How to Get Free Orthodontic Care

Applying and removing braces are two of the most common procedures performed by orthodontists.
Applying and removing braces are two of the most common procedures performed by orthodontists. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

While dentists provide general care for your teeth, orthodontists specialize in treating dental and facial disorders. These procedures are often carried out for cosmetic reasons, but they can also be important for your health. Orthodontic procedures may cost thousands of dollars, making them prohibitive for many lower-income individuals and families. Fortunately, there are a number of methods to obtain free or low-cost orthodontic care.

Dental Schools

All dentists and orthodontists are required to train at specialized schools until they have reached the necessary level of proficiency. These schools also offer free and discounted dental procedures to patients. You may be apprehensive about having orthodontic work performed by anyone other than an experienced professional, but students are not allowed to perform procedures until they've reached a sufficient level of expertise, and procedures are generally overseen by instructors. The American Dental Association provides a list of dental schools across the United States. Contact the school directly to ensure it offers the procedure you need.

Free Clinics

Free dental clinics can be found across the country, but whether they perform orthodontic work is up to the discretion of each clinic. These clinics are set up to help low-income individuals and people who can't afford the necessary dental care, so they are unlikely to perform nonessential or purely cosmetic procedures. Although these clinics operate on a walk-in basis, they are often overburdened, so call ahead and expect to wait in line for several hours. Websites such as can help you find free dental clinics in your area by typing in your postal code.


Several funding packages exist to assist low-income individuals who need dental care. Again, these packages do not cover purely cosmetic work, but they may cover your orthodontic work if its necessary for health reasons, such as repairing a broken tooth. Medicaid is the largest of these funding bodies and has programs in most states across America. However, programs vary greatly from state to state. Qualifications are determined not only by income, but also other factors including age, whether you are pregnant and family size. Call your local Medicaid office to see if you qualify.

Dental Insurance

If you`re looking to receive free orthodontic work, one of the best options is to obtain dental insurance. Many companies offer dental insurance, which may pay for your orthodontic work. When you get a new job or change insurers, research the insurance package carefully to find out whether the needed procedure is covered by the plan.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not feel like you are taking advantage by applying for Medicaid. Trust me, the government will take advantage of you if they were in a financial bind.
  • Do not feel like a free loader for asking for charity. The Salvation Army exists to offer charity. They enjoy it. I'm sure you can donate your gently used items to them to balance out the Karma.
  • It is nearly impossible, and very expensive to attempt to switch orthodontists once your braces are put on. Pick a doctor that you will stick with.

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