Even for those with plenty of money, the prices of dental procedures can be extremely high, and for those living in tighter economic situations – and who don’t have the luxury of having dental insurance – having their smile restored can be prohibitively expensive.
However, even if you don’t think you have anywhere near enough money to have expensive dental procedures carried out, there may still be options available to you – and to help you understand them, in this post, we explain how to get a free dental makeover.
How to Get a Free Dental Makeover from Charities and non-profit organizations
The first place to look if you can’t afford dental work is non-profit organizations and charities that are set up to help those in exactly this situation.
Here are some to look out for:
1. Smiles for Everyone
Smiles For Everyone is a non-profit organization that’s dedicated to providing dental care in the US and around the world to people who can’t afford it.
The organization organizes what’s known as Days of Giving, community events where basic and essential dental care is provided for free by volunteer dentists to those who need it most.
They also run a Smile Makeover program. For nominated patients, usually those who can’t receive the treatment they require at a Day of Giving, a full dental makeover is provided, again free of charge.
So while there’s no way of guaranteeing that you will be selected, if you are in need of this kind of treatment, this could be an option.
2. The Dental Lifeline Network
This organization was set up to help the over 65s and those with disabilities or chronic or serious illnesses who have no other way of paying for dental care.
The Dental Lifeline Network has been helping people in need of dental care since 1975, changing countless lives for the better in that time.
If you want to know if you are eligible for help or want to apply, the full details of the process can be found on their website.
3. Mission of Mercy
Mission of Mercy provides free dental care to those in need, and the organization has clinics present in many states. You can check the full listing to see if one is located near you on this page.
4. Give Kids a Smile
If you’re looking for free dental care or a dental makeover for a child, try contacting Give Kids a Smile.
This program is run by the American Dental Association and is dedicated to providing free dental care for children who have no other access to it.
The organization hosts events around the US each year, and since 2003, the initiative has helped over six million children.
If you have a child but can’t afford to pay for their dental care, you can check your options by visiting this page on the organization’s website.
5. Give Back a Smile
Give Back a Smile is an organization with a very specific goal, and that’s to help survivors of domestic and sexual abuse who need help repairing teeth that were damaged as a result of the physical abuse they received.
As survivors of this kind of violence, people like this need help and support to rediscover their confidence and to be able to smile again, and this is what this admirable organization has been set up to do.
If you think you or someone you know might be eligible for this kind of assistance, you can find more details on their website.
Give Back a Smile is dedicated to helping adults as well as children, so anyone who has suffered abuse may be eligible.
6. Dentistry from the Heart
Dentistry from the Heart is another non-profit organization that works to provide free dental care for those in most need of it.
Unlike some of the other non-profits we’ve listed, they focus more on only the most essential procedures rather than things like full makeovers. However, if you are in need of an urgent dental procedure and have no other way to pay for it, they may be able to help you.
How to Get a Free Dental Makeover from Government help
If you don’t qualify for free dental care or a dental makeover with one of the charities or non-profits offering such services, there are certain governmental aids that are worth investigating too.
However, the situation varies from state to state with regard to who and what is covered.
Children are covered in every state and are entitled to basic dental care.
However, not all states provide dental cover for adults, so if you’re enrolled in Medicaid, you’ll need to check to see what you can claim.
The bad news is that wherever you live, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get a full dental makeover covered by this program since it’s mainly designed to help with only the most essential procedures.
CHIP stands for Children’s Health Insurance Plan, and it provides coverage to children under 21.
Like Medicaid, what is covered varies from state to state, but it’s worth investigating to see if it can help you pay for essential dental procedures.
Other ways to get cheaper dental care
Although not free, these options are worth exploring if you can pay at least a part of the cost of dental care yourself.
Clinics with sliding scales
Some clinics in the US operate according to sliding scales, so people who earn less pay less for dental care, according to the country’s poverty guidelines.
You can check this website to locate the nearest clinics to you that operate on sliding scales. This site also has further information on other places where you may be able to find free dental care.
One excellent option for receiving far cheaper dental care is to go to a dental school for your procedure.
Before dental students are allowed to perform dental procedures in a real clinic, they need to practice – and they get this practice by offering dental procedures, including makeovers, at highly reduced rates under supervision at their schools.
Of course, the downside is that you will be entrusting your teeth to an inexperienced dentist who isn’t even fully qualified yet.
However, these students are still trained as dentists and already have the skills to carry out the procedures they offer.
And in the end, if you need work done on your teeth and you can’t afford to get it done any other way, this can be the ideal solution.
One way to reduce the costs of dental work – although far from being “free” – is to consider dental tourism.
Dental tourism involves traveling to another country where dental procedures cost far less than in the US, so even when you factor in the travel costs, the amount you pay still ends up being considerably less.
For people living in the US, traveling to Mexico is popular due to its proximity.
Further afield, places like Thailand have extremely low prices for dental and medical procedures but still boast world-class, state-of-the-art facilities.
If you’re interested in dental tourism in Thailand, here’s a video you might find like to see.
Take out insurance
If none of the other options we’ve mentioned seems appropriate for you, another option is to consider taking out dental insurance.
Of course, the mere fact that you’re looking for free options could well mean that you don’t have the resources for dental insurance.
However, it’s worth remembering that taking out a dental insurance plan can still work out much cheaper than paying for expensive dental procedures up-front.
So if you really need to have a procedure done and you have some way of finding the money for the plan, it could still be something to consider as a way of saving money.
When looking for a plan, among the most important things to consider are if the plan will cover the procedure you need to have done and how long you will have to wait before you can have the procedure done.
Some policies include a “waiting period” before you can use it to claim for more significant dental work – so this is something to take into consideration if you need to have a procedure done urgently.
Also, remember that most dental insurance plans, especially the more affordable ones, don’t cover any procedures that are considered cosmetic.
Finally, although not something you can rely on, it can be possible to win a dental makeover by entering a competition.
Sometimes, dental clinics or other organizations offer dental makeovers as the first prize in competitions that are held for marketing and advertising purposes, and if you get lucky, you may win a dental treatment worth something in the range of $30,000.
Of course, the downside of this strategy is that you’re unlikely to win – but that shouldn’t stop you from trying.
Not always easy – but possible with perseverance
Finding somewhere that will give you a free dental makeover might not be easy, but there are lots of options you can try, and with perseverance, it can be possible to find an organization that will help you.
However, even if you are unable to obtain a full dental makeover for free, you may still be able to have essential dental work carried out for free so you don’t need to live with the constant pain of something like a cavity.
And failing this, there are also several options for receiving dental care at reduced rates, so even if it’s not completely free, at least it’s a whole lot more affordable.