Skip to main content

What Can the Poor Do about Dental Care?

Dental care has been a major interest of Kelley's since he's had numerous dental procedures going back to 1996.

Wikipedia Commons photo

Wikipedia Commons photo

Here's the photo of the 12-year-old boy who died from dental complications.

Here's the photo of the 12-year-old boy who died from dental complications.

Should indigent people in urgent need of dental care be left in agony?

Since I’ve been writing articles about dental care, I’ve wondered what people do when they need dental care yet have no money, dental insurance or credit cards. If you’re in such an impoverished state, and you have a tooth that is throbbing with pain, what are your options?

My Own Story

Recently I had my own dental horror tale. A lower left bicuspid (already crowned) started aching, particularly when I pressed down on it, which invariably means a root canal is needed. I had to wait another day before calling the dentist because the following day was Thanksgiving. The day after the holiday, I called my dentist, told him my problem and he called in a prescription for some antibiotics and pain pills. Good for me, because as soon as I started taking the pills my tooth became a thrashing, serpent-like creature that wouldn’t die for 24 hours!

I later discovered that the necrosis in the root of my tooth had descended into the bone, causing a big abscess, which eventually took months to heal. The total cost to save the tooth was $2,000, including $500 to repair the crown (the dentist had to drill down through it to get to the root of the tooth). Let me tell you, The cost of the dental care hurt more than the toothache!

As bad as my situation was, at least I could afford the drugs ($35) and the visit to the dentist for which I had to pay $200 to ascertain the nature of my trouble. You’d think I could have told the dentist I needed a root canal and saved the $200, but that’s not how modern dentistry works!

Of course, many people – millions of them – couldn’t even pay for the drugs I bought, and I couldn’t help but sympathize and empathize with these poor folks. What would I do in a similar situation? Would I try to reduce the pain with OTC drugs and wait until Medicaid (known as Medi-Cal in California) did something about it? They certainly wouldn’t have performed a root canal, because nowadays there’s little or no money for dental restoration in Medicaid. Therefore, when I eventually saw a Medi-Cal dentist, I would have needed to get the tooth pulled ASAP.

In the following paragraphs I’ll explore the various issues confronting the poor as they attempt to obtain at least emergency dental care.

A Tragic Tale

For an example of what can happen to someone who needs emergency dental care and either can’t get it or gets it too late, an article appeared in the Baltimore Examiner on March 13, 2007:

Deamonte Driver was just 12 years old when bacteria from an abscessed molar spread to his brain. By the time his mother realized he needed attention, it was too late. Not even two brain surgeries and six weeks of hospitalization - at a cost of $250,000 - were able to save him.

Maryland’s Medicaid program failed Deamonte Driver. In many states Medicaid pays so little than even routine dental care is not provided, and a little bit of that may have saved this young man’s life.

The Internet is full of such horror stories.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer strikes an estimated 35,000 people per year, and perhaps 25 per cent of those people die from the disease. The use of alcohol and tobacco has been linked to the incidence of oral cancer, but 25 per cent of the people who get the disease don’t use alcohol or tobacco.

If treated early, this form of cancer can be easily cured by excision of the cancerous sore. Regular checkups would spot the disease but, of course, poor people often can’t afford dental checkups, regular or otherwise.

African-Americans seem particularly prone to this disease, having an incidence of one-third higher than Caucasians. Blacks are also twice as likely to die from the disease.

Can People Pull Their Own Teeth?

Scroll to Continue

I hope you don’t end up like the man who pulled 13 of his own teeth because he couldn’t afford a dentist or get the job done for free via government services. This Englishman had to use a pair of pliers to do this grisly work. Now the man needs dentures; unfortunately, he can’t make those himself!

I don’t recommend that anybody pull their own teeth. If the procedure is not done properly, infection could set in, causing the person even more misery. In the United States at least, it appears the poor have access to dental services that will extract teeth for free or for a small fee. (Actually dentists don’t “pull” teeth, they simply rock them from side to side until the tooth breaks loose from the bone and then slips right out.)

County Services for the Medically Indigent

County services can provide dental care, but the services they provide are different in each county of the United States. In Sacramento County, for instance, the County Medically Indigent Services Program (CMISP) has a dental clinic that pays for front teeth fillings, extractions and medications. Naturally, as the budget axe continues to fall, these services could disappear in the coming months or years.

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

Run by the Department of Health and Human Services, this federal agency may help you find a federally funded dental clinic, which could provide cleaning, checkups and even emergency care. This organization may ask people to pay what they can, but many services are free to indigent folks.

