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Dental Grants For Low-Income Adults: How To Qualify

Written by: Jody Adams
Last updated: January 31, 2024

If you don't have money in the bank to pay for expensive dental work, financial assistance programs can help. If you are cash-strapped and can't afford treatment for your bad teeth, there are ways to get your teeth fixed. Finding the right resources, however, is not always easy.

The federal government does not provide dental grants for low-income adults for personal use. Organizations that provide charitable services have limited funding and strict eligibility requirements. There are few free services, and most require some form of self-payment.

The opportunities are not always clear-cut, so adults must follow a road map to find them.

Dental grants for low-income adults and other types of funding are available from some organizations to make dental care more accessible to a wider population, such as dental implants, cosmetic dental grants, or dental grants for kids and adults. With these grants, those needing expensive dental procedures can have those procedures completed for free or at a low cost.

Services Covered Under Dental Grants For Low-Income Adults

It is not uncommon for dentists to perform pro bono work for a small number of local patients who fit a certain profile. Pro bono refers to services provided for the public good and could involve services provided to low-income adults at no charge. The various dental grants available to low-income adults cover the following services:

Implants

Dental implants are extremely expensive; the average cost for a single tooth without insurance is about $4,000. Due to the extremely high costs, no free dental implant programs are often available. Other providers are involved in the process, though you might find a prosthodontist willing to provide free services.

  • Implant placement and bone grafting by an oral surgeon
  • The components (body, abutment, crown) are fabricated in an outside lab

However, you may be able to reduce your costs with other financial assistance options significantly.

  • Benefits from tax savings
  • A clinical trial
  • Scheduling payments

Dentures

There are many misleading headlines you might find online that claim to offer free dentures for seniors who have low incomes. You might be able to replace missing teeth with pro bono work from your local dentist, but you shouldn't expect to pay anything for the work.

It is necessary to have dentures manufactured by an outside lab at a cost charged by the dentist. To avoid these costs, don't expect your local provider to shoulder them. When dentists donate their time and expertise, zero-cost diagnostics and denture fitting are not unreasonable.

Braces

There could be a great deal of difficulty in finding free dental braces for adults. Parents can find many resources offering financial assistance with orthodontia for their children.

Tooth Extractions

No-waiting-period dental insurance can be an effective self-help program for people seeking to have their rotten teeth pulled. It will not be free to have your teeth extracted, but replacing them could save you a lot of money in the long run.

You cannot purchase dentures or implants after the extraction when you have missing teeth. To avoid the restriction, enroll before your dentist removes your teeth.

Wisdom Teeth

Most people needing their bone-impacted third molars extracted are eligible for free wisdom teeth extraction because their medical insurance covers most of these costs. Therefore, a dental plan is not necessary.

As part of the federal health insurance program, Medicaid covers most of the country. As a result, many low-income adults can get their wisdom teeth removed at no cost if they are impacted into their jawbones.

Dental Schools

Do not spend too much time searching for local dental schools that provide free services. Many online resources include headlines suggesting this is a nationwide problem. 

Students practice their craft under the supervision of dental school faculty by recruiting residents. However, college-based clinics determine their fees and eligibility criteria for discounted services. Accredited dental programs are listed by state by the American Dental Education Association.

Free Surgery

Health insurance billing can sometimes result in nearly free dental surgery (Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP, or private plans). Contractual obligations usually cover medical expenses deemed necessary by these plans.

It is common for health insurance to cover oral surgery as a primary payer for elective procedures.

  • Wisdom teeth with bony impacted roots need to be extracted
  • Surgical treatment for TMJ or sleep apnea in the jaw
  • Removing broken teeth after a fracture of the jaw

Emergency Services

Dental assistance programs with alternative labels are sometimes available to adults without insurance or money set aside for emergency work. A rotting tooth can cause excruciating pain, but you may find relief after seeking urgent care.

  • Medicaid covers low-income households nationwide for emergency oral care, often retroactively paid for three months
  • Health insurance covers emergency oral care resulting from non-biting accidental injuries and treatments from a covered disease, such as cancer
  • In a non-biting accident, hospital charity programs provide emergency treatment for pain relief or infection treatment to uninsured patients

Types Of Dental Grants For Low-Income Adults

Since few funding organizations provide dental grants directly to individuals, finding dental grants for low-income adults will be difficult. You might be tempted to look for dental grants for low-income adults because they represent free money you do not need to repay. The importance of setting proper expectations cannot be overstated.

Government Dental Grants 

There are grants available to pay for dental care, not in the form of financial assistance that people expect — the federal government awards grants to universities, state agencies, and non-profit organizations rather than individuals.

Start by visiting Grants and see where free government money comes from. From there, you can apply for grants at any logical endpoint. Additionally, the federal government supports other programs that reduce or eliminate the cost of oral health care for low-income individuals.

