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Saving Money on Dental Work

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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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February 8, 20132 found this helpful

A woman getting dental work done.

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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.


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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July 18, 20120 found this helpful

This is terrible. Somebody please come up with an answer for Lois. Surely there is some public assistance for people in this situation.

I thought that she lived in the developing world when I first read her post.

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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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September 18, 20120 found this helpful

The website that you need to find your local dental school is:

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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.

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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November 16, 20100 found this helpful

The dental schools might be able to help. Our community in Iowa just had a free dental clinic. People lined up a day ahead and slept in cold weather in sleeping bags just to get the free help. So it is obvious we need some help. Try the dental schools and as MCW suggested, look at the archives.

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November 16, 20100 found this helpful

We have the same situation and found that going to Mexico, you now need a passport, but we got the card one (about $100), not a passport book. It is well worth it to even fly down and get a motel room for major work, a $2000 crown in the US is about $300 in Mexico. The dentists are American trained. Every procedure is about 1/3 or less what a US dentist charges. A cleaning is $15 and well done; root canal is way less. We drive down for Thanksgiving every year and plan our dental visits at that time. WE call and make appointments, find the office clean and neat, and the personnel very personable and helpful. We go to Progresso TX and cross there. Most of the other 'portals' seem too dangerous, but we've never encountered any problems. Good luck! If I knew how to send you the Dr. name I would.

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November 16, 20100 found this helpful

Go to your local Social Service's office for help of all kinds ~ keep us informed on what you do!

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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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By guest (Guest Post)
April 21, 20060 found this helpful

Smile Savers is pretty inexpensive. Costco offers members some discounted plan for vision, dental, medical and even up to $500 deductible...its $19 a month. Good luck.(

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By guest (Guest Post)
January 12, 20080 found this helpful

Hi Janet, will give you a very good price! And it's available for your whole household for just $19.95 a month! There are 6 of us on it! AND, they also threw in vision, chiropractic, and prescriptions!

How cool is that? I found them when i had a BAD toothache and needed a root canal. I signed up right online and had the plan that day! Saved a bundle! Hope this helps! Erika

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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 15, 20120 found this helpful

I feel for you I am going through the same thing as for as my teeth I have had cancer and several surgeries and I have a incurable bladder disease so I am on disability with a very limited income. I have the gum disease periodontal disease and I have already had 2 teeth to just break off and I still have the roots. All my teeth are extremely loose.

I have done some research to find someway I can get some help trying to get this major and life threatening problem taken care of because if you cannot eat and get a infection it is then very serious.

I 1st looked on the internet and found some different areas where you can go and pay based on your income the requested $45.00 to do a oral exam and xrays and then they let you know what you qualify for but I have not had the $45.00 to make a appointment. Here is the website there was about 5 different locations within a hour driving distance from me. But I am not sure if they all work the same one told me being I had 2 broke off roots I would have to have a surgeon to remove those 2 at the price of $225.00 per root and I would have to have this done before I could ever get dentures and that I might want to check into a insurance to help me pay there is some kind of dental insurance that helps you pay along as you go kinda like a credit type thing but I do not know anything about this.

Also I called my local senior center even though I am only 50 to see if they might could refer me to someone or give me some information. They did tell me there was a program that if you had certain health problems they help up to $500.00 you have to fill out paper work and it has to go before a board and you have to have a dentist to give you a detailed report to what needs done and the expected cost. And they only meet every 4 months and of course they are others ahead of you. And the qualifications are strict but it might be worth calling around and check into in your area.

My teeth just need to all be pulled on top so insurance might not be the best method for me I am not sure I can wait before more of my teeth break off and then that would mean a surgeon would have to do the work costing several more hundreds of dollars. What I really need is to just get all the one's on top pulled at one time would be the ideal thing but I don't have the money to do that and 1 at a time will cost $75.00 to $125.00 per tooth.

The lady that I talked to about the last program I mentioned was very nice and very helpful as for as willing to help me anyway she could as for as me filling out the paper work or answering any questions. And she sent me the application over the computer to my email. She also advised me of some other churches, local organization that helps in the event one won't help the other might.

So if I was you I would try these things I mentioned by looking on the internet by searching under google help paying for dental work. Look on the website I gave you and calling any and all numbers in your area of any kind of on council on aging,dentist and ask for referrals tell them what you are looking for and just don't give up and keep calling and somewhere there should be something.

