About free dental clinics

Written by cheryl grace myers
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About free dental clinics

If you need dental services and cannot afford the cost for care, you can get help through free dental clinics in your area. Hundreds of dental clinics across the nation provide oral care, at little or no cost. A joint effort between the federal and state government provide communities free dental services to those in need. You may qualify for free dental care. If you do not, you may still get affordable care from a qualified dentist.


Free dental clinics serve children and other areas of the population as required by law, such as the aged and disabled or low income families. Community-based dental clinics provide free services and affordable care to anyone in the community. For those who do not qualify for no cost care, they pay at cost, which is approximately one-tenth the rate that private dentists charge for similar services.


Many of the free dental clinics are in government-sponsored clinics or community centres, while others provide services at dental schools located in colleges and universities. A few of the clinics only serve a segment of the population, such as those for children or patients with HIV.


Every state must provide free dental services to those who qualify, but some states receive more funding from private contributions or state income tax to serve the community. States with more postsecondary education in dental health have more clinics available to serve the community when dental students need the experience to fulfil educational requirements.

Time Frame

Some dental clinics only provide services one month per year, while others serve throughout the year. Free dental clinics have a backlog of patients waiting for care, as private dentists do not want to participate in dental services for Medicaid patients due to the low reimbursement rates.


Federal law requires that each state set mandatory benefits for those in certain populations, such as children and seniors, or adults living below the poverty level. Only children on Medicaid have thorough dental coverage, but adults on Medicaid may only receive emergency dental care.

Expert Insight

The American Dental Association (ADA) continues to urge Congress to maintain the federal requirement to cover dental services for children and medically necessary services to adults, while preserving government funding and updating formulas for changing economies.


The ADA continues to stress to Congress the need for more access to dental care for all Americans by reaching out to the parts of the population that qualify for free dental care, and improving financing terms to those who qualify. Those less privileged do not qualify for financing, but middle income families need available financing with acceptable financing terms.

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