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Does Medicaid Cover Dental?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Medicaid, a government program which provides some health care services to low-income Americans, provides dental care in some cases, but not all. The coverage rules vary, depending on the age of the individual, and the state in which he or she resides. Several proposals to reform the Medicaid policies surrounding dental care have been presented, including a push for more complete coverage.

Proper dental care can be critically important. Oral pain cause extreme pain and suffering, along with lost productivity and missed days of work. Certain oral problems can also cause complications such as systemic infections which may turn deadly if not treated. In states which provide more extensive dental coverage, the focus is often on routine preventative care, as this saves money in the long term by addressing dental problems early or preventing them from emerging.

All individuals under 21 who are on Medicaid have their dental services covered. Individuals over 21 can access varying levels of coverage, depending on the policies in their state. Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming provide care primarily in emergency situations. Some of these states cover emergency dental surgery, while others only cover basic critical care.

Residents of California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Washington can access more extended dental services. Each state on this list has some specific restrictions, such as the number of visits in a year, or a copay requirement, but these states generally offer preventative care, such as regular dental exams and cleanings. Some states exclude emergency care, under the argument that dental emergencies should not occur with routine maintenance.

Specific details about the dental plan offered under a state's Medicaid plan can be obtained from social workers. As a general rule, patients must use a dentist who has been approved as a provider, and he or she may be expected to obtain a referral from another provider for specialty services such as dentures and orthodontic gear. A list of Medicaid-approved dentists can usually be obtained from the agency which handles Medicaid applications and claims, and it is a good idea to enroll early with a dental provider, since some dentists limit the number of new Medicaid patients they will accept in a year.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon946234 — On Apr 17, 2014

Look for places that say they will help you regardless of your ability to pay. Oftentimes their prices are cheaper and they may give you a discount if you have no insurance. One I am thinking of gives you a 30 percent discount if you join their smile protection plan for a small fee (don't remember how much, but pretty sure it was less than $30 for a year's coverage, and that included some x rays and a free cleaning).

Secondly, if you have no other options, look into Care Credit. It's a credit card that you can use on medical procedures.. but the difference is that there is no fee if you pay off the balance within the specified time period (which I was allowed to pick). My credit is shot because of my financial difficulties, not because I don't want to pay, I always pay my debts though it may take years.

If you pursue Care Credit, pick the longest length of time if given the option, they offer six months to pay up to 24 months to pay. My credit limit was and is only $800, but combining the cheaper dental places, with the plan for those without insurance offered there, and the care credit, as made it possible for me to get some dental care -- a little here and there, and I was in desperate need (still am really).

Though things are still incredibly tight, the care credit has been a Godsend for me. I don't charge my dental work on a regular credit card because I cannot afford them already and there is interest. If you pay off the care credit, you pay nothing additional. My credit is pretty bad and they gave me a credit line, so this may be an option for you.

By anon945186 — On Apr 11, 2014

What really, really torques me off is not only does the government not care about our oral health, but what irks me most is Medicaid patients can get dental care, but Medicare patients can't. I agree Medicaid patients should get dental care, but what about Medicare patients. Everyone needs good oral health.

I am on SSDI. I worked all my life to earn it, busted my back being a nurse with a Master's degree and helping others, but yet I am not eligible for dental care being on Medicare. I am on a very fixed monthly budget. My teeth are breaking and falling out of my mouth. I think it is highly unfair that Medicaid gets dental care, but Medicare patients do not. Something doesn't jive here and it stems from the almighty government.

The reason they do not support people in getting good oral health care is because there is no money in it for them. There is money it for them when it comes to our health care system, but dental health care has large no systems.

They are not a large entity like our health care so therefore, the government won't help out if there is nothing in it for them which of course, is money. They only care about themselves and not for us folks in need. I think the people in our government are so sick. Sick psychologically. They want to have their fancy homes, fancy cars, fancy dinner parties, fancy clothing, private schools for their kids, but we Americans can't get dental care because we can't afford it.

Our country -- and this is proven -- has the poorest in oral health care. Is our government proud of that fact? I doubt it. They sit back, laugh, and I’ll bet they get their free dental care. I am now strongly considering going to Mexico for my dental care. They have reputable dentists there and in fact some were trained in the US. I was quoted $800 for denture implants and when I get all extractions and the denture implants, it will cost a total of $2,000 in Mexico. In the states, the cheapest I could find for these procedures is $10,000-plus. Quite a big difference. Even with travel expenses, lodging, and the procedures, it is a lot less expensive for me to get dental care completed in Mexico.