Dental Clinics

In many areas, dental clinics are available for low-income people, but in many cases they will charge you some money, say $10 for an X-ray, which is somewhat cheaper than you would normally pay. These clinics will also take insurance such as Medicaid (Medi-Cal) or Delta Dental. Also, if you are a Native American, some clinics provide care to people with at least some native blood in them.

Free Dental Health Clinics

From time to time, a free health clinic may visit your area. In April 2012, the Tennessee-based Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps came to Cal Expo in Sacramento, California. Another free dental clinic took place at Cal Expo in late August 2012. The free dental care offered included cleanings, fillings and extractions. These organizations seem to come around about once a year, so for those interested, be prepared to line up very early in the morning!

The California Dental Association (CDA) held another free dental clinic at Cal Expo in March 2015. An estimated 2,000 patients received free dental care, provided by 1,700 volunteers.

The CDA provided more free dental care to the indigent the weekend of 10/28/16 thru 10/30/16. CDA also provided free dental care in Stockton, California the weekend of 10/15/16 and 10/16/16.

In September 2017 another free dental clinic was held at Cal Expo in Sacramento CA.

Dental Colleges or Universities

Dental colleges or universities frequently offer some services to the poor, but only cleanings, checkups and X-rays may be offered. For restorative work such as root canals and crowns, you’ve have to check with the dental colleges in large universities. By all means, look into this possibility, as it could save you thousands of dollars.


If you live in California and qualify for Medi-Cal, you may also qualify for Denti-Cal. California’s budget for 2018 includes millions of dollars for dental care for the poor, essentially replacing money that was axed from the budget back in 2009, and then at least partially restored in 2014. Approximately seven million people are enrolled in Denti-Cal. This dental care may include preventive care, diagnostics, tooth restoration, frontal endodontic treatment, complete dentures and denture repair.

Please keep in mind that California may provide more free dental care than any other state in the US, because it’s a rich state and also accepts all federal money regarding healthcare for the poor. If you live in a poor state such as Alabama or Mississippi and/or a state which doesn’t take federal subsidies per Obamacare, then you will have more trouble getting cheap or free dental care!

Obamacare Dental Plans

Low income folks may be able to get dental insurance as part of their health insurance per the dictates of the Affordable Healthcare Act. As with regular Obamacare, subsidies or tax credits may be available to help you pay for dental care. But dental insurance doesn’t pay for dental care over a certain limit, generally around $1,500 per year, which provides little for expensive restoration work such as root canals, crowns or bridges.

Please note that for some reason that $1,500 annual limit hasn’t changed for decades, even though dental costs have increased every year. What’s up with that? Anyway, if you have a mouthful of problems, Obama dental care won’t pay for much. Sorry! Nevertheless, if you can get checkups, cleanings or filings at low cost, this coverage could save you hundreds of dollars!

Please click here for more information regarding Obamacare dental plans.


The solution to the problem of providing quality dental care to the poor is to make more funds available for such purposes, so vote for candidates who might make this happen. Perhaps practicing dentists could also be persuaded to provide some of their services for free to the poor. In some areas, dentists do this from time to time, so keep your eyes peeled for such a windfall and be the first in line.

My best advice for people who live on a low fixed income and have little chance of inheriting a large amount of money, you may consider getting all your teeth extracted and replacing them with dentures. You’ll save yourself much pain and trouble in the coming years and look much better as well.

As for people who would like to keep their teeth as long as they can, good dental hygiene is a recipe for success!

Anybody interested in finding more information regarding dental care for the poor can click on these links:

© 2010 Kelley Marks


Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on July 11, 2018:

When wisdom teeth are impacted, they can be vary expensive to pull. Anyway, if this Japanese man is poor, a government program such as Denti-Cal could pay for the procedure; otherwise, he'll have to pay the bill himself. There aren't many other options. Sorry!...

Takako Komori from Yokohama, Japan on July 11, 2018:

Hello again, I just came across a video on youtube posted by a Japanese guy who lives in America. He mentioned that it would cost $1500 to have a wisdom tooth pulled out and it is NOT covered by insurance! What would happen if one cannot afford it?

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 31, 2018:

Thanks for the comment, mtkomori. The dental plan in Japan seems better than what we have in the US. Anyway, when people have a mouth filled with bad teeth, they have only three options: get those teeth restored, or have them extracted and get either implants or false teeth. Of those options, getting dentures is by far the cheapest. An acquaintance of mine paid $2,700 for a set of dentures.

Takako Komori from Yokohama, Japan on May 31, 2018:

Very informative hub explaining why low income people can not afford adequate dental care. I have a question regarding your third to last paragraph. Why do you say " you may consider getting all your teeth extracted and replacing them with dentures."?? Wouldn`t this be a very costly procedure?

