can do pro-bono work for needy individuals.

State Dental Association

Reach out to your state’s dental association.  I have an up-to-date list here of the contact information for each state’s chapter.  The great part about reaching out to them is that they should, and I am emphasizing the word should, know of the local programs that can help you.  But the reality is that their responses can be spotty.

When I requested information from them for the listing of dental care resources by state, some were very helpful and others didn’t answer at all.  You are just going to have to try and see what is available.

Donated Dental Services

The next thing that I would do is seek out donated dental services. This is a service offered by the Dental Lifeline Network. You can visit their website here.

What you do after going to their website is click on your state (in my case New York)…

 

And take a look at the information to see if they are still accepting applications in your area.

 

 

Some of the states do and some of them are closed because of the number of outstanding applications.

My suggestion would be for you to contact the state coordinator regardless of whether they are accepting applications, explain the situation and see what type if information they can relay to you.

If Not Free Dentures and Dental Care, Then At Least Low-Cost 

Ok, if you are like many people then you did not qualify for free dentures using one of the programs above…but what about cheap dentures? Where can you go to find a set of cheap dentures?   Try your local dental college.

This may be a shot in the dark but if you call a few local schools you may have the ability to get seen by some of the students at the dental college. This is not as bad as it may sound. The work done on you will be well supervised under the care of expert professors and you will be receiving the set of cheap dentures you need.   It is important to note that not every dental school will do this…but it is worth a shot if it means that you will be saving potentially thousands of dollars.

And I have to say, recently I attended an expo held at the Long Island State Veterans Home where one of the exhibits was a free dental screening.  As I went through the screening and had a chance to chat with those assisting the veterans, I found out that they were dental students from the local dental school at Stony Brook University.

The students were performing the exams and I had the chance to speak to their instructors about how the dental school can help seniors.  You see, here at StuffSeniorsNeed.com questions regarding dental care are the most commonly asked question. Take a look below at the amount of comments I get…every single one a question about finding local help for their teeth.

And these comments do not count the emailed question I get. A week does not pass that I don’t get at least one question from a desperate senior or caregiver somewhere in the United States who needs dental care and cannot afford it.

And while I have long advocated seeking out local dental colleges as a great way for seniors to reduce their amount of money they pay for their dental care, I never had the chance to see one in action like this.  I have a brochure here, which I scanned and you can read the particulars for yourself. Just click on the picture below to enlarge both images. But rather than just repeating what the brochures say, let me give you a few of the finer points here…

 

 

  • Costs for services are about 50% of what you would typically pay if you were going to a dental practice.
  • These reduced fees are further reduced by 50% if you are a veteran, so the total savings for senior veterans is 75% off of the regular price.
  • This particular dental school accepts Medicaid as a form of payment. It should be noted that not all do…it depends on the state you live in…but you can inquire if your local dental college does.

So while the brochure may be for only one specific dental college, and as you read this you might be on Long Island, the point of showing you this is that the these types of services and discounts are available to you in your area through the local dental schools that will serve you.

So it will be your responsibility to take the first step. It’s easy to find the local dental schools. Then contact them and I am sure you will see they operate in a very similar fashion to Stony Brook University dental does.

Now, let me explore the next option if you do not qualify for any of the above, how to find a good dental plan to save you as much as possible…

Dental Plans For Seniors

Dental Plans For Seniors that are affordable are a very big topic for seniors, and it is easy to understand why.  When most seniors retire, they go on Medicare. And Medicare has very limited, if any, coverage for dental care like I said earlier.

This means that seniors are left with two choices…find their own insurance or pay out of their own pocket.   My Dad was in this position, having to lay out several thousand dollars for dentures at age 72…which was a chore to pay for financially.

So I understand this is tough, but the purpose of this article will be to sift through the options, show you what to look for and find the right dental plan for seniors that fits your budget.

Cost

I understand that cost isn’t everything (really it is the services covered that is most important) but if you are going to talk about dental plans for seniors we need to start there.

So, how much money are you going to have to lay out for the plan?

The way that dental plans for seniors work is that the applying senior will have to pay a yearly fee…and this can be from $75 to $300 a year, to be part of the plan. After you have been accepted to the plan, you will receive information based around what your costs will be when you go to the dentist.