Many Americans are now taking the opportunity to go to Mexico for dental care. It you research it, you can find many websites written by US folks who have gone to Mexico for dental care. They have some good information on what to do and not what to do when doing this. I had a family member go to Mexico for dental care. He drove all the way from North Dakota and it saved him $8,000 by going to Mexico. He is very happy with the care he received, has never had complications, and it has been six years since he had the dental work done.

Another thing that irks me is US dentists think they have us over a barrel and can charge us high fees. They know the government will not step in and go after these dentists charging astronomical fees. Well, not so. We have options. I know I will be going to Mexico. As I said, even with travel expenses, lodging, and dental work done it will cost me much, much less. Some of the dentists in Mexico even will lodge their patients at cheap or free rates if the patient has to stay over for major procedures. It isn't nasty lodging, either. Some of their accommodations are very nice and inexpensive. Mexican dentists have the same training as US dentists do. They have criteria to meet to be dentists in Mexico just as US dentists do.

I would check it out if you need some dental care and especially, those who need immediate care. Also, dental care should go with medical care, period. Teeth are in our bodies and should be included with medical care. Why the two are separate I will never know. Some Bozo thought oral health should not be included with our physical care must have been on drugs. Or some government Bozo I should say.

Anyway, why see a US dentist and have him rip you off when you can go to a dentist in Mexico who will give quality care and charge a lot less?

By anon937197 — On Mar 04, 2014

I think its time to sue the U.S. government for allowing companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, etc. to put excessive amounts of sugar into consumer products without any warning labels on them. Sugar will feed the bacteria in your mouth that cause tooth decay. There is no reason to have so much sugar in products. To them its this: More sugar= more sales. To us it's: more sugar= low health. Regulate! Regulate!

By anon927143 — On Jan 22, 2014

I have just been told by a free clinic in Kansas that if you are in a nursing home and in need of dentures, Medicare may be able to defer payments to the home to pay for the dentures. If that is true, my mother will finally get the care that she

needs. The nursing home takes all but $50 of her SS checks each month. The dentists here won't take payments. they all want paid in full at the time of service so she has not been able to get the work done, I don't want free dental care, but why won't dentists take payments? I can make $50 to $75 payments each month. She cannot get a loan or a credit card. She is 92 and her teeth went bad in the two years that she has been in the home.

Oral health care in nursing homes is non existent at best. I guess it is not in their job description.

By anon353748 — On Nov 02, 2013

Go to Mexico. Now you will hear stories of people saying the care there is isn't as good. Yeah I will say maybe. But it is still definitely worth doing. I have horrible teeth but I still have teeth. So...

By anon343385 — On Jul 29, 2013

Dentists are the real vampires. Very few of them are in it to help people.

By anon342353 — On Jul 19, 2013

We send billions of dollars to rogue countries, but can't even take care of Americans who pay taxes!

By anon342227 — On Jul 18, 2013

I wish you all luck.

By anon342224 — On Jul 18, 2013

I think that there definitely should be better dental care in the country, even for those who can't afford it. But I must say some people in this country believe that everyone on Medicaid didn't work or aren't currently working.

I work every day and pay my bills, but living in this country makes it very hard to save on a low income. I personally don't think it's fair for me to work and help pay Social Security and Medicare, neither of which I will benefit from when I need it. Mind you, I have been working since I was 14. The only reason why I fell on hard times was because I got laid off around the same time my daughter came into this world.

I shouldn't have my teeth pulled when they can be saved when I have put my time in. And yes, there are those who are benefiting, but while you are trying to prevent them from getting this, you are preventing those who deserve and have worked for these benefits for getting the proper care.

I have had teeth removed only to have a dentist to tell me that Medicaid will pay for a bridge and guess what? They just denied me, so now I will pay out of pocket and either my bills won't be paid or I will have missing teeth.

I am furious because I see other countries making their health care situations work. Why can't we? I will tell you why: because doctors don't become doctors because they want to help. Don't get me wrong. Some do, but the majority are in it for the money. Now they may accept Medicaid, but they get paid so that's money they don't have to chase down, unlike those who save and are on payment plans.