Where I live (Yokohama, Japan) we get a notice from our dentist every 6 months or so for a regular check up and cleaning even if we aren`t experiencing any dental problems. This will fix dental problems before they get worse and in the long run, save us from dental costs which can be quite expensive. It just isn`t right that not everyone (as you suggest) is covered for regular check ups!After all, preventing dental problems is far superior to fixing them.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on October 17, 2017:

Hey, Robert, I'm sorry you're having such trouble with your teeth! Anyway, in the old days SSI would pull your bad teeth for free and also give you dentures, but those days are gone, it seems. If you live in California, Denta-Cal might be able to help you and Obamacare's dental coverage may help as well. But if you live in another state, your options could be extremely limited; then you will probably have to wait until a free dental clinic comes to your area and hurry your butt over there. Good luck!

Robert again... on October 16, 2017:

Why are some of you beating up on someone that cares enough to TRY TO HELP others!! Not all teeth problems are due to bad oral care! My meds made my teeth weak and my pain going from my back to my feet caused me to crack off my teeth!

Thanks for this page and God bless you! I have an idea, why doesn't everyone that post something bad post something that MIGHT help someone in need. What a great world this would be! Agree?

Robert RE: Desperate dental needs! on October 16, 2017:

I am a male, 57 years old and on SSI. I was in the hospital 15 out of 16 months (a week or two a mo.) including 3 or 4 stays in the ICU for 7 or more days at a time! It was all for sepsis, which is another word for a very bad infection! They think that the sepsis may be caused by my teeth being in such bad shape. My top teeth are all pulled but my bottom teeth need to be pulled. I can't afford to get it done. I make less than $800.00 a month and have 2 small children and a wife! Can I be helped????? This all started because I was hit head on by a drunk driver and years after it happened is when my back and neck, per my Doctor "looks like a train wreck". I was hurting so bad one day that I gritted my teeth so hard that EVERY ONE of my top teeth cracked and about 4-5 on bottom cracked. I had my wife go to Wal*Mart and get a rasp/file and I filed down the sharp points because they were cutting up my tongue. Some times you have to do what ever it takes! We have money set aside for dentures but no way can we pay for extractions! Can ANYONE help me with any king of solution PLEASE PLEASE!!!! I will even pull my bottom teeth myself if I knew how, 2 teeth are disintegrated, I have no idea what is going on with those!! I had a Dentist say he/she could help but I need to come in for x~rays, exam, etc and it will "ONLY" cost me $200.00. He mise well said a million dollars! I sold everything I had on eBay to get this far and have nothing left.

Thanks and God bless,


Tom from The Netherlands on April 18, 2017:

In my opinion everybody should have access to proper dentistry. Of course the situation varies among different regions of the world. Unfortunately many people across the world do not have this kind of access. Therefore it is good that are initiatives like this that provide free dental care to people that cannot (financially) afford it!

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on March 24, 2017:

Dear E of F, I'm sorry you didn't find this article useful. But I did point out quite clearly that there's little or no money to help poor people get even basic dental care; only Obamacare provides even a minimal amount of help. (And that could soon disappear, of course.) Did you expect to find something miraculous in this story? Sorry I failed you. Later!

Eof_F on March 24, 2017:

Hate to say it but reading this article was a waste of ten minutes I will never get back. While I sympathies with the authors pain . . . because I am also in pain . . . he offers only a useless anecdote about let me see oh yes . . . himself and everything we already know . . . instead of true usable information.

Rob on October 12, 2015:

To bad bartering is aginst the law. You vould trade for dental work but then the goverment would not get there cut. People that are to lazy to work take all the funds from the working poor.Bottom line your fucked unless you sneak in here from another country or have 15 children out of wedlock and sell drugs.

dentalcostarica on October 08, 2015:

I use this package from this website to go for a dentures in Mexico , the trip was ok the service better, it's a little bit difficult to go without information

pamela on August 18, 2015:

I had cancer and lost two son's I don't care about life anymore I have not smile n 8 year's I not pretty I just hate my self one day I just might take my life I tired I want my g kid's to look and my grandma happy and she smiling now she can take pictures with us

Chintan on June 03, 2015:

I am sure a lot of NGO's help these needy people. My heart goes for them.

Recently I heard about an NGO in Dharavi, Mumbia, India who had done an activity to help these poor and needy people. The activity was in partnership with one of the dental chains in India called dentzz An excellent job done by them.

