Affordable dental care ideas roundup

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Here’s a roundup of the many, many suggestions from you guys for the reader looking for ways to afford major dental work without insurance. Thanks! You guys rock, and this will be helpful to so many people.

Dental Schools

  • ElizabethF says: “I have used the College of Dupage Dental School.  The experience was long but cheap (I have more time than money).  They did all my X-Rays, Cleaning, and Flouride treatment.  Then I was able to take the information they gave me to my regular dentist.  He waved all of the examination fees (because COD did the work), he gave me a break on the work he did because I was paying cash, and offered me a payment plan.  The key here was being up front.  I told him I couldn’t afford what I needed and he made it work.”
  • And from Jen: “Midwest university in downers grove might be able to help.  I have never been there but I heard they do dental services at low cost.”
  • Ellen shares: “i found this on line. University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry.  801 S. Paulina St.  Chicago, IL 60612 . 312.996.7555. General and specialized dental care for children and adults. Accepts Kid Care and Public Aid; set fees for those not on Public Aid.”
  • Barb verifies: “Yes, UIC has a dental school with significantly reduced costs.  A co-worker utilized the school and had no real complaints and felt it was quite reasonable.  The work is obviously done by students supervised by professors/dentists but all work is checked.  Hope that helps.”
  • And coupon cutie suggests: “Call the UIC Dental School in Chicago. They will instruct you on how it works there. You have to be very patient because it is set up like a radio contest, you have to call on Wednesdays between such and such hours and hope to be one the the first ( I don’t recall the number they take). Once you are in the system, you are good to go and will be scheduled an appointment for a future date. The dental school is highly rated and they do excellent work. I believe it is a sliding scale. For Dental Hygiene work ( maintenance and prevention is key) call Prairie State College or Kennedy King College and ask to speak to the director of their dental Hygiene programs. They are always looking for patients. HTH”
  • From Ellen: “i went to prarie state because my daughter’s best friend was in the dental hygenist program and she needed a patient. i ended up being her final exam patient as well. i got a full cleaning done for free.”
  • Kay says: “College of DuPage and Harper both have dental schools. I think the payments are based on income. I think they do everything except orthodontia. You can google either place.”
  • And Losing Lindy shares: “I don’t know if there are any dental schools in your area, but I had gone to one years ago. I will say it takes a lot of time, but they will work with you.”
  • An anonymous dentist weighs in: “To also interject on the dental school/hygeine school coment people have made.  Yes you can get dental care for a far more reasonable price at these schools.  It will take far more of your time and yes is very dependant on which student you get as to how good the work will be even under supervision.  It may take months to be accepted to the program and when I says slow treatment, think 1-3 3 hour sessions for a molar root canal, 3 hours for a cleaning, 3 hours for sometimes 1 filling and so on.  There are 2 schools within an 2 hour driving distance of Chicago, UIC and Marquette, another school has opened in Downers Grove, not students have gotten to clinic stage yet, give it a year.”

Develop a plan with your dentist

  • Nikki says: “Aunt Martha Dental did my exam for $35 developed a plan for me which involved an extraction at a later date which only cost $50. Will be going back when school starts back and I start getting a check again for a few fill-ins.”
  • And Comicbob agrees: “Talk to your dentist.  When I was out of work and without insurance, they were able to work out a price and payment plan for me. Good luck.  After 7 root canals I know all the pains teeth can give you.”
  • Leah comments with a special: “Hi my name is leah, ive posted this on here about a month back but I work for DentalWorks at Woodfield Mall we have ONE MONTH (JULY) left for our new patient special of exam and xrays(as many as you need) for only $1.00, this is an amazing deal. Our telephone number is 847-619-0808. We are located in the woodfield mall. Its only $1.00 and we can have the Dr take at look at everything and come up woth a treatment plan for you. Once we get his treatment plan we have many affordable  options available. Please call us and come in. We are here to help!” This is July 2012, if you’re reading this post after that time.
  • And from Kay: “Also I have a friend who is a dentist and he tells me he gives big discounts for cash payments – he does not like having to deal with insurance companies, so you might want to call around to see what you might find.”
  • Michelle says: “if you have a relationship with your dentist, they may do some pro bono or for cheap. My husband just had a crown placed for free by our dentist because we could only afford 2 of the 4 she recommended.”
  • An anonymous dentist shares: “Beyond that the best thing to do is to take it as slow as you can, to not create a bill at a dental office that will be impossible to pay back.   I have an office … and work with people on payment.   I try never to extend payment past 90 days but offer a variety of ways to help with payment from care credit to credit cards… It is my belief that as with all bills owed it is best to always keep a line of communication open with an office if payment is owed.  We find that the fastest way to no longer receive care or wind up in a collection agency is to avoid bills and not contact our office if full payment cannot be made.”