I wish you the best of luck. I am in a similar situation but I am going to have to pay for me not taking care of my teeth. --So Sad on Long Island

By anon325929 — On Mar 19, 2013

I have a dream that someday, we will give everyone medical care based solely on those who need it, and not go by the size of their pocketbooks/wallets. I hope that someday, people will care about one another as fellow human beings, that we will want to do the right thing and be there for everyone.

Some day, I believe we will want to do the right thing, not because we have to, but because we know we should, because it's humane.

If you are rich or well off and look down at the poor, you are more poor then "they" will ever be, and you need to live more lives that suffer in order to understand the strengths and hardships people without lots of money have.

We live in 2013 America and world, not 1913. The American dream is gone, so wake up to the nightmare and start helping people. Help promote the World Humane Dream.

By anon320120 — On Feb 16, 2013

Dental services for Medicaid patients were only provided for inpatients at hospitals in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania changed their providers and not one of them provide dental for any reason. My wisdom teeth are infected and the hospital told me all they can do is give me palliative care. I was assured that they will be able to treat any further infection but if I can't afford the dental work ($20,000 was the cheapest quote so far), I'll just have to wait for the teeth to fall out on their own.

Every time I go back to the emergency room for more pain killers and antibiotics, I'm chastised by the doctors for "not taking care of the problem" and every time I get a lecture about how I'm going to die from meningitis.

By anon319298 — On Feb 12, 2013

This is horrible. I am 66, sitting here with a crown that has become infected and my gums and cheek are swollen and aching. This is horrible.

By anon284123 — On Aug 08, 2012

Dental care is so important. Why folks neglect it is beyond comprehension. Teeth should last us for decades but we must be diligent in the care of them.

Local dental colleges are a great place to get work done but it can be time consuming. I've personally had a lot of work done by students but the work was of amazing quality and always checked by doctor teachers. Hang in there, be persistent and take good care of your teeth and please make sure your kids take care of their teeth. Let them be the generation in your family that stops poor dental hygiene.

By anon250943 — On Feb 27, 2012

Most people on medicaid live on the system for life, as do their kids. This country was built on make it or break it. Since when is there a responsibility for individuals who have spent eight years of their lives to see people who refuse to pay, are rude, smell bad, complain about everything, are sue happy, and will not hesitate to call after hours and demand treatment since they decided they did not want to come in for their scheduled appointment?

Quite frankly, I think some of these people should suffer until they can support themselves. It's called saving up. The need to get rid of their fancy iPhones, flat screen tvs, new cars, cable, etc. and actually take some responsibility for themselves.

The working population should not be supporting those who are deadbeats. It makes me sick how so many abuse the system. It should be two years and then they are on their own.

For those who have truly been working and have fallen on bad times, I wish you all the best in getting back on your feet. Don't give up.

By anon234977 — On Dec 15, 2011

Don't come to Texas if you are on medicaid and over 21 years old. You don't get dental on medicaid, or any help with your dental care, broken teeth or toothaches. Missing teeth, nothing. Dental colleges are 50.00 or 200.00 fee. Who in the world who gets ssi and s.s can afford that? You have to live in a certain area to get help from clinic.

My daughter's teeth are all broken off because of the meds she takes, but there's no help in Dallas, Texas. She is on medicaid and has to go to the hospital for toothaches, and medicaid does not pay for a hospital visit for a tooth pain, so they turn it over to the credit bureau. What a joke it is.

The government employee has the best health and dental you can get, but if you are poor you can forget it. Our government will help different countries before they help us, but we all pay our taxes and we get nothing. They think we are all asking for a hand out and that's a joke too. Even if you have blood poisoning from your teeth, health and human services does not care whether you die or not, because they have good dental insurance. Now you get it. Homeless, poor in the USA.

By anon227724 — On Nov 06, 2011

Everyone loses in dentistry. It is sad that we live in a world where you have to explain or apologize for needing help because we are unable to pay for whatever reason. People on Medicaid, many, many worked and paid taxes over many years. Handout should not even fit the profile. We also pay taxes to help the poor. Have we forgotten we're supposed to help them.

I can relate to every story here. I don't have a lack of compassion for dentists. They are not a charitable group. But they are not angels either.