Steve on April 14, 2015:

Well....looks like there is always a fifth of vodka and a pair of plyers.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on October 18, 2014:

Hey, Natthebrat, I really wish you'd read my whole story before you make such ridiculous comments. I've never advised anybody to not use good oral hygiene. But when you've got a mouthful of bad teeth that nobody wants to pull without charging you money you ain't got, what else are you supposed to do but pull them any way you can? Later!

Natthebrat79 on October 17, 2014:

The only thing you keep advising poor people to do is to get their teeth pulled and get dentures so the will at least "look better". You say nothing of oral hygiene. Where did you receive your dental education? What's that you say you don't have a dental degree? Please stop giving poor people dental advise. The most important thing is not that your teeth or smile look good, it's that they function as teeth are part of the digestive system. The most important teeth are posterior teeth as they take most of the brunt forces associated with chewing. Dentures will not help with this in fact most people with dentures end up removing them to eat. Not that you would know or care.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on September 11, 2014:

Thanks for the comment, Vee1980. The best advice I can give anybody is for them to take care of their natural teeth, but for some people it's simply too expensive. At least, once the teeth are gone, you won't have to worry about the pain, which can be terrible. Later!

Vee1980 from San Francisco, California on September 11, 2014:

I think this was a good article until the end advice of people on a fixed income pulling all their teeth & getting dentures to avoid pain & trouble. That is absolutely horrible advice! One, they need to make sure they can afford dentures before they do this! Two, dentures need to be cleaned and adjusted, and fixed if they break, those are not free, they are an ongoing cost. What happens if they break or get lost, the person cannot eat? The bone deteriorates as the dentures rub against it. Some people get sores and have chronic gum pain from ill fitting dentures (especially if they cannot afford an adjustment) You can still get infections if they rub small holes in the gums. Three, it can be ver demoralizing to have to "put in your teeth" before talking or eating. Especially if you are younger and may have to live like this 40,50,60 years.

Salvaging the teeth you have with good hygiene at home and scheduling cleanings at free clinics at least once a year, perhaps using a partial denture if needed and can be afforded, is a MUCH better solution. If I would have taken your advice, I would have been toothless at 17 after I had major dental problems due to a health issue. But here I am at 34 with more teeth than not still and very happy to not have full dentures yet!

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on June 22, 2013:

Thank you for your heartfelt tales of woe, Penny. I hope you find the dental work you need. As for California, there may soon be some money for dental care in the budget for Medi-Cal. There is a god, and his name is Jerry Brown! Later!

Penny on June 21, 2013:

It's not just California. New Mexico is supposed to have Medicaid or something like it even for the childless but even if you're a domestic violence victim with knocked-out front teeth, FRONT-CENTER ones at that, they turn you down for Medicaid and there are like NO dental clinics in this state that will see you if you can't pay up-front and don't have Medicaid. There's no real dental school in this state, the nearest one being UC Denver which is a 6-hour-each-way drive and they still charge. I still have my MassHealth card but getting there is going to be a chore and then I'd have to sleep in something so I'd have to DRIVE because as per the reason I left (other than Math teaching jobs in New Mexico which will take someone with a New England state's teaching license but, what, with no front teeth how am I going to GET the job?!) everything there is way too expensive to try to live in long enough to get dentures. (I'm still "technically" Massachusetts resident).

You would THINK there'd be violence-victims' assistance but it either takes years (I've been at this for THREE YEARS now and I read an article about a woman who went front-toothless for FIFTEEN YEARS) or it too is only for women WITH children. If you're childless, college educated, and a man in your own biological family beats you up it's like you'd be better off letting him KILL you because with all the disfigurement and damage the beating causes you you will gradually lose your ability to support yourself, and thus stay ALIVE. I saw a post that mentions a US Constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment? No, I went to law school. This comes under the First Amendment right to LIFE. Life, period. This kind of damage can gradually KILL you.

justMe on April 28, 2013:

I am 31, and have NO income. I applied for Medicaid, but did not qualify_ because of my roommates income. .Meaning, the household income was too high (SRS knew of my roommate before I applied).

so... I have a roommate who is unable and unwilling to provide insurance for me. I can't smile because I'm too self conscious of my dental needs.

Even if I could find a dentist who charges only $1, I don't even have a dollar to spend.

I could qualify for medicaid if I moved out and lived on the street, but my children and I wouldn't have a roof over our heads.

My choice right now is to live in pain and never smile, or to take my kids to live on the street to save my front teeth and some of my molars.

