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Saving Money on Dental Work

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Dentist Examining Woman's Teeth
Finding ways to cut the high cost of dental care is possible. This guide is about saving money on dental work.


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By 1 found this helpful
March 20, 2008

Is there a university medical center near you? I have had my entire mouth repaired (and I needed a lot!) at the Dental School of the university at a fraction of what it costs in the mainstream. I went there because I wasn't satisfied with my dental care in the mainstream market. I can't say enough good things about the care given at the school. Dental students are nearing their degree in dentistry and are very carefully supervised by a teaching dentist with advanced degrees. Truly, the best decision I ever made in the medical arena. And yes, in my experience they take credit cards, checks, and cash. Nobody hounds you to pay on the day of service. Make those calls!


By Lois from Pennsylvania and Western NY

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February 8, 20132 found this helpful

For the many people without dental insurance, there are sometimes affordable ways to get the needed work done. This is a guide about getting dental work done without insurance.

A woman getting dental work done.

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August 26, 2012

Many local dental schools offer free or low cost care. You can find your local dental school here:


Source: AARP Bulletin

By Lizzyanny from Pacific Northwest


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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

April 14, 20060 found this helpful

The company I work for doesn't have dental coverage. Does anyone know of a good source for dental insurance? We have eye converage but no dental insurance. I may qualify as low income.

Janet in Golden, CO

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 18, 20060 found this helpful
Best Answer

Check with your bank, car/house insurance company or even Sams Club. All have medical/dental/life insurances available for reasonable prices.

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November 14, 20101 found this helpful

My teeth are infected, and hurt bad, I have no job, no money, I have to pay $100.00 to get in to see my doctor. What can I do?

By ttexas from Jacksonville, TX

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December 17, 20100 found this helpful

If I had money to go to Mexico, or fly somewhere to get my teeth fixed, I would not be on here, but I appreciate your help. I live in the sticks in E. Texas, 200 hundered miles from a Dental school They don't have Catholic Charities for dental work. Going somewhere off, cost money for a motel for a week or two, out of the question. Just no way for poor people to get help.Guess thats the American way! Thanks to all that tried to help.

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By 0 found this helpful
April 22, 2010

Has anyone from the U.S. had any experience with going to Tijuana for dental care? I am trying to figure out what's important here. I'm skeptical about going alone and also what I might encounter there that I haven't anticipated. Any recommendations? How do I choose from the advertised programs?

I have a limited amount budgeted, about 1/3 of what I need for here in the States. I'm concerned that even with an estimate, that I might encounter expenses or experiences that I'm not equipped to handle.

I'm 76 years old. I hope to have one of my daughters travel with me. Would like to stay in San Diego if I can find an affordable place.

By Carolyn from Clovis, CA

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June 10, 20100 found this helpful

Hi - I do not know about Mexico but have read both good and bad (more good than bad).

I just wanted to comment about the dental schools. The dental school at UF in Gainesville, FL works out of the Shands Hospital and nothing is free or even near it!

If you need a tooth pulled you have to be at the hospital (no appointments) at 7 AM and wait to see if you qualify and if they can see you. If you qualify they will give you an appointment for later in the day or the following day. If they "fill up" before you are called then you have to return the next day and start all over again.

The work will include an x-ray and pulling of the tooth (this does not include anything complicated) and the cost at present time is 90.00.

I do not know if they accept Medicaid but the normal person will have to pay or not get the work done.

Maybe someone else has a better "school" than we have but this is no bargain considering all the problems.

If you want other services then you have to apply to their dental school and if they need some practice with your "problem" they will set you up for work but that may take several days and you have to be available anytime they say (in advance) and that is not good for working people.

They have "regular" dental services but these are just the same as any dentist charges.

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By 1 found this helpful
November 13, 2012

Well, here goes and please bear with me. About 10 years ago I had some cosmetic dental work done and obviously I had to pay out of pocket. My teeth looked so much better and I felt good about myself.

Then the problems arose. When my parents and siblings saw my dental improvements, they verbally/mentally attacked me for having work done that wasn't covered by insurance. They have a mantra, that only procedures covered fully by insurance can be done. Weird and dysfunctional, yet true. Then my husband jumped on the bandwagon and sided with them. I paid for braces which I badly needed and had chipped teeth repaired, that's all!

Well, as a result of all this abuse, I just quit going to the dentist. Not a good decision, but the dysfunction and verbal bullying was just too much for me. Now my front teeth are wearing away (dentin is showing and discolored). I have many cavities and my overbite is bad. I don't think I can go through family bullying again, but need help paying for all the work that really needs to be done. I feel so bad about myself. I'm stuck.

Anybody have an idea if there's a good dentist/insurance underwriter that could help me? Please only sincere help. Thanks so much. I don't smile much anymore.

By Tara Lee

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November 19, 20120 found this helpful

I know if you live in Texas, and this is probably the case in every state, you can call any dental college & they can help you-the price is around $50 for a complete evaluation & the dental work is discounted at least 1/3 of average dental offices. Some County Health Departments also provide care.

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July 16, 20120 found this helpful

I am in so much pain all my teeth are bad and need to come out. I can't eat or sleep. I am pregnant and I can't give my baby what it needs if I can't even feed myself? Can anyone help me please? I haven't gotten to sleep in 4 days and I am so hungry I can't stand up. It has taken all I have to type this. Can anyone help me with suggestions for inexpensive dental work options.

By Anastasia B.

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July 18, 20120 found this helpful

Go to

to locate a federally funded health center that provides medical and dental care with sliding-scale fees based on your ability to pay.

Call a dental school or go to

to get information about free or low-cost care

AARP Bulletin July-August 2012

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By 0 found this helpful
February 22, 2011

I have a huge dental bill. How can I find money or a way to work this out? I love my dentist and he has been working with me. I have applied for disability with hopes to receive that by November, but he can't work on my teeth until I pay more on my balance. Any ideas?