Medicaid is a sad excuse for government social responsibility. People get sick and die from some tooth related problems.

The never ending stream of excuses both the medical and dentistry community have is unacceptable. Yet, we can't ignore that there are some left who care enough to get beyond the money and see human suffering.

You always hear about welfare cheats and Medicaid. What a perfect excuse to keep from serving people in pain.

No one had a problem collecting taxes from paychecks over the years. Now they want to call social Security a welfare program. Ask the people who worked to pay for SS until retirement and found they were out in the cold.

Where is the money we pour into the government through all the taxes we pay on almost everything. Where is it going if not to the people who paid into it. We don't have tax write offs or pharmaceutical companies backing us up.

I read an article about a young child dying from a tooth that had become so infected that it spread to his brain. His mother on Medicaid and by the time she found a doctor to see him it was too late. He died.

There is not an excuse in the world any medical professional can have for allowing anyone to die.

The medical and dental professions have been broken for a long time and are un-fixable. You see, you have to care to be able to fix such atrocities.

By anon222606 — On Oct 16, 2011

It's a shame people have to explain their life stories. Are people actually reading this selfish crap?

By anon206494 — On Aug 16, 2011

@anon135377: I am on medicaid because I lost my job due to the crappy economy. I don't own a fancy car, my child's clothes are all bought used as are my own, I have sold everything of value that I own just to keep a roof over my family's head.

I've never asked for handouts, but in order to care for my child, I have to be healthy. I lost a filling literally a month after I lost my job, and insurance. Is it wrong of me to just hope at night that someone out there has a little compassion and would at least attempt to help?

I don't support the war, nor did I support Bush and his shenanigans, but as an individual from a low class family, I have no say in where my taxes are spent. Not everyone abuses the system, and some people do just need a little bit of help.

Hell, I'd scrub your floors with a toothbrush for min wage at this point just so I could have an income of some sort, and no I'm not kidding, but I still can't land a job in this economy. Not everyone is bad.

By spitfire1959 — On Jun 26, 2011

To the dentist posting as Anon135377 who commented on patients on medicaid with new cars, etc. One thing to consider if you see one of these patients with a new car: In our family situation I am a disabled vet and two of my three children receive SSI for disabilities. We live on no other income because I must remain home with a home bound child. I receive no child support because their father fled the country to avoid paying child support. He earns over $80,000.00 tax free US dollars working for an oil company in a country that does not have reciprocity for child support, nor can the law touch him there.

I had an old car that I continually had to put an excessive amount of money into to keep running. I need the car to take my son to specialists hours away from our home. He could not go to some of these because our car did not work, nor would he ride with someone he did not know to get there (autism/OCD.) When we received an inheritance I wanted to use the money towards greatly needed dental care for myself and braces for my three children. Unfortunately, I was told by the dental school, where I went to get discounted care, that it would total over $30,000. Some discount. So, I opted to get braces for my children. That, with a family discount for paying for all three up front, was going to cost over $21,000.

In the time it took to get the estimates for care, the car had another break down with over $2,700 for repairs, the washing machine, dryer, garbage disposal, refrigerator, computer, all broke down beyond repair. Murphy's Law. Unbelievable, but true. Because my two children receive SSI, I had to spend the inheritance within 30 days, and am only allowed to keep a very small amount for savings, or lose the SSI for them and along with that lose the medicaid insurance. You do lose the payments for the 30 days or until the money is spent down. I chose, out of necessity to replace those broken items, including the car, with new ones because once the money was spent, I could no longer afford the repairs. The savings allowed would never cover what we lost over that short period of time.

It is a choice of food or repairs. So no dental for any of us. I am going in to get my fourth tooth pulled because of severe pain and no other choice. I have taken care of my teeth over the years. Spent thousands of dollars on veneers, crowns, root canals, etc. at times when I was working. My parents paid to have braces for me not only once, but twice, because the first ortho did not recommend pulling four teeth along with wisdom teeth that were coming in incorrectly. A lot of money spent to have this happen. My teeth are yellow/green from tetracycline staining again because the veneers cannot be replaced. That along with losing teeth, you as a dentist should know how psychologically damaging that is.

