Autumn gives us many reasons to smile, such as colorful, changing leaves, seasonal treats like pumpkin pie and apple crumble, the start of the school year, and so much more. However, without access to affordable dental care, it may be difficult to smile. Benefits.gov recognizes the importance of dental health and access to associated resources and has some helpful tips for those seeking dental care.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) supports many federally funded community health centers, some of which provide access to free or low-cost dental care. These health centers are here to serve you, even if you choose not to have health insurance; you pay only what you can afford. These centers all provide checkups and treatment when you are sick. You can find a health center near you using HRSA’s Find a Health Center. We encourage you to contact the center nearest you directly to inquire about dental services.
In addition to HRSA health centers, many dental schools and dental hygiene schools provide good quality, low-cost dental services. These schools allow their students to gain hands-on experience by providing reduced-cost dental treatment, and they are supervised by experienced, licensed dentists. You can search for dental programs through the American Dental Association (ADA), and contact these programs directly to ask about student-provided dental services.
Federal programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), may also cover dental services for some beneficiaries. Medicaid dental coverage differs by state; some offer limited emergency dental services for those over age 21, while others offer more comprehensive dental care. Most Medicaid programs offer dental services to those under age 21. CHIP, which covers children up to age 19 who do not have health insurance, offers dental services to most of its beneficiaries. Again, CHIP dental services differ by state.
We recommend calling your state or local health department to ask about dental programs for low-income individuals. You can use this directory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to find out how to contact your state health department. Also, it’s a good idea to contact your local United Way for information on dental services in your community.
It can be a challenge to find affordable dental care, but these resources may make the process easier. We hope you get the dental care you need and keep smiling throughout the year. Be sure to take the Benefit Finder questionnaire to find other benefit programs you may be eligible for.