I just started this last month so I have not found out at this point what I am going to be able to get done but I do have about 4 different options and hopefully one of them will help me get the serious problem taken care of.

I wish you lots of luck and just keeping on trying it can get discouraging but you cannot live a healthy life without teeth. If I can be of any help please just post and I will reply. Have a good day and a good Thanksgiving. God takes care of his children.

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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 17, 20120 found this helpful

Check out for a location near you. The one here is so affordable and very helpful and friendly.

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July 17, 20120 found this helpful

I'm sorry for the typo - it's

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July 17, 20120 found this helpful

I have been in the same situation but not pregnant. First off, waiting for this to post is not a good use of your time. By now you would realistically be in the hospital.

Please call your local assistance office and see if you can't get some help. Call St. Vincent de Paul and Salvation Army. As a last resort, go to the emergency room. They have to help you regardless of your income and to save your baby, they would be the ones to stop the pain. As redhattrb suggested, I lived for 3 weeks on the following diet:

Instant mashed spud soup (simply put in an extra cup of water or milk).

Instant spuds and gravy.




And of course, lots and lots of vitamins.

Another option is to get a blender and puree everything. It's amazing what you can make when it's all you have.

Please get some help. I will be up nights worrying now.


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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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April 24, 20100 found this helpful

Hello, Speaking from experience here, I did get my dentures in Mexico. I have relatives in Texas and stayed with them while getting my work done. I ended up having to have some bone surgically removed so saw a dental surgeon along with the dentist my relatives had recommended. Both were very clean, friendly, spoke good English and nice. They are licensed just as our dentists are should come with good reputations or you would not go to them here in the states either.

I know how it feels to be the minority, scarry, but they are just people the same as we are and if you go to a safe area there is nothing to worry about. Tijuana is not safe for what I hear but I shouldn't judge. I do know what I ended up having done would have cost around $4,000 here and I paid $1,500 total there.

I would not suggest going to Tijuana for dental care if you don't have a recommendation first. Also because of the danger factor I would not go without checking into getting a dentist that provided a ride from the border to his office. My BIL's dentist in Mexico did this for him, then took him back to the border to his own vehicle when he was done.

Just deciding to get dentures was the easy part for me, now that I have them. It is a huge adjustment to get used to them. Some people have no trouble at all and then there are others such as myself that do.

Please take time to consider if you can get by without dentures, if having a partial or other choices such as implants is a possibility I would recommend it. I wish someone would have talked to me about the choices before hand. My local dentist warned me but couldn't tell me from personal experience what it might be like. I am so stubborn I would probably not have listened anyway but at least I would have been warned. If you want to hear more from my personal experience feel free to contact me.

It is a big decision you are faced with, so take your time and check into the safety factor. You are worth so much more than the money. I wish you the best.

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April 24, 20100 found this helpful

One other thought, you have to have a passport. We got the "little" one. Can only cross American borders or go on cruises -- no flying. Costs a lot less than a full fledged passport. Also we are very happy with our dentist in Mexico (we live in Arkansas). Our "snowbird" friends recommended the one we go to. Would not got without a recommendation. Clean, modern, friendly and caring!

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April 24, 20100 found this helpful

I can't understand why anyone would want to go to Mexico period but especially to have dental work done. There are plenty of places that you can go that does not charge to much. These people don't know anything about you and if you have problems then you will need to go back to Mexico to have it fixed. You don't need to be dentist hopping from here to there! Good luck with what ever you do.

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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 18, 20120 found this helpful

I'm going to try this again as my first answer didn't go through.

Don't forget to check out medical and dental discount programs. They are not insurance mind you but discount plans. We use Ameriplan Dental because we have no dental insurance. We were looking at close to $9000 for my son's braces without insurance now we are paying close to $2000 with the discount dental plan.

Hope this helps.

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April 19, 20120 found this helpful

If you have a dental school in your area, often times they will offer discounted dental services, the students are supervised by dentists while performing the work. Also some dentists will allow you to set up a payment plan.

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April 19, 20120 found this helpful

I do not have insurance either and I found that I needed dental work too.

So I called up the dental school where I live and they had me come in for an interview to see if I was ellegable. I was and now I am getting all my dental work done for 60% off of regular practice prices. The students do a great job and I feel that they give better attention to you. Call around, it's worth the looking.