I worked for years including 14-plus in the military. I am not lazy, Going to work would be like a vacation compared to what I deal with. Even if I worked, I wonder if I could afford dental care. But, my point in responding to your new car statement is that my family needed a reliable vehicle to get our family members to appointments needed for health care far away from our home. SSI and disability does not allow you to maintain savings to allow for emergency situations/repairs. A new car at least allowed us the peace of mind of three years of the warranty. I don't drink, smoke, do drugs, have hobbies, go out, or spend money unwisely. I have two changes of clothes for each season. No tats either. I am sure some may spend unwisely. But I just thought I would give you something to think about. --A view from the other side.

By anon183552 — On Jun 05, 2011

What about the business and educational loans the dentist must pay? The dentist was not given the money to go to school or start a business for free. What about the people that provide services and supplies. They want to be paid as well. Then one talks of law suits.

Malpractice insurance isn't free, even if a dentist is careful and responsible. Those reasons are why dental care isn't free. As far as payment plans go, most offices offer payment plans through third party companies (who also charge the dentist for this service).

Most small private offices don't do payment plans anymore because they have so many people default on their promised monthly payments. Far too many patients don't pay their bill as planned once their root canal has made the tooth feel better or the crown is glued permanently in their mouth.

The bottom line is don't eat excessive amounts of sugar and don't be negligent of your oral health. In other words, brush and floss three times a day as you have been told to do since you were six

By anon181039 — On May 28, 2011

Though i need dental as bad, if not worse, than most, after two heart surgeries and knee replacements, my teeth have been rotting for 10 years. Yeah I'm in need but you must always remember what medicaid does help you with, and start being thankful for that and make some personal sacrifices to help yourself. Not everything in life is free.

By anon173503 — On May 07, 2011

to anon168939: Where is your comment about the non-custodial parent who doesn't pay? or your comment about the so called judges (many politically appointed) that let the non-custodial parent off the hook and in the same breath, demand visitation? no, you want to attack the custodial parent relentlessly too! There is no help from the govt. in VA, trust me, but call your nearest dental school and see if they will help. Many residents are allowed with supervision. If not they may be able to point you to a charity.

By anon168939 — On Apr 19, 2011

The recurring theme I see: "I'm a young single mom." My answer is to quit sleeping with losers!

By anon166174 — On Apr 07, 2011

I am currently on the medicaid living in Illinois. Since I am over 21, the only thing the Medicaid dental plan will do is pull the teeth and not fix them.

A few years back, before I lost my last job and dental insurance, I had to go to a medicaid dentist for a root canal. After an exam the dentist told me I had two options: pay him $700 or pull the tooth. He said the Medicaid does not cover root canals or crowns. I explained that I could not afford the repair and asked him if we could work out a payment plan. He said that was not an option, so I needed to pull it. (Maybe he thought someone on welfare didn't have any money to even make the payments). A few years later, I went for a checkup and my new dentist asked me about the missing tooth. I explained that I could not get it fixed, so it had to be pulled. He told me that was a bad idea because as I get older my teeth will shift out of alignment and will cause more problems. He had estimated that this repair will roughly cost $2,000 for one tooth.

Now I have a new set of problems. I have to get four teeth replaced, three crown, two root canals, and a deep cleaning. Again, the dentist said my only option was to pay him a lot of money or pull the teeth. That is horrible: live in pain or go around without any teeth at 41.

My experience with the dental plan that medicaid offers has been horrendous. I live in the Chicagoland area, and I have been to three state dentists. In my opinion, their extremely biased and discriminatory, if your on medicaid.

The first dentist was very cold shouldered and did not want to use a sedative. He said it would get in the way of his work. The second dentist had the same personality. When I went to the third dentist and complained of an earache from tooth pain, he didn't even attempt to resolve the issue, prescribe any pain medicine or antibiotics. It was just get you in and out since you couldn't afford the treatment. My question is for the last dentist, is this a great day for a malpractice lawsuit? I mean I came to you in pain with a possible infection and you wouldn't take the time to fix the problem.

I'm so thankful that I have found a union job that offers dental insurance and that I will be finding a new dentist. In my opinion, if I was not good enough to help when I was on medicaid, I'm not good enough to help when I have insurance and a little bit of money to spare.

By anon163465 — On Mar 28, 2011

I think that no matter what state you live in, if you have medicaid it should pay for everything or anything you need done regardless of age. I think it is so stupid you have to be under 21 in order to get something done.

