Free dental care is available from a variety of sources including a local dental clinic, nonprofits, events, dental schools, and clinical trials. And in some states, if you live under the Federal Poverty Level, you may even qualify for free dental care with Medicaid.
In this article, you'll find out about some of the best resources for free dental care for adults and children and we'll also answer the following questions:
- What type of care can you get for free?
- Where can you get a tooth pulled for free?
- Where can immigrants find free care?
We hope this information helps you find the help you need so you can take care of your oral health today, tomorrow, and for the rest of your life.
If you need urgent dental advice, you can chat to a dentist online for free using Denteractive's teledentistry service. Paid plans are also available if you wish to do a video call or receive a prescription for pain relief or antibiotics.
Table of contents
What dental work can you get for free?
If you need free dental help, you're not alone. Around one-third of adults in the US have no form of dental benefits, and even those who do are often massively underinsured. This has led to a whopping 41% of adults with dental and medical debt. And young adults, like college students, are also often left with unpaid dental bills.
“Many people living in the United States have poor oral health due to lack of access to care.”U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Oral Health Coordinating Committee
Fortunately, it's possible to find a wide range of free dental services. It's even possible to find restorative services, like implants or dentures for free, or at least low-cost.
Unfortunately, however, sometimes it can take a lot of searching and investigating to find a dentist for free, and other times it just comes down to being in the right place at the right time.
The good news is that routine services, like cleanings and checkups, are often offered for free because they cost less for dentists and hygienists to provide. For the purpose of this article, we'll be focusing on free routine care, extractions, and emergency services, but you can read our free implants and free and low-cost dentures guides for more information on those.
Free tooth extraction near me
If you need a free emergency tooth extraction there are a few options to pursue:
- Low-cost clinic: If you know of a low-cost clinic in your neighborhood, call and ask if they can help you find a free tooth extraction with no insurance.
- Community health centers: Community health centers are government-funded centers that provide free and reduced-cost medical and dental care. Find your local center here: findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov
- Healthcare navigator: A healthcare assister or navigator may be able to help you find free tooth extraction near you, or at least refer you to someone who can help you. Search for an assister near you here: localhelp.healthcare.gov/#/ (Don't call a broker or an agent, because they only work with paying clients).
Finding free wisdom teeth extraction will be a bit more complicated, but this is where clinical trials might be one of the most helpful options. Here are some resources to check out to get your wisdom tooth pulled for free:
- Lotus Clinical Research LLC: They offer clinical trials for wisdom tooth extraction. You can make an inquiry by filling out this form and selecting ‘wisdom tooth removal.'
- CenExel JBR: This is another research center that offers periodic wisdom teeth removal studies. Get in touch with them with this form.
Where to get free dental care
Let's have a look at where you can find free dental treatment. But before that, in the table below, you'll see other options that, while they aren't free, can very helpful in paying for dental care.
The United Way is often a sort of one-stop-shop for all your social services, and that includes finding free dental care. Whenever you are looking for local resources, you can call United Way Worldwide by dialing 2-1-1. This line is open 24 hours per day, seven days per week and is free and confidential.
Your local health center is one of the first places you should look for free dental care. These are community-based and patient-directed centers that offer comprehensive health care services, regardless of patients' ability to pay. Health centers also provide culturally competent, high quality care with interpreters available as needed. Find your nearest health center by searching on their page here.
People who qualify for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act may receive free dental care if they live in a state where Medicaid has been expanded to cover dental.
Medicaid eligibility depends on:
- Income level
- Family size
- Pregnancy status
- Recent medical emergencies
- …and a variety of other factors
Find out more about income requirements here, and about Medicaid eligibility in general by reading our full article here.
Alternatively, if you aren't eligible for Medicaid, you may still want to consider enrolling in a dental insurance plan. By going to Dentalinsurance.com, you can browse the plans in your area, and if you find one that fits your budget and your needs, you can enroll directly.
