The economic downturn of the past few years has left many Oregonians reeling. Much of what we once bought without a second thought is now out of our financial reach,…

Your Dental Health

 The economic downturn of the past few years has left many Oregonians reeling. Much of what we once bought without a second thought is now out of our financial reach, even something as vitally important as dental care.

Because disease in the teeth and gums is now known to travel throughout the body and sometimes cause life-threatening medical problems, even those on the tightest budgets cannot afford to put their oral health on the back burner. Fortunately, valuable resources do exist that can make it possible for residents of Oregon to continue visiting their dentists on a regular basis to receive low cost dental care.


If you have children who are Medicaid eligible, this partnership program between Oregon and the federal government should be your first stop in seeking oral healthcare for them. That is because Medicaid covers all preventative, maintenance and emergency dental care for kids under 21. That even includes medically necessary fluoride, sealants and dentures.

    • The only cloud on this horizon is that many dentists do not accept Medicaid patients. But if you’re lucky enough to have found one who does, Oregon Medicaid will even cover oral care for eligible adults.
    • Because specifics can change, it’s best to contact your dentist’s office or Medicaid case worker to get current details.


Senior citizens and people with disabilities are often eligible for Medicare, a federal program designed to help cover the costs of hospitalization, rehabilitation, long-term care and medical equipment.

    • Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover any routine preventative or maintenance dental care, only helping patients to pay for procedures if they are a necessary part of a larger medical operation.
    • Therefore, those relying on Medicare must seek other options when it comes to finding help paying dentist bills.

Other Programs

If you are elderly or disabled and have no dental insurance, you may be eligible to get treatment through Donated Dental Services, a nationwide collaboration of over 15,000 oral care professionals committed to tend to some of the poorest and most vulnerable patients. If you are found to be eligible, your comprehensive treatment will be free of charge.

If you are having a dental emergency and have no insurance, another option is the Dental Access Program. Depending on your income, you may be asked to furnish a down payment. In addition, you will pay for your emergency services on a sliding fee scale based on your income.

Dental Schools and Clinics

One often overlooked source of low-cost dental care can be found in clinics sponsored by schools of dentistry around the country, including:

    • Oregon Health and Science University School of Dentistry Clinic
    • Pacific University of Oregon Dental Health Clinic
    • Mt. Hood Community College Dental Hygiene Clinic
    • Portland Community College Dental Clinic

In programs such as these, patients can get dental care at a reduced price, often thirty percent less than what they would pay at a private dental practice. The students who furnish the oral exams and procedures are closely supervised by practicing dentists. Payment in full is expected at the time of treatment, and wait times can be long.

How Discount Dental Plans Can Help

Another valuable resource of low-cost dental care can be found if you become a member of a discount dental plan such as the Careington 500 Series.

    • For a low fee of just $9.95 for individuals, $14.95 for two people, and $17.95 for three or more, you will gain access to a comprehensive network of dentists and specialists.
    • As long as you remain within the network, you can expect to save anywhere from 15-60% on your dental costs. Best of all, you can start immediately, with no paperwork, deductibles, maximums, or waiting periods.

Here is just a small sample of how cheap procedures are for plan members in your state:

    • Oral exam before discount: $18
    • Full mouth x-ray before discount: $55
    • Cleaning before discount: $41
    • Porcelain crown before discount: $606
    • Root canal before discount: $382
    • Complete upper or lower denture before discount: $826
    • Braces: flat 15-20% discount


As has been the case throughout the country, Oregonians have suffered in many ways because of our nation’s economic problems. However, thanks to a variety of helpful resources, our dental care does not need to be yet another casualty of the hard times we are experiencing. Take some time to see how these low cost dental resources can help you.

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