If you are on the search for free dental implants, then there are probably a few things that you already know about implant dentistry costs.
You probably know that a dentist can charge a lot for teeth implants, especially in the United States. And you also probably know that implants are considered to be the best option when it comes to replacing missing teeth. Go figure that they're the most expensive option, huh?
Oh, and you are probably well aware that finding a dentist who offers free, or at least affordable dental implants isn't the easiest task in the world.
We know this and we're here to help! In this article, you'll find out how to get free and low-cost dental implants including:
- Free dental implants for veterans
- Free dental implants for disabled people
- Free dental implants for low-income people
So if you're ready to find out how you can find free dental implants, or at least pay less, keep reading to learn about your options.
Additionally, if you need help figuring out how to pay for other dental work, check out our dental finance article.
Table of contents
- 1 How to find free dental implants
- 2 Other ways to save
- 3 Watch out for scams
- 4 Conclusion
- 5 FAQs
How to find free dental implants
Although it may seem like it sometimes, the world isn't completely run over with cold-hearted billionaires, always looking for the best way to make a quick buck. There are plenty of people filled with the spirit of altruism who believe that other people also deserve to enjoy a high quality of life. These ‘do-gooders' found, work for, or volunteer for nonprofits and charities that provide necessary medical care and dentistry like implants for those who can't pay for them but need them.
But how do you find these people who want to help? And where do you go to look for the programs that they offer?
To answer those questions, and any more you may have, keep reading to find out about exactly how to find dental implants for free.
Free dental implant programs
Cosmetic Dentistry Grants
Cosmetic Dentistry Grants (CDG) is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2010. Their mission is based on the belief that everyone should have a healthy and confident smile. The way they get their funding is through a cost that participating dentists pay for patients that are referred to them. With this fee, CDG can issue grants, promote advocacy and run media and outreach campaigns. CDG offers funding for a wide range of procedures, and that includes dental implants. However, be aware that basic dentistry like cleaning, extractions, root canals and fillings are not eligible. If you do have these services performed along with your implant, you will have to pay for it yourself. You can read more about grants for dentistry in or full article here.
Dental Lifeline Network
The Dental Lifeline Network is a nonprofit founded in 1974 that provides access to comprehensive dental care nationally. Their patients include:
- People with permanent disabilities
- People who are aged 65 and older
- People who are medically fragile
Their mission is to improve the oral wellbeing of people with disabilities, the elderly, and the medically fragile. Their flagship program is called Donated Dental Services (DDS). DDS involves a national network that includes 15,000 volunteer dentists and 3,700 volunteer laboratories. This program provides free comprehensive treatment including dental implants. Each state has a DDS program, and they make it easy to find a participating dentist in your state on this page.
Each state has different guidelines for who can qualify for these dentistry services, but in general, the qualifications include those mentioned above, combined with the lack of adequate income to pay for the dental care you need. Once you search for your state, you may find that the program is not currently accepting applicants for some counties, due to a long waiting list.
However, if you have documentation from your doctor that says that you can't receive essential medical treatment because of your current dental condition, then you can still apply for the program, even if your county is no longer accepting applications. Medical supplies for DDS such as implants are donated by participating laboratories, including 3M, Nobel Biocare, Straumann and Zimmer Biomet.
Local Community Health Centers
Health centers are based in communities and directed by patients, delivering comprehensive and high-quality health care services. They often try to provide integrative care, with pharmacies, and mental and oral health for those who can't access it based on income, lack of citizenship, homelessness, being an underinsured vet, mental illness, etc.
Fundamentals according to the Health Resources & Services Administration:
- Deliver high quality and culturally competent primary care
- Provide services despite the ability of the patients to pay
- Patient majority governing boards
- Patient-centered care, with a focus on underserved populations
- Meet certain administrative clinical and financial requirements
Find your local health center here.
If there aren't any free dental implant programs near you, consider dental schools. Dental schools that offer free dental implants are another great option for not just implants but all sorts of dental work. Dental schools and dentist training programs often offer free or low-cost services so that their students can gain experience performing procedures on real patients before becoming a licensed dentist. All states have dental schools that offer a wide range of treatment including the implant procedure
Depending on the programs in your state, you may or may not be able to receive free dental implants, but it's likely that you can find them for a significantly reduced cost. Keep in mind, however, that in some cases, the service is free, but you might still have to pay for the actual implants, so make sure to ask about that before you book an appointment. That way you won't end up with an unexpected cost at the end.