Free online dental advice
Although an online dentist can't fix your teeth, they offer advice on your dental concern and prescribe antibiotics and pain medication, if needed. So, if you can't get to a dentist in person right now, an online consultation may be the next best thing.
With Denteractive's online dentist service, you can chat to a dentist for free for a limited time. After that, you have the option to purchase a paid plan or a video consultation.
Although you will probably still need to visit a dentist for the care you need, this option can buy you some time – especially if you're suffering from any kind of dental infection.
Dental schools are a safe place to find affordable and quality dental care for free or reduced prices. It doesn't matter whether you're uninsured or underinsured. Anyone can go to a dental school for routine dental services.
So why do dental schools provide affordable care? The answer is simple: dental students need real-world experience treating real patients before they can become licensed dentists.
If treatment from dental students gives you pause, it really shouldn't. These are students who are nearing the end of their studies and will soon be treating patients of their own. Additionally, each student is carefully supervised by an experienced licensed dentist with years of training experienced.
Another great thing about dental schools is that there are a lot of them, and there are always students in need of gaining real-world experience. If you live in an urban area, chances are that there's a dental school near you. And if you live in a rural area and don't have a dental school near you, making the trip into the city for free care is very much worth it. You can search for a dental school near you on the ADA's website here.
The short news clip below describes how patients can get free dental screenings from students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry.
There are free and sliding scale dental clinics everywhere. You just need to know where to find them, which can be difficult. One easy way to get started is by searching online databases for local free dental clinics, like those offered by the following websites:
Clinical trials are performed by accredited medical organizations like the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research before a drug or therapy can be made available to the general public. While no procedure is 100% guaranteed to be safe, clinical trials are very safe. That's because before any new treatment can be tested on humans, it has to go through years of laboratory research. Additionally, Congress passed laws that protect study participants and ensure their safety.
For routine dental care, cleanings and checkups, you probably won't need to enroll in a clinical trial because there are so many free and low-cost options available, but if you need more extensive and complex care, like implants or surgery, this may be an option for you to consider. You can have a look at the trials that are available here.
There are nonprofits all across the country where you can get dental work done for free, especially when it comes to routine care like cleanings and checkups. Let's have a look at some of the most popular programs and options.
Missions of Mercy
Missions of Mercy (MOM) has been operating since 2003. They bring together hundreds of dental professionals every year to create temporary dental hospitals in the field for the underserved, including adults and children. There are MOMs in various states, and you can check to see if there is one in your state on the American's Dentist Care Foundation website here.
You can see MOM in action in Oklahoma in the video below!
Give Kids a Smile
Give Kids a Smile (GKAS) is run by the American Dental Association. There are GKAS events annually throughout the year where thousands of dentists and volunteers provide free oral health education, screening, and treatment to children from underserved communities. To find care for your child through GKAS you can visit their website.
Donated Dental Services
Donated Dental Services (DDS) provides free dental care to people with disabilities, people who are considered to be medically fragile, and older adults. DDS operates in each state, and you can find your state's program by visiting their site here.
America's Dentists Care Foundation
This national nonprofit has its headquarters in Kansas but partners with other nonprofits all over the country. They also support charitable clinics that offer free services and sliding scale fees across the country, and they offer comprehensive care clinics for veterans. Check their event map here to see if there are any upcoming free care opportunities in your area.
Give Back a Smile
Give Back a Smile provides free dental work for survivors of domestic abuse. This program is run by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Charitable Foundation and helps both women and men who have suffered oral injuries from a partner, spouse, or family member. They also provide dental care and reconstruction for men and women who have dental injuries from sexual assault. You can check out their website here to find more about this program.
Dental care for immigrants
Immigrants who are in the process of getting their residency documents may face exceptional difficulty in finding a free dentist or clinic because they won't have access to government programs like Medicaid. If you or someone you know is in this situation, have a look at the resources provided by Informed Immigrant. You can browse various trusted nonprofits that will help connect you with the care you need.