Healthexplorer on February 24, 2013:

Really a very thinkable topic. I can say that there are many all over the world who are not getting proper treatment or who can not reach the hospital to meet its expenses. Several people are dying out from the cancer related issues due to the avoidance of the teeth care. So approaching to the government funds related organizations to get expenses is definitely a good option.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on February 22, 2013:

Thanks for the comment, Dresden. Other than wait for a free clinic to show up in your community, Medicaid or CMISP, if you live in California, should remove his bad teeth, as long as he's a low-income person; otherwise, he'll have to pay. The only other thing you can do is go to the media and see if some dentist will take pity on your husband and remove the teeth for free. Call up the TV stations and town newspapers and tell them your story - it's worth a try. Good luck. Later!

Dresden on February 21, 2013:

My husband is having some extreme pain with his teeth. He has no current ID or Driver's license so going to Mexico is out of the question, and we do not have insurance nor can we afford it. I have tried to get him into a dental school to have his teeth removed, but most of his teeth or so far gone that they have to be surgically removed. What hope is there to help get him fixed? This country doesn't care for the people who can't afford to get help when they are asking for it. How is that the ones that pay have to suffer so much and it feels like the government doesn't care about the little people at all. Is there any indigent services that can help with our situation? I have tried to get the "Care Credit" but my credit is too low so they will not accept my application. Is there some other way to get him some help so that he is out of pain? Please help anyway that you can.

GeraDessiel Simon on December 31, 2012:

I also suggest,

Those who do have Insurance could share,as when I was abused by prison-officers,who broke off my front teeth,and a CHRISTIAN couple had them repaired using their Insurance! It's time to be United Neighbors in America,truly! I prayed to even have this opportunity.

With many thanksgivings and all thankfulness,for all of us! HalleluYAH!

Hoshinoko on December 04, 2012:

I am receiving SSI. Since about three of four years ago, all dental care for those receiving SSI has been suspended indefinitely, due to this alleged budget crisis in California! (This while major corporations such as Hewlitt Packard Martin Marieta, and other US Defence contractzors are still receiving billions in 'corporate welfare)!

This is unconscieable that in America, people have to be denied the basics simply for being too poor! Sooo... whaa? The poor have to wait until experiencing excruciating pain from an emergerncy dental situation BEFORE being able to 'qualify' for dental assistance? Isn't there some clause in the US Constitution agains 'cruel and unusual punishmnet'? That the poor are being 'penalised' simply for being impoverished, and cannot receive intervention PREVENTATIVE dental care BEFORE having a tooth break or the like thus causing excruciating amount of unecessary pain and suffering?

I have bad dental health. I have an upper molar in my upper left side that feels that it may break at any moment! But I can't go to any dentist, simply because I do not have the amount of money it would cost to even get this tooth extracted! So I have to risk it breaking and causing extreme pain! This should not be happening to ANYONE in America! SHAME ON CALIFORNIA!

brenda on November 23, 2012:

my husband is a seasonal worker i lost my job 2 yrs ago we do not have health or dental insurance because we can not afford it the state says my husband makes too much money to help us with medical insurance i have kidney disease and i have an absessed tooth in which needs dental care there are no free clinics here in reading pa you have to pay 75.00 yes i said 75.00 to go to a clinic the dental clinics is 150.00 that is for 1 tooth extracted! yes i see people in line with there fs cards wearing gold jewelry,have there nails done dressed to kill here i am with 10 yr old pants and tshirts living paycheck to paycheck and no help for me! I wish the best for all those like me!

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on November 14, 2012:

I wanted to write in the previous comment that I will look into so-called low income dental clinics and see if they can actually help poor folks obtain affordable dental care. Later!

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on November 14, 2012:

Hey, pain4thepoor, I'm going to assume the story you related happened in the U.S. It sounds like you actually got lots of work done, though it may not have been the most skillful. Keep in mind that if you need a filling, you may opt for having the tooth extracted instead. It may not look good, but at least the tooth will no longer be a worry. Moreover, as soon as you can, get them all yanked and then maybe the government will pay for the dentures. That's about all I can advise. Sorry. In the meanantime Later!

pain4thepoor on November 14, 2012:

