I’m wondering what my options are for finding cheap dental care without insurance. In June 2018, I was laid off from my job. In March of this year, I was hired by as a contractor, so I don’t qualify for benefits. I admit that I haven’t taken the best care of my teeth. My stressful employment situation has increased my teeth grinding habit, and last week I felt a tooth crack while I was asleep. I realize that something needs to be done before the crack spreads. Is it possible to get cheap dental care even though I don’t have insurance, or is the issue too serious for treatment to be affordable?
It’s probably best to avoid seeking cheap dental care. If a dentist is able to significantly cut costs, you should consider if it will include shortcuts and compromising the quality of dental care you receive.
Care You Can Afford
You can get dental insurance on your own. Major insurers have policies similar to what is offered through an employer, including the level of coverage. Your premiums will cost more than they would if the insurance was provided through an employer who subsidized the premium costs.
Find a dental practice that offers special financial arrangements. Call a few dental offices and ask if they offer a cash discount or if the practice partners with a financing company like CareCredit®. CareCredit offers interest-free payment plans if you pay off the balance within a specified time period, otherwise, you might owe retroactive interest.
Receive treatment in phases. If you need multiple procedures, your dental office can provide a treatment plan and let you know the order in which you should receive each procedure. Often treatment can be provided in phases if it doesn’t compromise your oral health.
Tell your new dentist about your teeth grinding habit. You can cause further damage to your teeth if they aren’t protected from teeth grinding. They can break, loosen, and create issues with your jaw muscles. Your dentist will provide you with a nightguard to protect your teeth while you sleep. You can also learn techniques to keep your tongue, lips, and jaw in the optimal position to prevent teeth grinding throughout the day.
Search for high-quality dental care.
View each dentist’s website or call the office for information on payment options if you don’t have dental insurance.
Schedule a consultation with at least two dentists to discuss your oral health, treatment options, and if the treatment can be completed in phases.
Can you give me some advice on an affordable dentist? We have a family of 6 and no dental insurance. My husband’s job provides medical insurance only and our 22 year old daughter has had a toothache for about 2 months now. We know she needs a root canal but we want it done right. And we don’t want a dentist who is just going to insist on pulling the tooth because we don’t have insurance. I have already been to an affordable dentist who I thought was disrespectful when I needed 2 dental fillings. They didn’t overcharge me. I just don’t like the way I was treated and now one of the fillings is getting loose. Now I’m wondering if some steps were left out and I got a substandard filling. I’m really concerned about my daughter now. I want a dentist who is affordable and will do a good job on her tooth. Am I asking for too much? Thanks. Sara T.
Sara – You’re not asking for too much. You can find an affordable dentist who gives quality care. Although you can ask for quotes by phone, you have to know what services each quote includes so you can make a good comparison. An estimate might give you an idea of each dentist’s fees, though.
A dentist’s fees vary based on the dentist’s skill, location, and the quality of materials used. Sometimes super-low rates involve using cheaper materials and shortcuts in procedures. If the cost for your daughter’s root canal treatment is significantly lower than other dentists in the area, it might not be a high-quality procedure. If shoddy work is done on her tooth, the root canal will need to be repeated, and she might lose the tooth altogether.
Select a few high-quality dentists. Ask friends for recommendations. Ask each dental office what is done to provide affordable care to patients who don’t have dental insurance. Payment plans or financing might be an option to help your family get affordable dental care.
I lost dental coverage for myself and my wife. It expired on 6/30. The company offered us COBRA coverage but it 4 times more than the premium for the dental insurance we had. That is ridiculous. I don’t like the way the financial rep at our dentist sounded when she found out that we lost our coverage. How do I find a dentist who will accept us? Ted
Ted – We suggest that you get recommendations from friends or family members who like their dentist. After you get the recommendations, look at the dentists’ websites, or call the office, to find out what forms of payment are accepted. You will find that many offices accept credit or payment plans, or offer financing.
If you can’t get a recommendation from anyone, search online for an affordable dentist or a dentist who accepts patients that don’t have dental insurance. After you find four or five dentists who might be able to meet your needs, look online for patient reviews. You can schedule consultations with two or three of the dentists to help you make a final decision. If you need special care for your teeth, such as orthodontic or cosmetic treatment, be certain that the dentist you choose offers those services and is experienced with them.
My gums bleed every time I brush my teeth. I haven’t been to a dentist since I lost my dental insurance in 2012. If there something natural I can use to stop my gums from bleeding. Thanks KE
KE – Unfortunately, there isn’t anything you can do to stop your gums from bleeding. Your gums are inflamed from infection that will only get worse if a dentist doesn’t intervene.
Gingivitis, or inflammation of your gums, leads to periodontal (gum) disease. Progressive gum disease causes tooth roots to weaken, and teeth become loose.
Although you don’t have dental insurance, schedule an appointment with a dentist. Explain your financial situation and ask about payment plans or other arrangements that will make treatment affordable for you.