I am 22 and just had a child and i have to get five teeth pulled because they won't cover getting them capped instead. Now i have to go around looking like this and I can't do anything about it. I have no money to get fake ones. What young teenager or child needs crowns or caps? None of them. When you get older is when the problems actually start.

It is also sad that the only way you can get a medical card in the state of kentucky is if you have had or are having a child, or if you are disabled in any way. The government isn't fair and never will be. All they care about is money. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer and that's how it will always be. I am mad that i can't get the dental care i need, so instead i will lose all my teeth before i am 30, and that is just not right. Not for me or anyone else out there who has the same problems.

By anon162900 — On Mar 25, 2011

anon36956: I read your post and thought it was something I wrote and forgot about. I am exactly like you with the teeth and the depression and not leaving the house. I am only 38 and now have to wear a partial denture. Dental costs are outrageous and coverage is a joke!

By anon162088 — On Mar 22, 2011

I'm from california and moved to Georgia recently and I'm a young, single mom. my two year old son constantly sees me crying and in pain and my face swollen. the dentist charges way too much for the work to be done.

i understand they need to make a living but the thing is they want to live like kings with their $40,000 dollar cars and their huge homes. that's why the u.s medicaid programs won't pay for dental anymore, because we can't even afford these greedy dental offices fees.

my teeth need to be cleaned, some broken teeth extracted, two root canals and a couple of replacement teeth, mainly a few in the front.

i wish my little boy did not see me in pain all the time. I still take care of my son and our home. i have to be a single mom and also suffer with extreme tooth pain and severe swelling.

By anon154479 — On Feb 21, 2011

To the dentist in post 20: Being in need of dental care, and the immense pain I'm currently in due to teeth I broke eating a pop tart (god that sounds stupid) I wish that you dentists were able to help out more. However, I fully understand the point where you are coming from. You deserve to earn a living as well, and frankly, it's not the dental professional's responsibility to offer free services to those in need.

Dental services need to be negotiated between insurance, and the holders. It's a shame that dentists are caught in the crossfire as the bad guys because they won't offer free services to those in need.

Now I'm going to go and coddle my broken teeth and cry until the pain goes away.

By anon144047 — On Jan 18, 2011

I say let the lawsuits begin.

By anon135377 — On Dec 18, 2010

This is sad. I'm a dentist, and I have a private office, but also work for a non-profit clinic I helped to set up, so I know all about these situations people are talking about.

"try explaining that to a dentist and see if they'll help you...not a chance!" I am sad too that people don't have a little sympathy for the dentist. We're not all greedy, careless, and without compassion, but how many free procedures are we supposed to offer?

You might really need a car or really need groceries, but do you think the car dealer or grocery store manager are terrible for not just giving them away? Like a lot of dentists, many of these folks do actually give what they can to charity, all while running a small business that provides important jobs of as many people as we can.

Why do so many of you feel the government owes you so much? I mean, i would love to have universal coverage but we live in a society where the richest people have tricked the rest of the country into voting for policies (like the Bush tax cuts) that help only the richest one percent! Hey, poor people! If you don't like this, don't vote for those who support these ridiculous bills!

Also, don't support things like the stupid war in Iraq! Do you know how much health (or for that matter dental) care the US could afford if it weren't spending billions over there? Oh, it's important maybe, but what's more important? I'll leave that to you.

Finally, regarding what dental student Brandon wrote: I've worked with Medicaid in both Ohio and New Hampshire and I think the stories about cumbersome paperwork and late payments are generally untrue. Are the reimbursements lower? Yes, but I look at this as something we can do to help society. If every dentist took just a few Medicaid patients, each one would be able to offset the lost revenue with their other insured or out of pocket patients.

One more thought: It never stops amazing me how many medicaid patients have new cars, the latest cell phone, expensive sneakers and (my favorite) tons and tons of tattoos. Yes, I realize that many people are legitimately poor and do not have any of these luxuries. But if more Medicaid patients who do have some disposable income made better decisions about how they spend their money, maybe they could afford more dental care than the state provides. Again, it's a generalization that may not apply to *you.* but I've sure seen a lot of it. --NH Dr.

By anon134143 — On Dec 13, 2010

I understand that dental health is very important to overall physical health. However, what about emotional health? No one has commented on that.

