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I Need Dental Work but Have No Money: 8 Options

Needing dental work is stressful enough without needing to worry about money. Read about eight options to get cheap, accessible dental care today.

Last updated on

July 19, 2023

Katharine Hall

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I Need Dental Work but Have No Money: 8 Options

Having a pearly white smile is something most people strive for, but tooth decay and gum disease are sometimes an inevitable part of getting a little older. These can cause some pain and discomfort to your physical health overall. This makes it imperative to get the care you need right away.

But dental insurance is not a part of regular health insurance plans and needs to be paid for (or covered by your employer) separately. In fact, only about half of all adults aged 18-64 in the country received dental coverage within the past year. That leaves millions of people without the care they need simply due to price.

Do not let the cost of care prevent you from feeling like the best version of yourself. Here are some amazing options to get dental care even if you don’t have a lot of money.

1. Try Flossy

Not having a dental insurance plan can be naturally stressful, especially if emergency dental implants, fillings, or wisdom teeth removal are in your future. But you don’t need to take out a second mortgage to feel healthy. No insurance? Perfect. Flossy is here to help.

Flossy is a service meant for people without dental benefits to make emergency and routine care affordable and easy to access. We can save you up to 50% on common dental treatments from root canals to teeth whitening — all without an insurance plan.

There are no monthly fees, no membership dues, and no annual premiums, so the transparent pricing that you see is the price you pay. You only pay for the services you receive, unlike insurance, which requires a monthly payment even if you never use it. Paying out of pocket has never seemed so tempting.

There’s also no waiting period to get access to affordable dental care, so find a dentist in your area today and get the relief that you’ve been searching for.

But what’s the catch? If we offer such low prices, it must mean that the quality of care is sub-par, right? Rest assured, our dentists are rigorously vetted against a set of in-depth criteria like degrees from accredited dental programs, excellent patient reviews, and knowledge of their craft. So you can have confidence that your low price is getting you high quality.

Find a dentist with Flossy today and feel better than ever tomorrow.

2. Dental Schools

All those talented dentists need to learn how to do their jobs somewhere, and dental schools are the place. Dental programs at accredited universities need their students to practice their craft on real people to get a sense of how the process works. With that in mind, since these individuals are still in a learning phase, they make low-cost dental care available to low-income families in the area.

The dental students themselves are not employed, so they don’t make any money from their treatment. Most of the time, you only need to pay the price of equipment and materials used, such as toothpaste or fluoride. Some schools might even offer free dental care for uninsured individuals.

While work from a dental school is done by someone in the learning stages, every student is supervised by a licensed dental professional. So you don’t need to worry that the quality of care is sub-par. In fact, since these students are so focused on doing a good job, you might get some of the best care ever from a dental clinic.

Most dental schools offer regular checkups and simple dental work, like fillings. But if you need orthodontic treatment like dentures or teeth extraction, you might need to look elsewhere.

3. Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have three federally funded programs to help individuals with lower income gain access to healthcare: Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP.


Medicare is reserved for elderly individuals aged 65 and over, and it covers people with specific disabilities. Under Medicare, dental coverage is limited, and this includes routine cleanings.

With that said, Medicare might cover specific dental procedures that you’d receive if you were in a hospital setting, and it can pay for hospital stays if you need to have emergency dental care.


Medicaid is a state-run service that provides medical benefits to eligible individuals. Since it is state-run, each state has different regulations regarding how the plan covers dental care.

Children under Medicaid are more likely to get coverage than adults. Dental services for children enrolled in Medicaid must include relief of pain and infections, maintenance of dental health, and restoration of teeth that have become damaged.

For adults, most states will provide emergency dental care under Medicaid. However, less than half currently provide comprehensive dental care, including cleanings, fillings, or other similar services.

CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program)

If you have a child under the age of 19 who needs health insurance, the CHIP program can provide services. It provides medical coverage and dental coverage (in most cases). While services covered vary by the state, just like Medicaid, you can expect that most states will allow your child to receive comprehensive dental care without needing to pay out of pocket for services.

4. Clinical Trials

Research universities or colleges are often conducting clinical trials to learn more about oral and dental health. These trials are often used to try out new equipment, technology, and more before it is released to the public.