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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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February 23, 20110 found this helpful

If you have a big medical bill that you are forced to pay - at least be sure to claim medical deductions when filing taxes!

I've done this for a few years and it's awesome. Once I knew I would be able to claim medical deductions, you can add on all sorts of things - mileage to/from the doctor, contact lenses, glasses, contact lens solutions, co-pays, prescriptions... the list goes on and on.

If it's a really big bill, it may be in your best interest to split the bill over 2 years - consult a tax person with that question.

Here's the irs site link: http://www.irs.  ublink1000178851

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February 23, 20110 found this helpful

Sue, In the mid-70's I had to have huge amounts of dental work done because I slipped and fell when I was seven and landed mouth first on the edge of a cement curb. Anyway, once I was in my early twenties the pain became unbearable and I had to have several root canals, an apeoectomy, 2 caps, and a bridge (it's normal that problems and pain doesn't occur until early adulthood from this type of injury).

Anyway, the place I was working for at the time closed up shop and hence I lost my dental insurance before all the work was finished. It had to be done so the dentist did it but thereafter he said the same to me which was that there could be no more work done after the original problems were finished until it was paid in full.

Well, he worked with me and it took me years to pay him off and in the meantime I went to dental clinics that would work with me on a sliding scale according to my earnings for general upkeep. Eventually, I was able to go back to that original dentist and he remained my dentist for a couple more years (payment in full at time of service even if it meant I had to save for it first) before I moved away.

Please know you are not alone! Just do the best you can and even if all you can pay the dentist is $5.00 a month for awhile please do so. I am sure your dentist will be accepting and especially if he/she knows you've become disabled. I too am disabled now and neither Medicaid nor Medicare will cover dental upkeep so I am again going to a sliding scale clinic. They are compassionate and will help you keep your teeth in good care. Good luck to you in receiving disability and be good to yourself.

Hawaiihibou, I have a question to ask you. Have you ever wondered just who pays for that 'Free Federal Grant Money'? This 'you can take advantage/entitlementment attitude' is much of why our country is going bankrupt. :-( In my heart, true and wise Hibou's wouldn't even think do this kind of thing.

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February 24, 20110 found this helpful

Hello Sue. First of all, I appreciate you asking such good questions, but IMHO some (not all) of the responses on this thread are not offering sound advice.

Having a good doctor/dentist patient relationship is very important and you need to work to keep that relationship on firm ground. However . . . as much as these good medical professionals want to help, they still need your payment for their services. They have their own bills to pay, families to feed, etc., and can't do so if you are not paying for your services. Government (tax payer) reimbursement does not always cover the doctor's actual cost of doing business for these professionals and our American government has no Constitutional right to demand they do so at the expense of their own livelihoods.

Second, there is no such thing as "Free Government Grants". You may not be responsible for repaying them, but someone else surely is. Most times it's the middle class person or family making enough money to not be considered in the "poverty level", but never making enough money to afford the same benefits as the "government grant recipients."

Think about it . . . an average middle class person can't afford to pay for crowns or dentures either without some sort of arrangement or loan with the dentist, but as law abiding citizens contributing to the tax base, his or her tax dollars are being used to pay for a stranger's crowns or dentures and he or she or their children are often not eligible for "Free Government Grant" money. What's free or fair about that?

Third, you can of course take a lot of tax deductions for medical expenses but not without first contributing to actually paying taxes; and second, seldom without the additional cost of hiring a tax accountant to accurately interpret what is and isn't allowed in the U.S. Tax Code.

Again, Sue, I think your questions are legitimate and my best suggestion is to talk with your dentist honestly. Offer to pay at the very least $5.00 - $10.00 a week for prior services and do so religiously. Ask about loan financing that many dental offices are happy to help you look into. (Some even have an office business manager that can act as a liaison.)

If you are eligible for disability but have to wait until November for any acknowledgment of such, it's unreasonable to expect your dentist to suffer along with you until then (working without payment of any kind).

Talk frankly with your dentist and see if the two of you can come up with a good plan that will keep you pain free, but not necessarily with pearly white perfect teeth. As well, as Deeli stated, if this doesn't work out, find a sliding scale dental service that can work with your immediate or emergency needs.

Again, "Free Government Grants" are not "free". Someone, probably someone else who is doing without, is paying for these grants. I wish you much insight, good health, and success.

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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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