I am from the UK recently lost my job have an interview onn monday so fingers crossed, but i went to my dentist 3 moths ago for a bump on my gum, x ray showed it was an exstra tooth, but the dentist advised me to see how it goes but told me i needed 2 fillings on 2 teeth that wernt in pain but i did what i was told and had the fillings, 3 months later *a week after i lost my job :( * the whole of my left jaw was in agony i was told the exstra tooth was causing pressure and pain and given annti biotics and over the weekend i cat describe the pain, i went to the drs as the dentist gave me possibly the weekest antibiotics, i was takinng 2 tramadol 4 times a day but still in pain i had to have a voltral innjection then continue with voltrol supposiries, the antibiotics had given me server thrush below and oral, i was developing an ear infection no food no sleep. went back to my dentist the monday morning when they told me there was no one to remove said problem tooth, then told me he could if i paid him private rates, wasn't an option for me, went to another dentist, told even if he wanted to it was far to 'tricky' due to the possition, i offered to pay my other dentis, 'to tricky' for them to. Gave in my 90 year old nanny bless her couldn't bare to watch me in so much pain n paid for me to go private and have the tooth exstracted. tooth came out no problem, still in agony, turns out the problem if the bottom tooth they gave the unessissary filling to, filling wasn't done proply left my tooth open and exsposed i now need a root canal, i cant afford to get it done privatly n it may even be to late to save the tooth n it wil lhave to be exstracted but i need to be referred and wait 3 WEEKS because im poor, so 3 more weeks of pain, infection, thrush, sore ears, sore throat, my skinns dry my mouths sore n bleedig where ive been fish hooked so much and i have a whole in my gum from uessicary tooth exstraction, falling apart because im poor, couldn't be more depressed, tried everything not even gagging at clove oil any more, anyoe have any sugestions? i feel like ive been royally f#*k#d

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on November 08, 2012:

Thanks for the comment, michelleadams81. I also advocate giving the poor more access to dental care. Perhaps funding will return one of these days. Later!

michelleadams81 on November 08, 2012:

What a nice way to hep the poor have efficient dental care for them. Dental consultant should provide health teachings to them too.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on September 30, 2012:

Thanks very much for your comment, jess62877. I feel your pain and wish the government provided more money for denal care for the poor. SSI used to pay for extractions and dentures, so why can't they do it now? Good luck with your health problems. Later!

jess62877 on September 30, 2012:

i lost all my teeth within a year by age 35 because of a disease i have that causes low vitamin and calcium levels in the body. i had to be on antibiotics during that entire period because at least 1 of them was chronically abcessed. medicaid paid for the numerous dr. visits and medications but pays for absolutely nothing at the dentist, not even emergency procedures. so i had to come up with $1500 for the extraction of all my teeth. being on disability, this is impossible but luckily a local agency helped me with this expence(after being on their waiting list for 3 years). i had to go without dentures for a year and a half. being a 35 year old woman with no teeth caused numerous problems, especially psychologically. i became a shut in and gained over 75 pounds. i have not seen anyone or gone out in about 3 years. so that's what happens when the impoverished people in america don't get the dental help they so desperately need.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on September 23, 2012:

Karin, I'm happy as heck for you and your marriage! And if you've had any dental problems, I wish you luck with those too. Later!

karin on September 22, 2012:

My wife and I have been married for four years. We started having problems since two months ago and last three weeks she came to me and told me she want divorce letter. It completely broke my heart and I totally broke down. I have been praying and asking God to give me the strength to be a husband that I need to be and for any help to come on how to make my marriage move forward. I never talked to anyone i was searching for some help online. Then i found email contact on how he has help many relationship and marriage round the world. I purchased and tell him my problems and he told me what to do which i did. And he told me that in three days time i will see the positive effect. I have already seen it working she has completely change and i loves it,i have already seen an improvement in our marriage. With His help, our marriage was safe and we will spend the rest of our lives together living for our kids Thank you

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on August 26, 2012:

Thanks for the comment, Ramona Schuna. I hope your petition enacts change or at least changes some minds. The dental care you suggest would become available if the funds were properly allocated. Later!

Ramona Schuna on August 26, 2012:

This article is another good example of why I'm advocating for Universal Comprehensive Dental Health Coverage for all. I started a new petition due to similar issues I've experienced as well as some of my family and friends. I am a cancer survivor and ran into hard times as a result. Hopefully this article and petition will make some woefully needed changes to our dental health system. It's hard to understand why dental care isn't part of a total universal comprehensive health care system. If you're interested in supporting this initiative, please sign my petition, share and like it on Face Book too. My goal for this petition is 10,000 signature's.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on July 16, 2012:

Thanks for the comment, jomagoo. You have my sympathy for trying to survive on $1,200 per month. But, hey, I've subsisted on considerably less during the Great Recession. Anyway, you'll have to use your credit card if you want to restore your broken teeth. I doubt free dental clinics will do it. Another option is to have your teeth pulled and get dentures. If your credit is good enough, Care Credit will let you charge $3,000 of dental work with no interest, as long as you pay off the debt within 18 months. Good luck on your problem. Later!

jomagoo on July 11, 2012:

