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Dear Dr. Hall, I am a 50 year old female. I am a recent breast cancer survivor. My mouth and my smile are in horrible conditions. I have 14 and a half teeth left; seven of them are in okay condition; in one, the nerve is exposed and on top of all of this, I have brackets on seven of them from when I had braces over 20 years ago. My mouth is in pain constantly. I am in the low income bracket and am currently unemployed. I cannot afford a simple cleaning so years have passed without being able to see a dentist. I stopped smiling a long time ago and find myself becoming a hermit inside my home. I hate being out in public and avoid any type of family gatherings. Is there anyone out there that can help me? I am so tired of living like this. Thank you for your help.
– Denise from Louisiana
There are charitable clinics in many places that offer low-cost and even free dental care, though it may be tricky to find them. If you’re willing to invest some time, you can probably find one. Though keep your expectations low for the care you could get there. You could get cavities filled. Infected teeth could get extracted. You could definitely get your orthodontic brackets removed – that’s a fairly simple procedure. Don’t expect crowns or implants or anything fancy. You could maybe get a simple flipper partial replacing missing teeth.
Here are some ideas for finding a clinic like this. A simple search on Google for “free dentistry” probably wouldn’t work because these clinics generally depend on word-of-mouth for publicity and I’d be surprised if any of them had websites.
1. Try to track down a local dental society (name of your town with “dental society” in Google) and ask them.
2. If there is a dental school nearby, they may know. Some of these clinics end up getting staffed by dental students who are looking for additional experience.
3. Just look up websites of local dentists and read the doctor biography on each one. If the biography mentions that the dentist is involved in charitable work, that could be a clue that the dentist knows of one of these clinics, so call the office and ask what they know.
4. Contact other local charities and ask them. These charitable clinics will sometimes be fed by referral from other charities.
In addition, some dentists will set aside one day a year when they will do free dentistry to anyone who comes. This is done from a mix of charitable instincts and a desire for good publicity. You can find some of these dentists by going to the website of the national organization Dentists with a Heart or doing a search on “dentists with a heart” in your community. Other dentists doing similar things may operate under different names.
Keep asking around locally. I hope this works out for you, and I wish you well.
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