Churches and other organizations

  • Sara suggests: “Try calling a local church and explain your situation.  They can put you in touch with various services that could assist or they might know of a parishioner who would be willing to work with you (who’s a dentist). Even if you don’t attend church, most will work with you if you need help.”
  • And from Jackie: “Do a google search for mission of mercy.  Its an organizaton?  That you go and they do dental (maybe medical) work very cheap or free.  I know someone that went there, had to wait a long time but saved thousands”

State and local services

  • Priscilla comments: “Calling the local health deparment is a good idea. I work in healthcare and we refer patients to various dental schools and other organizations that offer free or low cost dental services. There are a lot of people utilizing these services right now so you may be put on a waiting list, so do not wait to look for something and check into all of your options quickly. Call catholic charities (no you don’t have to be catholic in order for them to help you)and they may have some information for you. Generally certain services are based on your geographic area, like you have to live in a certain county (they like to servce the areas they are in) adults unless it is an emergency (has to be emergent). You may have to travel far so be prepared. Allkids as of July 1st no longer covers adults for any dental services unless it is a true emergency.”
  • Also from Priscilla: “Ooh, I forgot about this 2-1-1! Call 211 from any phone and you will get a resource and referral line that has been set up by the state of illinois with the United Way to refer people to various resources.”
  • From Melissa A: “You can apply online for allkids, medicaid, and public assistance if you need too.  It is set up to be there as a temporary help for people who need it.  That is what it was meant to be used for originally.  When hard times hit, you do what you have to do! =)” But see Priscilla’s comment above — the state site also says that as of July 1, 2012, there are major cuts in dental help.
  • Jessica suggests: “Contact DuPage county health dept, they have a free or cheap dental clinic in Wheaton. My down on his luck friend went there multiple times. In Kane county I am not sure. I know there is a free clinic in st Charles. Tri city health. Believe there may be resources in Aurora and Elgin as well. I do IT work for some of the nonprofits in that area. Hope this info helps!”


  • Laurie comments: “An artist couple I know trade their artwork for dental work.”

Periodic volunteer options

  • Barbara says: “These are few and far between but look at various newspapers daily(library) and do searches online. There are dental offices out there doing volunteer or charity work. They usually will say that the first 50 people in line will get an assessment and badic cleaning free that day, anyone needing significant work will be seen in a later date for either free or a nominal fee. These are usually crowded but it is worth it if you are at the front of the line and need thousands in dental work.”

Invest in a discount dental plan

  • lifelongwalk says: “If you don’t qualify for low-income assistance-type services and/or can afford to pay something, you could purchase your own dental plan.  I haven’t used one (yet), but my friend and boyfriend’s dad have and they say they are good and reasonably priced: or” Read more about here.
  • Betsy on “I am using it right now, as when I was forced to change jobs the new dental plan payroll deductions were way over the top.  I am on the Aetna one, when you go to the website you can see what plans are available at your dentist if any.  For just xrays and cleanings, the discounted price came out a less than what my work dental insurance would be, and if you need crowns, etc., root canals, the amount out of pocket is similar and there is not a yearly limit.  My old dental insurance was a very cheap premium so it was no comparison but now this works out better.  My husband has used it several times.  Hope this helps if anyone is considering it.”


  • A suggestion from Berenice: “ They are in Rockford, there is a wait, but overall super friendly!  I used this clinic when I was in college and did not have insurance.”
  • Becky M. adds: “If she lives in Mchenry County she should google the Mchenry County cooperative dental clinic….yes they usually have a long wait but it might be worth it and it is sliding scale based on income…if she is really in pain she should go to her ER…although the docs there are not dentists they have pulled several of my clients teeth when needed and they felt much better after getting the infected tooth out. HTH.”

Preventative care

  • An anonymous dentist says: “The secret to dental care when on a limited income first and foremost is to have optimal home dental care as to not allow a condition to worsen any more rapidly then it has too.  As I know you know, dental products are almost always free at a drug store and I have seen your posts, you must have 10 lifetimes worth for your family.” I do share them :) — but yes. Check out this week’s CVS deals for very cheap toothpaste, for instance, and this week’s Walgreens deals for super cheap floss and floss picks.

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  1. Becky M. says

    If she lives in Mchenry County she should google the Mchenry County cooperative dental clinic….yes they usually have a long wait but it might be worth it and it is sliding scale based on income…if she is really in pain she should go to her ER…although the docs there are not dentists they have pulled several of my clients teeth when needed and they felt much better after getting the infected tooth out. HTH.

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