But here it can get tricky trying to figure out which of the dental plans for seniors is the best for you.  Because the amount of money that the senior may owe will vary greatly from plan-to-plan.

As an example, here is the fee schedule for one particular dental plans for seniors that I found…

 

So let me be clear. After you are paying the yearly fee for the plan, you still have to pay each time you go to the dentist. The services are discounted, but you do have fees.

Maximum Benefit

Another important thing to consider when discussing dental plans for seniors is the total benefit that the plan will provide over the course of the year.  As another example, one of the dental plans for seniors that I saw gave you the following benefit for the two options offered by the plan…

 

 

Now, for a dental plan $1,000 and $1,500 limits can run out quickly if you are having some major dental work done.  On a personal basis, I know that Dad’s denture bills that I spoke about above were far in excess of that.  So you really need to check into this feature to make sure that you are exploring the dental plans for seniors that can really benefit you.

Services Offered and Covered

Obviously dental plans for seniors are going to vary somewhat on their features, so it is vital for you to check out exactly what is covered and what is not.  Now, I personally feel that the best way for me to share with you is just to share exactly what the services are offered in a particular dental plan for seniors.

Now, I can’t do that for every one, but I am going to pick you and give you a sample.

 

So here you get an idea of the types of services offered, as well as the costs associated.

In Network / Out of Network

To many, this may be more important than anything. You are going to want to choose your own dentist…

Now, in these dental plans for seniors there is always the question of whether or not your dentist is a part of the network or if you are going to be forced to go another dentist.  Well, the best part about MOST of these dental plans for seniors is that they feature a “find the dentist” option to determine whether or not your dentist is a participant, or at the very least if you do not have a dentist they tell you where you can find a local dentist that takes the plan…

To describe this feature, in the dental plan for seniors I have been using as my example, for my zip code, in West Islip, NY, 11795, there were 129 dentists in my town that take it!

So you have plenty to choose from.

Free Dentures and Dental Care for Veterans

Being that Dad is a veteran and is in need, I checked into free dental care for veterans. As it is, all of his doctor’s visits take place at the VA hospital in Northport and the vast majority are free.

On occasion, Dad does have to pay for one, and in addition he also has to lay out of his pocket for the co-payment on his prescription medications.

But he never went to the VA for his dental work. As a matter of fact, he had to go to a “regular” dentist to get his teeth pulled and get his dentures.

So I decided to check into this, and the answer to whether or not there is free dental care for veterans really depends upon why you need the dental care done.  If you meet any of the following eligibility standards, then you eligible for free dental care…

  • Have a service-connected “compensatable” dental disability or condition
  • Are a former POW
  • Have service-connected disabilities rated 100% disabling

Now, all of this information is listed on page of the “Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors” booklet (2014 edition VA Pamphlet 80-14-01) as well as the terms and conditions for which the government will pay for free dental care for veterans.

But the question becomes what do you do if you are a veteran who didn’t meet any of those classifications, didn’t serve in combat and do in fact need the care.

Here is what I would do…

  • Re-read this article, in particular paying attention to the parts above involving the State Veterans Hospital at Stony Brook and their programs for veterans
  • Contact the local VA Caregiver office. There is one located in each VA hospital or medical facility to see if they can help you in any way

While there might be difficulties in finding Free dental care for veterans there are certainly ways for you to get taken care of.

Free Dental Implants for Low Income Seniors

I was originally under the impression that implants were more of a cosmetic solution and thus wouldn’t be covered by many of the sources I outlined above.  What I did eventually discover is that finding low-cost or free dental implants for low income seniors shared many of the sources that I had already uncovered when dealing with dentures.

So, I am not going to repeat what I have already mentioned above.  You can ask for dentures or for implants.  But there was one service that I came across that is worth mentioning.

In addition to the dental discount plans I mentioned above, there are a set of companies, such as Care Credit that finance the cost of certain medical procedures. They do more than dental implants, such as Lasik eye surgery, but if you are in a bind and looking for a payment plan option for your medical services than you can definitely check out Care Credit for more information.

Finally, if you are a webmaster and would like to use all of this information on your website I put together a little infographic that you are free to embed on your site…

Share This Image on Your Website
Free Dentures and Dental Care Infographic

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