I am having a problem as well. I have 5 broken teeth, and I haven't been to a dentist in nearly 10 years. The welfare system seems to think that I make too much money to provide medical coverage. Recently two of the culprits have been causing me tremendous amounts of pain. I can't eat. I can't sleep. I can't move my mouth a whole lot. The pain is in my jaw, partially down my neck, my ear. I'm terrified that this will kill me. I make around $1200/month which is better than some but rent, utilities, gas, food, and basic necessities take most of that. It frustrates me beyond all reason that because I have a job and take care of my responsibilities, I can not get much needed assistance. This could literally kill me and nobody is willing to help. Yet the woman in line at the grocery with a food stamp card that's playing on her iphone gets whatever is needed. I have been popping equate brand excedrine and filling my mouth with extra strength orajel cream with slightly less pain after about a half an hour. I came from nothing which is why i've worked so hard to pay my bills and get an ok job. It's people like me who get a bum deal. I hate to screw up my credit by going to dentist and not being able to afford to pay, but it is getting to the point that I have no choice.....sad really.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on June 06, 2012:

Thanks for the comment, chef-de-jour, poor people in the U.S. can still get some services for free or with small co-pays, but that list is dwindling because of budget cuts. Perhaps the UK will suffer the same slashes. Later!

Andrew Spacey from Sheffield, UK on June 06, 2012:

Interesting angle to write about. In the UK we have a reasonable dental service which in theory is supposed to give free, yes free, dentistry in emergency to anyone regardless of who they are or what sort of income they have. It is changing though, many NHS (national Health Service) dentists switching to private business for more lucrative payments....things could get worse for those who are poor but the principle remains - if you need treatment you should be able to get it first without worrying about costs.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on January 18, 2012:

Thanks for the comment, morgan. I'm really surprised CMISP spent $22,000 on your sister's teeth! She must be indigent, otherwise they'd hit her with co-payments, amounting to, who knows? As for Medi-Cal, it pays very little for dental these days. What people do for the pain of bad teeth over an extended period of time, I don't know, but I need to find out. Good luck to you. Later!

morgan on January 17, 2012:

I am a mother of 4 my husband was hurt in a forklift accident in 2001 he is on SSI. My oldest son is disabled as well he i s blind in his left eye partially in his other. He also has autism disorders and physical turrets. I stay home with my husband and my son to take care of them because if i didn't they would have no one! I am on medical for my daughter and myself but the state of Ca will not pay for me to have anything done other than pulling of my perfect teeth that only have a cavity. I was told 4 yrs ago that the back molars were starting to have minor surface cavities. Well Medical wouldn't cover it THEN because "it wasn't bad enough" So i had to wait a year by the time my appointment rolled around There were massive cavities on all upper and lower molars and i was told it was from pregnancy as well as a small mouth not being able to brush correctly ect. They wanted $2480 to do the work at a cost of $800 down... $800!? that's more than i get in a month am i not supposed to feed my kids or pay $4 a gal for gas to take them to MANDATORY school? I mean really. What am i supposed to do? Well to say the least medical didn't cover the help i so desperately needed and its been over 5 years since the very first exam when "it wasn't bad enough" Now that its so bad i can barley eat or drink anything they STILL wont help. They literally don't care. The whol tooth structure it totally fine its only a hole at the base of all of my molar teeth. I have exposed dentine as well. Which makes my life hell. I really wish someone would care because i am in so much pain and i have tried to get help. CARE credit wont even look at me. And everyone else wants so much $$ upfront that its impossible. I don't want them pulled either because i am hoping one of these days someone will help and the program (denti-cal) will reinstate the General Adult population. Not just the mentally ill. One last note. My sister who LITERALLY hasn't brushed her teeth in 20 years got ALL of her from teeth redone and had vaneirs put on because they were black and rotting. She was in alot of pain too but instead of pulling them they replaced and restructured all of them! At a cost of $22,000 to the CMSP services. Why does CMSP get more than denti-cal? CMSP is for people who don't have kids but need medical coverage. They get it but People with families don't? Total crap.

If you would like to contact me please do so at thanks.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on December 28, 2011:

Hey, Lones1011, if you're low income or no income, Medicaid will probably pull that tooth. Check it out and let me know what happens. Later!

Lones1011 on December 28, 2011:

As of right now I am living this bad dream. At 28 years old I have needed to have a tooth pulled for months now. I buy my antibiotics at a farm supply store because I cant afford a doctor. I am waiting for tax season so I can afford to have it pulled, as I don't have the money to get it fixed. Every day is pain. I wish there were those willing to help me. Good luck to those in the same situation.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on December 07, 2011:

Thanks for the comment, Catherine. You say crowns are $100 each in India? OMG!!! As long as they don't crack within a year or two, you'll be getting a good deal. Be careful. Later!