For 13 years I was abused by my ex-husband which resulted in chipped, cracked, broken and missing teeth. My depression has now evolved to OCD, anxiety, and agoraphobia (I do NOT like to leave the house). Of course my teeth are one of the base reasons to these conditions. I have been hospitalized for attempted suicide.

Try to explain this to a dentist and see if they will help you, not a chance!

By anon125826 — On Nov 10, 2010

My granddaughter, who is a single mom and lives in Louisiana, recently got a medicaid card saying dental was provided. However, when she called for an appointment they told her all they provided for a 20 year old is dentures. How ridiculous is that? She needs dental care. Where can she get free dental care in Louisiana?

By ntimmy4u2 — On Nov 03, 2010

our government should include dental care in medicare medicaid programs and any other health care plans. It's not right. people suffer with bad teeth and it's hard to find help.

Thank god i found a dr. pittman in bristol, va accepted my va. medicaid through smiles for children program and pulled seven teeth and x rays all free. They say medicaid approves and covers for adults for emergency extractions, but later on, after the doctor did all the work, i got a letter from medicaid saying they denied all his billing them so i hope the doctor got paid later on, but he was a fantastic dentist and did a fantastic job.

By anon123560 — On Nov 02, 2010

i started getting dental work done in oregon. i have a chipped tooth and 4 broken in a car accident! I'm constantly dealing with abscesses and can't find one dental plan in any state that works with medicare-medicaid. i guess dental care is just for the wealthy!

By anon122915 — On Oct 30, 2010

I have a few teeth that are chipped and falling apart, and one that goes into severe pain when I eat, though not this is rare. I keep trying to find out if dental restoration is covered in Michigan for adults 25 or over but keep coming up with nothing.

If adults aren't covered, well, I understand children are our future, but that means nothing if our present stinks, meaning their future will stink, too.

By amypollick — On Aug 15, 2010

@Anon104097: I live in AL and I know there is a program in place at the University of Alabama at Birmingham which provides dental care for persons with special needs. You could contact UAB and see if they know of a similar program in GA. Or, you could try looking at places like Emory or UGA, depending on where you are, to see if any of their dental schools provide care at a reduced rate. Good luck.

By anon104097 — On Aug 15, 2010

I live in Georgia with my 30 year old son who is mentally challenged. His abilities and mental skills are those of a four to five year old. He is on medicaid but they will not pay for dental until his teeth rot out and have to be pulled.

His dental health is so severe due to seizure medications and professional care that I am afraid for his life. I can barely keep a roof over our heads and cannot afford the care he needs. What I am supposed to do? Just wait until it's reached the point that he has blood poisoning or an infection reaches his heart or brain and then rush him to the hospital and hope for the best?

Please let me know if there is any supplemental insurance I can afford or some type of program that helps people like my son.

By ntimmy4u2 — On Aug 10, 2010

this is crazy. medicaid or medicare covers wheelchairs, scooters and all those expensive things but for teeth they don't have any adult coverage, and some people just suffer and end up with blood poisoning and die or are bad off in hospital, which medicare and medicare will pay for, but why wait until it gets that bad?

My gums swell and i need fillings now and my assigned doctor and the emergency room say they are not allowed to give me antibiotics or anything for my teeth or they don't get paid by medicare or medicaid. How crazy is that?

By anon102668 — On Aug 09, 2010

This is so sad. Like many of you, I too, now am faced with a large dental bill, no insurance, no payment plan, and a problem that keeps getting worse every day.

By formasa — On Aug 02, 2010

ntimmy4u2 - I am not sure about medicaid helping you, but you can try going to a dental school in Va or any other state; they will charge you at a discounted price - it is as if you will have insurance!

I am currently going to the VCU dental school in Richmond, Va. I find that traveling one hour to get work done on my teeth is well worth the trip. They really take care of you and the work has to be done perfectly by the students as they are monitored very closely by seasoned instructors! It is truly the best!

You can even go there if you have insurance and save even more money! They will take very good care of you! If you can't go to the VCU dental school, you may be able to find another dental school to go to.

By anon89957 — On Jun 13, 2010

ntimmy4u2, my husband just went through a similar situation with his teeth. he's disabled on medicare and no dental coverage. for days he was in terrible pain and had a huge cyst on his cheek.

he finally had to go to the ER and hope for the best. he was given antibiotics and was told to report back in the AM.