If the idea of students performing your dental procedure freaks you out, that's understandable, but it really shouldn't. These are students who are getting ready to graduate and go on to practice dentistry in the real world, so they are already very qualified. Additionally, they are always supervised by licensed dentists throughout the whole procedure, and what's more, the dentists who are supervising wouldn't be able to be supervisors and professors if they themselves didn't have extensive experience. So it's just like going to the actual dentist, but it can be a whole lot cheaper.
If you live in a big city, you're more likely to be able to find a program offering free or reduced-cost implants. That's because there will be lots of schools with even more students who need real experience in order to graduate. If you live in a small town, a program like this may be more difficult to find, but it also might be worth planning a trip to the big city if your implants are going to be free.
Have a look at this list of schools provided by the American Student Dental Association. These schools may provide pro-bono dentistry as part of their community outreach services.
Have a look at the following video to see how students at the University of Chicago in the dentistry program provide free care for the homeless.
You don't have to be homeless to get your dental work from students; many schools offer reduced-cost care to anyone, no matter your income level.
The VA does provide dental benefits including implants to some veterans, so if you are a vet, you should definitely go to their website to find out if you qualify. However, due to their strict eligibility rules, many veterans are not eligible for dental coverage from the VA. The eligibility criteria include:
- Having a service-connected dental disability or condition for which you receive monthly compensation
- Being a former POW
- Having one or more service-connect disabilities rated 100% disabling
- Are unemployable and receive disability compensation at the 100% disabling rate, because of service-related conditions
- Having served on active duty for 90 days or more during the Persian Gulf War
There are a few more criteria that might make you eligible. You can have a look at the rest at the VA's website.
We mentioned DDS above in programs for free implants. Donated dental services (DDS) is a part of the Dental Lifeline Network, and one of their goals is to help veterans get the dental work that they need. Although it seems like veterans (and everyone else for that matter) should get the dental services they need for a cost they can afford, even dental implants, many veterans are not eligible for the dental services provided by the VA. If this is your situation, visit the DDS website and find out if you are eligible for free implants in your state.
Veterans should also look into the other free implant programs mentioned above.
Trials are one of the two ways that medical research involving people is conducted. The other way is observational studies, but that's for another day.
These trials are research studies conducted in order to find new treatment, see if new drugs work and try out new medical devices, and mostly, to make sure that treatment is safe and effective. All trials in the US must be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It may sound scary to participate in a clinical trial for implants, but keep in mind that the main concern during the trial is the patients' safety, because if something goes wrong, the company conducting the trial could get into some serious trouble.
If you need free dental implants, you may want to consider participating in a clinical trial. If this interests you, a good place to start looking is with the Nation Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). They often have low-cost or free dental treatment, including the procedure for implants for the duration of a study that they are conducting. To find out if there are any trials looking for volunteers for implants, head to their website and have a look now.
If you are over 55 and need free dental implants, one option you can look into is the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). This is a home and community-based program that helps older adults who are eligible for nursing home care continue living in their communities. As part of this effort, PACE may also help pay for services, like implants, that Medicaid and Medicare don't cover in your state or under your plan. You can find out if there is a PACE program in your state by visiting their website.
Seniors can see about participating in any of the programs mentioned at the beginning of this article as well.
Other ways to save
Have you checked all of the options mentioned above?
- Looking for free dental implant programs
- Visiting your Community Health Center
- Finding a local dentistry school
- Participating in a clinical trial
- Checking your veteran eligibility
- Checking your eligibility for PACE
If you have, and you simply can't find resources for free and low-cost dental implants near you, don't worry, you aren't out of options yet. Let's go over some other ways that you can at least save money on dental implants, if not get them for free.
This may sound too obvious, but if you have dental insurance, you should call your company to make sure that implants are not covered by your plan. If you don't want to call, look through your policy. If implants are specified as a treatment that is covered, you'll want to look at details like whether the pain is covered in your plan.
If so, you may be able to argue that implants would help alleviate pain. Talk to your dentist also, about whether you have a case for having this service covered by insurance. They may be able to help you figure out the best way to make your case to your insurance provider.
If your income level is under the Federal Poverty Level, then you are eligible for Medicaid. However, not all states provide dental coverage. So you'll have to check what the Medicaid benefits cover in your state. However, if you think you might be eligible, this is a program that you should definitely be enrolled in. To find out more, you can read our full guide to Medicaid.