Catherine on December 06, 2011:

I have been going to TJ for awhile but was thinking of going to Nuevo Progreso instead because crowns are a lot cheaper. Now I am not so sure after reading Dawns experience. I am now looking at going to India. I need 22 crowns and they are 100.00 each in India. Also I have been wanting to visit that country anyway

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on November 14, 2011:

Thanks for the comment, Tammy Warner. Flossing is certainly important, but some people are so poor (particularly the homeless) that they can hardly afford the floss, much less dentures as well. Preventive care such as cleaning and X-rays may be out of reach as well. Either the government helps or the poor must do without. Later!

Tammy Warner from Logansport, Indiana on November 14, 2011:

I'm a dental hygienist. Great article. The best advice to give to the poor is to be meticulous in their oral home care and floss properly everyday. Flossing alone makes a huge difference, as it prevents cavities between the teeth and prevents periodontal disease, which leads to tooth loss and dentures. Dentures are not cheap at all. And they have a life expectancy of about 10-15 years before they may need replaced.

There are some that truly are poor and can't afford dental care, but many people in lower income brackets put other priorities over their teeth. Smokers are one example. If someone can afford to smoke but not dental care, they chose smoking over their oral care. Sometimes people just need to put their priorities right.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on October 17, 2011:

Thanks for the comment, dawn. People who get dental care in Mexico should be aware of the dangers. Firstly, you probably shouldn't go there unless you or someone you go with can speak fluent Spanish. Also, be aware there is much poverty and crime in certain parts of Mexico. Only go to places where it is safe. If you aren't certain it's safe, don't go. Later!

dawn on October 17, 2011:

I went to Nuevo Progreso. I was told that it was safe. Not so.. There are no Americans or anyone that speaks english in the streets. Mexicans on the American side of the border do not want to go there. They have horror stories. If you need any help there is none. No one even the police don't speak english. It was one of the worst experience of my life. Do not go there. I was warned. I chanced it to save money. I had just bought the car. I have 5 years of payments implant

I got implants still need the crowns. I am afraid to go back.

I was a victim byhe owner of the clinic. Who lied about how safe it was, quality of the implants and the pain invloved.

My keys to my car was stolen in the clinic by the owner.

He stole my car. I spent months calling everyone I thought could help me. I am out $40,000. I look like a rabit. I only have six upper front teeth.

I had to drive out of the country with my perpetrator. There was no one who spoke English to help me. I had to pretend for my life that he did not steal my car. It

was one of the worst experience of my life.

epitomeworld on September 02, 2011:

Nice hub. Thanks Cosmo for sharing your experience and story. Really it is very painful for those who want dental treatment but lack of money they do not afford the high fees of dental clinics. I also agree with your conclusion, you described in this hub. Thanks for offering the details of Sacramento area low cost dental options.

Get White Teeth on January 20, 2011:

Oral hygiene is more important than many realize. If you allow your oral health to degrade and you end up with gum disease or gum infection, the bacteria can enter your bloodstream. This can end up damaging other parts of your body.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on December 11, 2010:

I feel your pain, sugert1. When you're on Medicaid about the only thing a dentist will do is pull your teeth. My advice is to keep what good teeth you have and get the rest pulled - at least you won't have to worry about them anymore. Then save your money and get dentures - partial or full. At that point, anyway, you'll have a nice looking set of teeth. Thanks for the comment. Later!

sugert1 on December 11, 2010:

I'm living a horror story right now. I grew up with perfect tteeth. I never had even a cavity until I was over 30 and on Medicaid. I went to the dentist one day and he promptly told me I had several cavities in my upper and lower teeth. I was told that the fillings would be the color of my teeth but when All of my upper teeth were filled I had a mouth full of silver. I did not go back to that dentist. Now years later I had to have a bridge and a root canal on my upper teeth, which my mother paid for. Only 3 to 4 years later the bridge has fallen out and my teeth are a horrible mess. All of my front teeth look fine but I have no way to do anything about my teeth at all now. I don't have medicaid anymore, of course it wouldn't do any good because there aren't any dentist around where I live that will even accept medicaid but even if there was one that would accept it, all they would do is pull them all out. I would give anything if I could afford implants. People just don't care about one another anymore these days. It's all about the almighty dollar. It's really a shame how some people have so much money that they can't even spend it all while others have absolutely nothing.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on September 15, 2010:

Thanks for reading this, Lynda! Yes indeed, dental work is an all-around bum trip - even when you can afford it. Later!

lmmartin from Alberta and Florida on September 15, 2010:

My mouth hurts reading this. So does my pocket book. Lynda

Related Articles