Have Trouble Affording Dental Care In Massachusetts? What Are Your Options?

If you're a resident of the Bay State and work a job that doesn't provide dental insurance, you may reluctantly go longer than the recommended twelve months between cleanings and checkups. Unfortunately, this neglect can sometimes lead to expensive dental problems that can spread to other parts of your body if left untreated. What are your best low-cost dental treatment options? Read on to learn more about some changes that may be coming to the way dental care is administered in Massachusetts, as well as how you can take advantage of inexpensive dental treatment options now.

What changes may be coming to the way dental treatment is handled in Massachusetts? 

In Massachusetts, as in most states, the majority of dental repair procedures -- like root canals, crowns, and even regular fillings -- must be performed by a licensed dentist. While dental hygienists can perform dental cleanings and X-rays, you'll need a dentist's services to go any further, and this can sometimes be pricey without dental insurance. However, state legislators recently advanced a bill that would recognize the role of advanced dental hygienist practitioner, similar to a nurse practitioner in bridging the gap between hygienists (and nurses) and dentists (and doctors).

These dental hygienist practitioners would be able to perform routine fillings, tooth extractions, and even root canals on baby teeth, helping diminish your treatment costs while still providing you a professional level of care. Under this proposed law, dental hygienist practitioners are required to put in at least 500 supervised clinical hours before being released to work on patients alone. These practitioners are also required to carry malpractice insurance, ensuring that anyone injured in their care will be adequately compensated for lasting damage.

What can you do to afford dental care if you don't have insurance?

If you're low-income, you may want to look into your Medicaid coverage. While not all states extend Medicaid dental coverage to adults, Massachusetts does offer some dental coverage through its MassHealth program. For those in need of a cavity filling, root canal and crown, or extraction, MassHealth benefits should allow you to undergo your needed procedure at little to no out-of-pocket cost. You'll need to find a dentist that accepts this MassHealth coverage and ensure you're aware of any non-covered costs or copayments prior to undergoing your procedure to prevent being surprised by a bill.

For those who don't qualify for MassHealth dental coverage but can't afford to shell out a rent payment or several weeks' worth of groceries for a dental procedure, there are a few options that can help you either lower the cost or spread it out over time. The first is to look into a local dental school for treatment. These dental schools rely on "volunteer" patients to help train students, but can also help provide you with an inexpensive cleaning and even fillings under the supervision of a licensed dentist. If you're dealing with several problems at once, you may be able to schedule multiple visits to the dental school to have each of your issues thoroughly treated.

You may also be able to qualify for dental financing through one of any number of local dentists. This financing will help spread out the cost of your treatment over months or even years (depending upon the total amount charged). Many of these offers will carry no or low interest for a brief period of time, allowing you to pay off the loan early and avoid finance charges entirely. Many dentists can even provide a modest discount if you choose to finance your treatment through a company selected by the dentist's office. 

If you live in another state, like Washington, and have questions about how to afford dental services, talk to a dentist at a dental office like Northwest Dental Services and Implant Center for more information.