- Dental care is expensive, but you can get free or cheap services at dental schools.
- You may be able to save 50 percent or more on dental implants, fillings, cleanings, and more.
- Certain groups of people like seniors and veterans may qualify for special programs.
You aren’t alone if you’ve ever put off dental work because of the expense. Dental care can run hundreds and even thousands of dollars. Fortunately, free or cheap dental care is available at certain dental schools. These programs aren’t always easy to find, but a quick online search can help you discover local options.
Whether you need preventative, restorative, or surgical care, going to a dental school can save you significantly. Some dental schools accept patients of all backgrounds, while others have specific requirements. Search online to find the right fit for your situation. A little bit of research can save you money.
Who Qualifies for Free or Cheap Services at Dental Schools?
Regardless of your background, you may be able to get low-cost care at a dental school. However, some schools specialize in serving specific groups of people. For example, NewMouth says the following groups may qualify for free or cheap services:
- The elderly;
- Low-income individuals;
- Individuals with disabilities, and;
- Medically and mentally compromised individuals.
Even if you don’t fall into one of the above groups, check online to see your options. You won’t know what’s available until you look.
Dental Schools Offering Free or Low-Cost Dental Services
Since dental students need hands-on experience to graduate, many dental schools have clinics so students can develop real-world skills. Under the supervision of licensed dentists, students do cleanings, fillings, and even more complicated procedures like dental implant surgeries.
Keep in mind that appointments at dental school clinics often take longer. Verywell Health says that’s because “every step is monitored and approved” by the supervisor. So, an appointment that typically takes two hours may end up closer to five hours. But you get quality dental care at a discount in exchange for your time.
There are dental school clinics accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation across the country, but here’s a selection to give you a better idea of what they offer.
1. A.T. Still University Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health
The A.T. Still University Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health has two on-campus clinics. Between both of them, the school can offer general dentistry services as well as more complex care.
Here’s a bit more info about services at the school’s clinics:
- Serves about 11,000 patients during 60,000 visits each year.
- No income qualifications, so everyone is welcome.
- Services include braces, dental implants, and laser therapy.
- Helps with dental emergencies at its dental emergency clinic.
2. Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine – Arizona
Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine is another option in Arizona. So, snowbirds who make their way to the Grand Canyon State every winter have multiple choices.
Here’s some info about the range of the clinic’s services:
- Provides dental cleanings, X-rays, fillings, crowns, bridges, and oral surgery.
- Hosts a day of free dental care for veterans, including cleanings and fillings.
- A screening appointment determines whether they’ll accept you as a patient.
- Patient dental needs must be compatible with student educational needs.
3. Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of the University of Southern California
The Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC has three branches of clinics: a student clinic, specialty clinics, and a faculty dental practice. While the cost of the faculty dental practice is comparable with professional dental practices, the other options are affordable alternatives.
Here are a few highlights:
- The student clinic is one third the price of the faculty dental practice.
- Services include routine care, dentures, and cosmetic treatments.
- Offers a specialty clinic for elderly and disabled patients.
- Provides care for dental emergencies at its urgent care center.
4. University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry
Located in San Francisco, the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry is another West Coast option to consider. It’s part of the University of the Pacific.
Here are some details to give you an idea of how it stacks up with other dental school clinics:
- Up to 40 percent less expensive than typical private dental offices.
- Services include cleanings, fillings, veneers, and implants.
- Separate adult/teen and children’s dental clinics.
- Prospective patients must schedule a screening exam.
5. Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine
The Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In addition to a student clinic, it also offers a walk-in urgent care clinic for people who aren’t current patients and a faculty practice.
Here are some things to know about its student clinic:
- General dentistry and specialty care at reduced prices.
- Provides care to both adults and children.
- Appointments take longer than they would at private practices.
- Urgent care clinic can help with dental pain and swelling.
6. Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine – Illinois
Much like its counterpart in Arizona, Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine in Illinois also has a student clinic. So, those in the Midwest might want to give it a look.
Here’s some info about the clinic:
- Services include fillings, crowns, dentures, bridges, and implants.
- Children under the age of 14 can get care at the pediatric clinic.
- Everyone older than 14 can receive care at the general clinic.
- Prospective patients should schedule a screening appointment.
Dental Treatment Cost Comparison
Prices vary from one dental school clinic to the next, but NewMouth says you can save 50 percent or more. To give you a few examples, we’ve compiled price estimates from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry, University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, and Dentaly:
- Filling: $98 at dental schools vs. $197 at private practices.
- Root Canal: $125 at dental schools vs. $910 at private practices.
- Crown: $525 at dental schools vs. $1,142 at private practices.
- Implant: $900 at dental schools vs. $4,000 at private practices.
How to Find Dental Care Deals
It’s possible to get free or cheap dental care — you just need to know where to look. The big tip to keep in mind: going to a dental school clinic instead of a private dental office can save you anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
In addition to dental schools, you may be able to get free or cheap dental care like implants through charities and government programs. Start an online search to find nearby options. You may be able to score free or low-cost dental services.