Treatment involves several deep cleanings to remove the bacteria between your teeth and gums. Your gums and teeth can be restored back to health. From that point, regularly flossing and brushing your teeth will prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar on your teeth that lead to gum disease. Schedule an appointment right away.
This is not for me. I have dental insurance. I recently met a woman at a place where I volunteer who is in desperate need of dental care. She only has part-time work and she has no dental insurance. I am wondering where to look to help her find free dental treatment in Plano. Justyce
Justyce – Your sincere concern for someone else’s oral health is commendable. There are dental clinics in the area who offer discounted, and in some cases, free services. A dental school is another option.
And you may be surprised at how many local dentists may be willing to help. Make a few calls, explain the situation, and you may find a good response. Verification from the organization for which you volunteer may be required. If you cannot find any free care, you will be able to find a dentist who can make treatment affordable for your acquaintance.
Hi. I need some extensive dental work done. I have priced some local dentists and the costs are outrageous. Now I want to explore my options out of the U.S. Since Mexico is relatively close, I am starting there. How can I get quality dentistry there that I can afford? Thanks in advance. T.M.
T.M. – We do not at all recommend that you seek dental treatment in Mexico. You can get dental treatment at a lower cost there, but there are reasons for it.
Mexico has far fewer regulations on dentistry than the United States. Cleanliness, sterilization, malpractice insurance, and materials are left to the discretion of the dentist. There is no way to discern the quality of materials used in your mouth, nor is there a way to determine if proper sanitation is practiced to keep you free of unwanted germs and infection.
If there is a complaint, you will be able to file one through the government, but there is nothing in place to ensure that the work is corrected or that you are refunded.
We recommend that you speak with qualified dentists in the U.S. who offer financing or payment plans, or who make the work affordable for you by doing it in phases to spread out your payments. The limitations of your budget will be respected, and you will receive quality, regulated dentistry.
After my last dental cleaning, I was told that I needed 2 fillings. No problem. I made the appointment and returned last week for the fillings. While I was in the chair, the dentist said something about 4 fillings and another appointment for preparing my teeth for the crowns. I am certain that I was told that I needed only 2 fillings and nobody said anything to me about crowns. When I asked about it his response was sort of like with the condition of my teeth surely I knew that crowns were needed. Why wouldn’t this be discussed with me? I can’t afford this work any time soon. Is it common for work to be planned on a patient without discussing it with the patient? Sonja
Sonja – Any dental treatment planned or in progress should be thoroughly explained to you. In addition to recommended treatment, your options should be discussed with you.
If it’s necessary treatment, your dentist should be able to give you options as to how the treatment can be made affordable for you. Often treatment can be done in phases, or payment options can be discussed with you.
At this point, you should discuss your concerns with your dentist. If you are not satisfied with the response from your dentist, you can consider getting a second opinion.
I need to have two crowns on my back, left molars. I have been looking online for an affordable dentist and I found your site but I live 6 hours from your office. How can I find one? – Lottie
Lottie – In the search box for your web browser, enter the name of your city and the words “affordable dentist” (example: Plano affordable dentist).
Include the name of your city and the word “dentist” in every search. Then include words such as “financing,” “payment plans,” or “no dental insurance.” You will be able to find a dentist who explains the options for your treatment, some of which may be more affordable for you. Or a dentist may be able to do your work in phases. Many dentists offer no-interest financing or payment plans.
If you don’t see the details for financial arrangements on a dentist’s website, call his or her office for more information. Be sure to find a dentist with cosmetic dentistry training. You get natural-looking results that will make the investment in your smell worthwhile. Best wishes on your search.
I’m planning on getting a lot of dental work done this fall and I want it with sedation. I’ve heard that most insurance companies won’t pay for the sedation. How much does the sedation cost? – Simone
Simone – There are different types of sedation dentistry or comfort dentistry. Nitrous oxide is a colorless, odorless gas that you breathe in during treatment to help you relax.
Oral conscious sedation, the next level of sedation, involves taking a mild sedative in pill form. You will rest comfortably during treatment and you are unlikely to remember what happened during your appointment. Sedation medication can also be administered intravenously.
The cost of sedation depends, in part, on where in the U.S. the dentist is located, the type of sedation you receive, and the length of time it is needed for your dental procedure.
It is best to contact your dentist to find out the type of sedation used and an approximate cost. Contact your insurance provider to find out if any benefits for sedation dentistry are provided. If you will have out-of-pocket costs for sedation, your dentist may be able to make it affordable for you.
Is there a dental plan that will partially pay for Lumineers? – Thanks Judi
Judi – Lumineers are a brand of porcelain veneers. Porcelain veneers are one type of cosmetic dentistry. Generally, dental insurance doesn’t provide coverage for cosmetic dentistry.
Many dentists provide payment options for cosmetic dentistry. Credit cards, financing, and payment plans are often available. Speak with your dentist about your interest in porcelain veneers, and find out what forms of payment are accepted at the office.