  • Oral care is covered differently by Medicaid based on a patient's age:
    • All 50 states offer Medicaid coverage for children's dental care
    • You may be able to get Medicaid dental coverage, depending on where you live
  • The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) covers oral health services
  • Dental expenses are tax-deductible under the IRS tax code:
    • Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)
    • Unreimbursed expenses can be deducted

Dental Grants Program

The Dental Grants Program can lower the cost of implants, cosmetic dentistry, and other dental services. Participating dentists and your commitment will allow you to qualify for a dental grant, which will reduce the cost of your dental work by at least 25%, possibly up to 30%, depending on your procedure.

Since the grant comes from your dentist, it is automatically deducted from the cost of your treatment upfront, so there are no claim forms to fill out or reimbursement payments to wait for. An ideal candidate for this program is healthy, optimistic, and realistic.

Dental Grants For Low-Income Single Mothers

The low-income category includes dental grants for single mothers since they commonly earn very little income. Living alone and raising a child simultaneously makes it difficult for one parent to work as many hours or devote as much time to improving her resume.

Also, single mothers often face a wide range of financial challenges when raising children independently without a partner's assistance. The specialty programs can assist by making dental care more affordable.

Dental Grants For Disabled Adults

Two Social Security disability programs can pay monthly benefits for disabled adults so that one can use these monthly payments as dental grants for low-income disabled individuals:

  • A person who worked and paid FICA taxes can receive an average of $1,300 per month from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
  • You must have at least $2,000 in countable assets to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Disabled adults can also access grant money through charitable organizations. The Dental Lifeline Network, for instance, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides treatment and education to people who are unable to afford it and you may be qualified if:

  • You are permanently disabled or have a long-term health condition
  • You are over 65 years of age
  • Have fragile medical conditions

Dental Grants For Low-Income Recovering Addicts

As former methamphetamine and heroin users have bad teeth and spotty work history, they are usually less employable. Therefore, dental grants for recovering addicts fall under low-income eligibility. Other programs that might be able to help recovering addicts in related fields can be found in addition to the resources noted above.

A government agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides mental health and substance abuse services. It is one of the goals of SAMHSA to make sure that addicts in recovery know which local programs have been awarded grants by publishing a grant awards archive. The majority of this funding, however, goes towards the treatment and prevention of substance abuse.

The number of regional charities providing oral healthcare to former drug users is rising. For instance, Concord's Wally's War Against Addiction restores smiles to those affected by addiction.

Senior Citizens

Those who do not have 401K or IRA funds can qualify for dental grants because Social Security retirement benefits can leave them in poverty. Providing free dental care to the elderly is also slightly more realistic because two assistance programs may be available to them since many elderly people have very limited financial resources.

Who Is Eligible To Get Dental Grants For Low-Income Adults?

Dental procedure grants are controlled by precise criteria in every non-profit, corporation, state, or federally sponsored organization. For low-income adults applying for dental grants, it's essential to understand the specific requirements of the recipient organization. Dental grants are based on oral health, one of the most important factors. Doing this ensures that your oral health is adequate to handle a dental implant or surgery.

A qualified professional usually conducts an oral examination to determine an applicant's oral health. It is then easier for low-income individuals to be identified as suitable candidates for dental subsidies. When you complete the oral health exam, your dentist will recommend a grant-paying organization and prepare a treatment plan appropriate for your condition. You will then have a green signal to undergo a dental implant procedure by your dentist.

How To Apply For Dental Grants?

Upon determining your eligibility, you can fill out the online application form on the organization's website. Applicants for low-income dental grants should follow the following procedure:

  1. The candidate submits an online application.
  2. Employees verify and double-check the applicant's information and details in the application form.
  3. An applicant can receive a free examination and consultation from a dentist in the area who volunteers their time.
  4. Upon evaluating the patient's eligibility, the dentist provides the organization with appropriate suggestions.
  5. Dental treatment plans for low-income adults will be provided by the dentist as soon as the candidate becomes eligible for the dental grant.
  6. One key thing to remember: low-income dental grants are not a complete solution. Applicants for these partial scholarships are selected according to a per-capita, percentile-based distribution mechanism, which limits the number of successful applicants to a small number each year.

Conclusion

The health of one's teeth is one of the most prevalent concerns among adults. They have difficulty affording dental care because of its high cost. Most organizations do not cover dental insurance in their employee's wage package, so locating low-income dental grants can help you cover your dental expenses.

The lack of time and money has caused some people, especially adults, to neglect the health of their teeth. The importance of proper dental care has been recognized by several private and public organizations that provide low-income dental grants to help those in need.

Want a deeper dive into resources for dental care? Explore our comprehensive guide on available dental grants for individuals. Ensure you're tapping into every opportunity for affordable dental health!

Are you interested in learning more about different grants and programs that can help you with your living situation? Check out the rest of Gov Relations' blog section today!

Jody Adams
Jody Adams is an accomplished editor-in-chief with a deep understanding of social care and government benefits issues. With a background in journalism and a master's degree in Public Policy, Jody has spent her career shaping the narrative around social policies and their impact on society. She has worked with renowned publications, effectively bridging the gap between complex policy analysis and public understanding. Jody's editorial expertise ensures that vital information on social care and government benefits reaches a broad audience, empowering individuals to make informed decisions.
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