You desperately need dental care, but your job does not provide benefits. Don’t worry -- you’re not alone. According to the Freelancers Union, independent workers compose 30% of the nation’s workforce. Whether or not you’re in that one-third, you don’t have to go without regular dental checkups. Putting off checkups because they're expensive can cost you more in the long run, as preventative care helps you avoid more serious problems.
Try these five tactics to make sure that you receive the dental care you need:
Let Dental Students Learn On You.
Search this online resource from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) to find low-cost dental care near you. NIDCR recommends that you contact your state dental society to find a dental school or dental hygiene school where students provide care at a reduced cost in order to gain experience. Sometimes, the cost is only that of materials and equipment. But, don't fret! These students are closely supervised by licensed dentists.
Speaking Of School...Apply For Financial Assistance.
Contact your state or local health department to find out about financial assistance programs. You can also find a Federally Qualified Health Center that provides primary care – and oftentimes dental care – based on what you can afford. David Bowman, a spokesman for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) says that HRSA provides funding to over 7,500 clinics and mobile medical vans. These centers provide services on a sliding fee scale, meaning that you pay what you can afford.
Participate In A Dental Research Study.
In certain instances, you can also sign up to participate in a research study to receive free or low-cost treatment. For more information, check out the NIDCR website and this list of studies that are recruiting.
Check Out Insurance Through The Freelancers Union.
If you meet certain eligibility requirements, the Freelancers Union allows you to sign up for health, dental, disability and/or life insurance. Dental coverage runs about $55 per month for members.
Find A Dentist Who Accepts CareCredit.
And, at the very least, some dentists offer payment plans like CareCredit, a financing plan that provides various no-interest and extended low fixed interest options.
So, if it has been more than six months since your last cleaning, don’t put it off simply because you don’t have insurance. There are plenty of low-cost resources available – from dental schools to federally funded clinics – to can keep you healthy and smiling.