This cyst was so big that it was now life-threatening and/or risked going blind, as this thing crept toward his eye and on into his brain! This dentist was truly a godsend! He pulled seven teeth, lanced and drained the cyst, stitched him all up, gave him some scripts for pain and plenty of gauze and an appt. for a follow up the next day, all for free!

He told us that this was a little known secret, providing free emergency dental work for "Hard Luck" cases. The dentist, by the way, is affiliated with the hospital.

Well we were truly, so grateful for all this but truly, how bad off must someone be to get some help?

Some decent dental insurance from our government. Is this what they have to go through? Do their children go through this? No, I think not, nor would we ever, ever want them to. I must stop now. Good luck to you.

By anon80743 — On Apr 28, 2010

I suppose that it's OK for the government who is making these "rules" about less or no dental care provided for us by medicaid, medicare etc.

I guess they think we should all look like toothless, decayed and ill idiots in the United States of America. I can only guess that with Obama's new health plan that having dental care was and is mnot even factored in for us. So, don't smile America, we already look bad enough.

By anon70002 — On Mar 11, 2010

i have so many need to be taken care of at the dentist and i have to pay a lot of money to have them taken care of because medicaid will not pay for it. i think it is bull crap. people who can't afford dental work need medicaid to help, but they cut us off of practically everything. how is it helping us when they took the most of the dental away from us. some of us need it.

By anon57663 — On Dec 25, 2009

ntimmy4u2 this is me and i found a local dental doctor and found there are several in bristol, va. that accept va. medicaid for emergency only. my dentist said i had seven teeth that needed to be emergency extracted and i had to pay nothing. medicaid paid it through the smiles program according to the dentist, so all seven teeth are gone now and i have several needs filled but i must pay for them, they said.

By anon45876 — On Sep 21, 2009

I think you are discovering that government run care doesn't work. A knowledge of history would tell you that socialism and communism result in lines for medical care and bread respectively. Your best option if you are suffering is to find a free clinic or compassionate dentist. Many large churches fund clinics. Most dental schools in your state should have a list of free clinics. I have volunteered at a few and found that they provide excellent care. Charities will be far better to depend on than government. Even in states that do have dental care, few dentists accept Medicaid pay because the paperwork is horribly cumbersome and payment from the government is poor and often late. These programs are inefficiently managed and discourage dentists from participating. If you are healthy enough to volunteer at one of these clinics, that would be a great way for you to give back if you can't pay for services. Hopefully this was helpful! Brandon- dental student.

By anon40730 — On Aug 10, 2009

Imagine going to a doctor with a broken arm and rather than giving you a cast, the only thing he or she will do is amputate your arm. Imagine having a treatable problem of ant body part and instead of treatment, you were offered removal of the organ.

If you can imagine this, you will know how it feels to be poor or on medicaid and in need of a dentist.

A cavity? Medicaid authorizes "extraction." Root canal, periodontal problem, cracked tooth, lost cap? Extraction. We live in a brutal society.

By anon36956 — On Jul 15, 2009

I am fortunate enough to live in Kentucky which has much more extensive dental care covered by Medicare. I don't know if it is feasible for you to move here, but also talk to you case worker and ask if they have a spin down program which is on a sliding scale based on your income after your bills and everything have been deducted. Also, some dental colleges will do work for greatly reduced price so they can get experience (these are final year students, so they know what they are doing). Good luck! I know how painful dental problems are and how badly they can affect your overall health.

By ntimmy4u2 — On Mar 20, 2009

Look I live on disability and have full coverage. Virginia medicaid and full medicare, but they both tell me they do not cover any type of dental even in an emergency. My teeth, several need to be pulled and I have like four of my teeth broken down in my gums and I've been having a lot of extreme pain and swelling of my gums and nothing can make it better accept getting those cut out by dental surgery. I am in very bad shape and need some major work done on my teeth and can't get any help and don't understand why medicare or medicaid neither one will help me before it gets worse and cause my blood to poison or something and I could die.

Please anyone can you find out anything about Virginia medicaid or medicare? Maybe a way to get some kind of special approval for emergency care dental help? Until then I just keep suffering. I thank you all for all advice and support in finding me some help.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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