We're not talking about totally free treatment, but another way to cut the cost of this sort of procedure includes dental tourism. That means traveling abroad (if you live in southern Cali it might just be a step over the border) to a place where you can get dental implants for a much lower cost than in the US. And if it sounds sketchy to you to do this, rest assured that as long as you research the clinic you want to go to beforehand, and make sure you choose one that has plenty of positive patient reviews, your procedure will be quality and safe. If this interests you, check out our guide to getting dental implants abroad.
Another option is dental discount plans, also referred to as dental savings plans. These are not insurance plans, but they can help you pay a lower cost for dental work. With a dental plan, you pay the cost of the yearly fee, sort of like a membership fee, and in return, you can get discounted dental care. For more information on lowering your teeth implant cost with dental plans, check out our dental discount article.
If you can't find free dental implants anywhere, then you may also want to consider taking out a dental loan. If you do decide to go this route, make sure that you understand the terms of the loan, and will be able to pay the cost back in time. Because if you aren't able to pay it back within the time they specify, then your interest rates are likely to skyrocket. To find out more about dental loans, you can check out our full guide here.
Watch out for scams
If you've spent any amount of time searching the internet for free dental implants, then you've likely come across a few programs that turn out to be scams. They are most likely in the form of eye-catching advertisements, meant to get you to click on them, only to be sucked into something that definitely isn't free.
The main sort of scam you'll come across involves hidden fees. This is when the dentist advertises the implants as free, but what it really means is that the service provided by the dentist is free, but the actual implants themselves are not. Make sure you ask your potential dentist about each cost involved upfront to avoid unpleasant surprises. The flip side of this is that the dentist will tell you the implants themselves are free, but the service for putting them in isn't.
Another thing to look out for is, again, the flashy advertisements that say ‘free' and then provide a number you can call. This is usually a strategy to get you to call the number or go to a consultation, where they will then try to get you to commit to procedures you don't need.
Whether you are missing one tooth, or all of your teeth, getting those teeth replaced is really important for not only your dental health but your overall wellbeing as well. There's also the esthetic factor, which may end up contributing to your mental health. So, lots of reasons to get your missing teeth replaced.
And most dentists agree that the best way to replace teeth is with implants, because they actually replace the roots of your missing teeth, making it the closest thing to having your natural teeth (which of course, if possible, is always the best option). With a dental implant where your natural root once was, the loss of bone that can occur is greatly decreased, and the dental implant provides a stronger base for your crown.
The problem with this is that implants are exorbitantly priced, especially in the United States. For those reasons, we encourage you do take a close look at all of the options presented in this article for finding free implants, including free dental implant programs, dental schools, and implant medical trials. That's because, not only will it benefit you now, it will improve the quality of your life in the long run as well.
There are a lot of ways you can save, so have a look at the table below for a summary of some of the best ways.
Can I get help paying for dental implants?
It can be difficult to find the solution that best fits your financial needs, but with enough searching and asking around, you may very well be able to get help paying the cost for your dental implants. In order to do so you should:
- See if there's a dental insurance plan that you can afford that covers them
- Find out if you're eligible for Medicaid, and if dental work is covered in your state
- Look for charities and nonprofits that have free dental implant programs
- If you are a vet, check to see if you are eligible for dental services through the VA
- Check dental schools in your area to see if they offer free treatment
- Participate in a clinical trial
- Go abroad for dentistry
- Find out if a dental discount plan can help
How do I get dental work done for free?
Free dental work, including implants, is available, although you will most likely have to do some thorough searching. Begin by visiting your local Community Health Center, because they will most likely be able to point you in the right direction, if they themselves don't offer any free clinics.
There are also some charitable foundations that offer free dental implant programs, most notably the Dental Lifeline Network.
Other options include participating in clinical trials and getting work done at a dental school.
Will Medicaid pay for dental implants?
Whether or not Medicaid pays for your dental implants will depend on the state you live in. That's because each state gets to decide which benefits will be covered by Medicaid. You'll have to go to your state's website, or call your state's Medicaid agency to find out if they will cover dental work including implants.
Can veterans get free dental implants?
The VA is required to provide benefits for veterans, but only in some cases does that extend to dental work. In order to be eligible for dental benefits through the VA you have to meet certain requirements, including but not limited to:
- Receiving 100% disability due to having service-related injuries
- Being a former Prisoner of War
To see exactly what benefits you are entitled to, you can go to the VA website. If you aren't eligible for VA dental, they may suggest that you sign up for an insurance plan. If the plan offered is too expensive, you'll want to consider the other options mentioned above.