By volunteering for these studies, you receive consistent medical care and close monitoring by a team of health professionals — all for free. Sometimes, you might even get paid for your involvement. Not to mention, you get to make an important contribution to medical research.

Of course, these are trials, so the outcome is never certain. And while you might run the risk of adverse effects, keep in mind that these trials are run by some of the brightest minds in dental care. You might be lucky enough to receive remarkable dental care before anyone else in the country.

5. Community Health Centers

Community health centers are federally supported health clinics aimed at making health care affordable. These are often run by licensed dentists or healthcare professionals to increase access to healthcare for individuals without insurance.

The cost of care at these facilities is usually determined on a sliding scale, varying depending on what you can afford. To learn more about these facilities in your area, visit the National Association of Community Health Centers to find one nearest you.

6. Dental Lifeline Network

The Dental Lifeline Network is a nonprofit organization that can help individuals aged 65 and over get the dental care they need. The network is composed entirely of volunteer dentists and it runs on donations, so the cost of care is free.

With that in mind, the waitlist is long, so if you need emergency dental care, you might need to look elsewhere. But for routine checkups and cleanings, this is a great option.

7. Dental Savings Plan

Some dental providers offer major discounts on dental care by paying a low monthly fee every month. In turn, you’ll receive up to 60% off on routine procedures. It’s sort of like insurance, but the difference is that monthly fees are lower, and you’ll pay more out of pocket for every procedure.

You can only receive services from the participating dentist to receive the discount. There are usually no annual limits or deductibles, so this is a good choice if you have one trusted dentist that you like to go to for regular services.

8. Negotiate Costs With Your Dentist

If you have concerns over the price of services with your dentist, it never hurts to have a conversation with them about what you can afford. Some dentists might be able to offer flexible payment plans or discounts upfront if you speak with them. Not to mention, they might be able to adjust your treatment plan to try to save you a little bit of money.

Steps To Keep Your Teeth Healthy

One of the best treatments for dental problems is to prevent them from happening in the first place. And you can save yourself some money and time by working to keep your teeth healthy at home.

Brush and Floss Regularly

Brushing and flossing are by far the most important steps to take in order to avoid dental problems down the road. When brushing, use a soft-bristled brush, use circular motions, and brush for a total of two minutes. You should hit each quadrant of your mouth for 30 seconds. Brush twice a day, morning and night.

Flossing is just as important, as it helps remove food debris in between the teeth that brushing might miss. Floss at least once a day, preferably at night before bed. The combination of these two can drastically help to prevent gum disease down the line.

Quit Smoking

Smoking can lead to lung cancer, oral cancer, and other health problems. If you are concerned about needing dental work but you don’t have money to spare, smoking is something you can cut out of your life.

Smoking increases your risk of gum disease and tooth loss. Not to mention, smokers do not heal as well as non-smokers, leaving you at risk for infections.

Eat Healthy

Certain foods like fresh fruit and vegetables can benefit your dental health because of their high nutritional value and their high levels of calcium. It’s always a good idea to load up on these and avoid sugary, starchy foods that foster bacteria in the mouth and can cause tooth decay.

In Conclusion

Needing dental work is stressful for anyone, but it can be even more stressful when you don’t have the money to pay for it. Considering nearly half of the country was without dental insurance in the past year, many people are looking for low-cost alternatives to get the care they need.

Dental clinics or trials are a great place to start for quality care at a low cost, but things like Medicaid, the Dental Lifeline Clinic, or Community Health Centers can benefit you just as much. 

But Flossy might be your best option for getting a wide access to dental treatments at up to 50% off of the national average – without insurance. From routine cleanings to emergency dental procedures, the price you see is the price you pay.

Find a dentist in your area today and give yourself something to smile about.


Regional Variation in Private Dental Coverage and Care Among Dentate Adults Aged 18–64 in the United States, 2014–2017 | CDC

Dental services |

What is a Community Health Center? | NACHC

Effects of smoking and vaping on oral health | BetterHealth

The Best Foods For A Healthy Smile and Whole Body | College of Dentistry | University of Illinois Chicago

Home | American Dental Association 

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