Free emergency dentist
First of all, if you have a dental emergency, you should go to an emergency dental clinic. Your dental insurance provider will be billed for the procedures. If you don't have insurance and your income level is under the Federal Poverty Level, then you can apply for retroactive Medicaid to cover your emergency costs from the past three months.
The best way to apply for this is with the help of a free health insurance assister or navigator. They can help you complete the application error-free so you can get helping paying for your emergency. To find an assister near you, you can search on the Healthcare.gov site here. When you search, make sure to select ‘assister' or ‘navigator'. ‘Agents' and ‘brokers' aren't free and usually only help when applying for private insurance.
If you need urgent dental care, but it's not an emergency, you can search either one of the databases we mentioned above for free clinics in your area.
We have a separate guide with more information on emergency dentists.
Free dental treatment resources
There's a lot of information in this article, so we've compiled all of the resources we mentioned in the table below:
Who is eligible?
United Way Worldwide
Adults and children under the Federal Poverty Level
Anyone (may be income requirements)
Missions of Mercy
Give Kids a Smile
Donated Dental Services
People with disabilities, senior citizens, veterans, and people who are medically fragile
America's Dentists Care Foundation
Veterans, adults, and children
Give Back a Smile
Survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault
Child and adult immigrants
Healthcare navigators and assistants
Free dental help isn't always easy to find, but it is out there. There are a number of options you can investigate for free dentistry, including local health centers, nonprofits, dental schools, clinical trials, and in some states, Medicaid. A good place to begin your search is by dialing 2-1-1 for United Way Worldwide. This nonprofit will help put you in touch with any kind of help you need.
Fortunately, there are often free events and clinics throughout the year held by nonprofits, like Give Kids a Smile or Missions of Mercy, where you can get your annual checkup. The volunteers at these events will also help find you your ‘dental home'—a dentist near you who offers care you can afford so you can go for regular checkups and cleanings.
There are always obstacles in finding care, but where there's a will there's a way, and oral health should be a priority for everyone.
Remember, if you want to ask a dentist online about your dental problems, you can use Denteractive. This service lets you chat with a dentist for free for a limited time.
How can I get free dental work?
Whether you need to get a tooth pulled for free or you just need a free dental checkup, you can check nonprofit events, free dental clinics, dental schools, and clinical trials.
Do dental schools offer free dental care?
Dental schools do offer free dental care. Dental students who are getting ready to go out into the real world as certified dentists need to treat real patients as part of their degree requirements. If you go to a dental school for free or low-cost dental care, a student will perform your procedure, but they will be supervised the entire time by an experienced, certified dentist, guaranteeing you receive high-quality care.
Where can I get my tooth pulled for free?
If you need free tooth pulling, visit your local health center or call United Way Worldwide (2-1-1) and ask for information about free dental extractions in your area. They'll be able to put you in touch with free emergency dental care or let you know if there is a free dental clinic for adults and children near where you live.
Ada.org: Dental benefits coverage in the U.S. Consulted 24th October 2020.
Unitedway.org: 211. Consulted 24th October 2020.
Informedimmigrant.com: Find a service organization near you. Consulted 24th October 2020.
HRSA: Find a health center. Consulted 24th October 2020.
Freedentalcare: Find free dental clinics. Consulted 24th October 2020.
USA.gov: State health departments. Consulted 24th October 2020.
ADA.org: Find dental care for your child. Consulted 24th October 2020.
ADCF: Find an upcoming free dental clinic or volunteer opportunity. Consulted 24th October 2020.
Mission of Mercy: Home. Consulted 24th October 2020.
Healthcare.gov: Find local help. Consulted 24th October 2020.
Dental Lifeline Network: State programs. Consulted 24th October 2020.
ADA.org: Search for dental programs. Consulted 24th October 2020.
Clinicaltrials.gov: Find a study. Consulted 24th October 2020.
ASPE: Poverty guidelines. Consulted 24th October 2020.
Sunstar: Global Healthy Thinking Report. Consulted 11th September 2021.
Kff.org: Health Care Debt in the U.S.: The Broad Consequences of Medical and Dental Bills. Consulted 11th July 2021.