By Sue from Warsaw, VA

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March 1, 20110 found this helpful

Check your local universities. I live by the University of MN, and they have a dental school. its much cheaper to get dental work done there, and they dentist are in their last years of school, very well trained and supervised.

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April 17, 20120 found this helpful

I will be 60 in a few months. I can not work and I need major dental work. I do not have many teeth left and probably need dentures. Where can I find cheap dental work?

By Cindy R.

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April 19, 20120 found this helpful

I don't know where you live but we live in New Jersey. My husband is on SSI (disability) and he is going to UMDNJ in Newark which is a teaching hospital.

He had gotten prices for a bunch of dental work and dentures for about $8800 from a private dentist but after going to this teaching hospital its going to cost about $3500 $4000. Check to see if you have a teaching hospital or dental school near you. Also check to see if your nearest hospital has a dental clinic. Hope this helps.

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March 2, 20130 found this helpful

I know that this question has been asked a thousand times, but does anyone know of some fundraising options to pay for dental work? I have had a medical issue that has resulted in serious dental problems. I need extensive work done and I am just a bit short of my goal.

This is what I have already done:
I applied and qualified for state insurance to pay for most of it. And have gone through all the treatment for all the basic work that the state covered. I had the treatment done at the local dental school, I am lucky enough that mine is Marquette, which is one of the top dental schools in the country.

I have saved $4000.00 for the rest of the treatment plan that my dental student is recommending. She is trying to save the remaining uppers with bridges and crowns. I will have to have a partial on the bottom which is covered by medicaid. The dental school requires half of the payment before and half when they are done. Even with the reduced prices her latest treatment plan is more like $6000.00. She has said that they would fit the molds for all of them at once so the bridges and crowns match . So waiting and doing them one at a time is not an option.

I am trying to find a way to raise the remaining amount. I have looked at sites like pay it forward, but they seem to depend a lot on social connections that are not really available to me. I cannot find any grants on the subject to apply for. I feel like I have exhausted my options, does anyone have other suggestions?

By Tresa T.

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March 4, 20130 found this helpful

Could you finance the rest by opening a Care Credit credit card? This is a card specifically for medical costs (you can even use it for veterinary services). Care Credit has different plans where you don't pay any interest for a certain amount of months if the money is paid back by then. You can apply for Care Credit on line.

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October 12, 20120 found this helpful

How can I apply for financial assistance for dental surgery? I need either a flipper or an implant as soon as possible! Or do you know if Palm Beach Health Care District covers dental implants? I had a tooth extracted in July and need a quick fix! Thanks.

By Michele R.

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October 14, 20120 found this helpful

Hello, I believe you will have to check your local area as every place seems to have different rules and services. Some require that you be on some assistance program and others just ask a lot of questions.

One thing though - I do not believe that any of them will pay for implants as this is considered "cosmetic" and is very expensive. You can sometimes get assistance with what is considered "necessary" dental services.

You may need to just keep asking around your county and churches some time help find services.

Good luck

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March 9, 20120 found this helpful

I need help with dental bills. I am disabled and receive SSD. My husband has dental insurance, but it doesn't pay much. I started work on getting partial plates. Now I have bills for extractions of $900 and insurance only paid 300. The plate for the top alone is $1400. I also just had fillings in top and my co pay was $200. I need help, as I am unable to pay and the doctor says to get caught up or no more work. Thank you.

By Nora

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

November 14, 20100 found this helpful

My husband needs dental help very badly, we are on a limited income, but can get a little help with dental insurance. I am confused by the choices and need a compassionate dentist in our area. He will probably have to have extensive work. Any feedback appreciated.

Kersti from Bellevue


Dental Care on a Limited Budget

One of the first things I have done when I moved to another state was contact local hospitals or pediadentists (dentists just for children). I asked them to recommend a compassionate dentist/oral surgeon. I am nervous when it comes to my mouth and I also have sensitive teeth. I was pleased with the recommendations I received. A dentist may recommend an oral surgeon, depending on the work your husband has to have done. Just be sure to ask him the same question about your concerns. Hope this helps! (11/28/2005)

By Michelle H

Dental Care on a Limited Budget

Also, ask the hospital if there are any dental schools in your area, maybe at a local university. Many of them perform dental work at reduced prices. Good luck! (11/28/2005)

By Joankay

Dental Care on a Limited Budget

Try the local health clinics. Here in Kentucky, some of our health clinics have a 'dental day' once a month, and you pay according to your income. I hope your area has this same type of program. God bless. (11/28/2005)

By Julia.

Dental Care on a Limited Budget

A while back my friend found that he needed several thousand dollars worth of dental work. He was on a low income, and didn't have dental insurance. His solution was to fly to Costa Rica and get the dental work done there. The doctors and dentists there are often US trained, or trained by US physicians, so the care is basically the same as what you would get here. Because Costa Rica depends on tourist dollars, it's possible to get cheap flights and accommodation is also really inexpensive. He paid less than a third of what he would have paid to get the work done in the US, and he got a nice trip to Costa Rica in the deal. (01/16/2006)

Dental Care on a Limited Budget

I would look up sliding scale dentists on the internet or sliding scale medical care and then put your city and state and see what you come up with. Sometimes it is better to get the teeth pulled then to do extensive work on them. Just remember not to suck on a straw or any kind of sucking motion with your mouth after an extraction to prevent dry sockets.

Racer (03/06/2009)

By Robyn Fed

Dental Care on a Limited Budget

It is never too soon to start a savings account for dental needs, it can be as little as ten dollars a week or so, and it adds up soon.

Racer (03/06/2009)

By Robyn Fed

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