Access to dental care is important for overall health and well-being. However, the costs associated with dental work can be prohibitively expensive for many individuals and families. Thankfully, there are organizations that provide dental grants to help cover these expenses for those in financial need. This article will explore the different dental grants available in Arkansas for 2024 and provide information on eligibility and how to apply.
Types of Dental Grants in Arkansas
There are a few main types of dental grants available to residents of Arkansas:
- Medicaid and CHIP
Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are government-funded programs that provide free or low-cost health and dental coverage for qualifying low-income individuals and families. In Arkansas, Medicaid is administered by the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS).
To be eligible for Medicaid in Arkansas, you must be a resident of the state and meet certain income limits. CHIP has higher income limits than traditional Medicaid. Medicaid and CHIP plans cover dental cleanings, fillings, extractions, and more at no cost to the beneficiary.
- Grants from Non-Profit Organizations
There are also non-profit organizations in Arkansas that offer dental grants or funding for dental procedures to those in financial need. Some examples include:
- Arkansas Community Foundation: Provides grants to community organizations that assist with dental care access.
- Arkansas Mission of Mercy (ArMOM): Hosts free, two-day dental clinics providing cleanings, fillings, extractions, and more.
- Dentistry For All: Partners with local dentists to provide reduced-cost care.
- Arkansas Free Dental Clinic: Offers free dental care through volunteer dentists and hygienists.
- Charitable Care from Dental Schools
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Dental Medicine and other dental schools in the state sometimes offer reduced-cost dental services to qualifying patients, provided by students under faculty supervision.
- Dental Discounts and Payment Plans
Many dentists work with patients in financial need by offering discounts or setting up interest-free payment plans. Ask your dentist if they offer assistance programs.
Eligibility Requirements for Dental Grants
Each grant or assistance program has its own eligibility criteria that applicants must meet. Some common requirements include:
- Being a resident of Arkansas
- Having a household income below a certain level
- Being uninsured or underinsured
- Meeting age requirements (for example, most children’s grants are for those 18 and under)
- Having a demonstrated financial need
Priority is usually given to children, seniors, pregnant women, veterans, homeless individuals, survivors of domestic violence, and those with disabilities.
Exact income thresholds and eligibility guidelines vary by program so be sure to check with each organization.
How to Apply for Dental Grants in Arkansas
Applying for dental grants takes some research and legwork but is worth it for the savings. Here are some steps to take:
- Identify programs to apply to based on your needs, age, income level, and location using the resources mentioned in this article.
- Check eligibility for each program and gather required documentation (ID, income verification, dental records, etc.)
- Complete applications thoroughly and submit them per the instructions by program deadlines. Many now allow online or downloadable applications.
- Provide supplemental documents requested, like income statements, dental x-rays, or treatment plans.
- Interview with program providers if required.
- Reapply annually for ongoing coverage through grants like Medicaid.
You may need to apply to multiple programs before being approved. Having all your paperwork ready and following up diligently will help get your applications processed efficiently.
Dental Grants in Arkansas by City
Dental grant availability can also vary based on your location within Arkansas. Here are some of the main resources and programs in major cities across the state:
- UAMS College of Dental Medicine
- Arkansas Community Foundation grants
- Arkansas Free Dental Clinic
- Christus Health Clinic
- Community Dental Clinic
- Arkansas Mission of Mercy (ArMOM) events
- Sebastian County Dental Society
- Fayetteville Free Dental Clinic
- Northwest Arkansas Free Health Center
- University of Arkansas Dental Hygiene Program
- Agape Clinic
- Arkansas State University Dental Hygiene Clinic
- Arkansas Mission of Mercy (ArMOM) events
- Community Health Centers of Arkansas
- Pine Bluff Free Dental Clinic
- UAMS East Arkansas Family Health Center
Check for clinics, health centers, hospitals, and churches in your area that offer dental services on an income-based sliding scale or for free.
Top Arkansas Foundations Offering Dental Grants
Beyond government programs and health centers, there are many foundations and non-profits in Arkansas that offer dental grants or funding:
- Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation – Offers grants to organizations improving oral health access.
- Arkansas Community Foundation – Supports programs providing dental care across the state.
- Walmart Foundation – Funds dental services through grants to clinics and charities.
- Conway Regional Health Foundation – Provides grants to improve dental care access.
- Washington Regional Medical Foundation – Offers funding to programs serving uninsured patients.
- Blue and You Foundation – Grants money to increase dental care access across Arkansas.
- Arkansas Children’s Foundation – Supports dental care for children in financial need.
- The CDI Foundation – Funds dental clinics and services in underserved areas.
- The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation – Grants to improve community health, including dental.
Applying for Free Dental Work Through Dentists
Don’t forget to ask your own dentist if they accept Medicaid or offer discounts for patients who pay cash, or have a dental loan program. Many dentists provide charity care or reduced-cost dental work. They may also refer you to free or low-cost dental clinics nearby.
You can also contact local dental societies to ask for dentists in your area who do pro-bono or volunteer work. The Arkansas State Dental Association provides resources to find affordable care options.
Dental Schools Providing Discounted Care
Students and faculty at dental schools often provide dental work at significantly reduced costs while gaining experience. In Arkansas, visiting a dental school clinic is a great option for grants.
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Dental Medicine in Little Rock serves patients at discounted rates. Their services include cleanings, fillings, root canals, crowns, dentures, oral surgery, and more. As the only dental school in Arkansas, they are an excellent resource.
Arkansas State University and the University of Arkansas also have dental hygiene programs that offer cleanings and basic care at low costs. Students perform the work under instructor supervision. Waiting lists can be long, so call and get on the list ASAP if interested.
Hospital Dental Clinics Offering Assistance
Many hospitals operate dental clinics providing care on an income-based sliding scale. They offer services at a discount for those who qualify based on income documentation.
Examples include St. Vincent Health Center’s Harmony Dental Clinic in Little Rock, Saline Memorial Hospital Dental Clinic in Benton, and Johnson Regional Medical Center’s Dental Clinic in Clarksville.
Contact hospitals and health systems in your area to find out if they operate dental clinics and if these offer financial assistance programs. Some may also have grants available.
Grants for Senior Dental Care
Seniors face additional barriers to accessing dental care and have higher rates of oral health issues. These programs aim to help older adults in Arkansas get the dental treatment they need:
- AARP Dental Insurance – Offers discounted dental insurance plans to AARP members.
- Arkansas Department of Human Services – Administers Medicaid benefits offering dental coverage for eligible seniors.
- Apple Tree Dental – Provides dental care at senior centers and nursing facilities across Arkansas.
- Generations Dental Center – Serves elderly patients with grants and sliding scale fees.
- Willing Heart Adult Day Care – Hosts free dental care events specifically for seniors.
- Batesville Nurses Clinic – Provides reduced-cost dental services to seniors in need.
Medicare does not cover routine dental care, so these programs are hugely beneficial to seniors needing major dental work they otherwise could not afford.
Grants for Children’s Dental Care
Children who do not get proper dental care early on are at risk for lifelong problems. These programs provide access to pediatric grants and dental services:
- Medicaid and ARKids – Covers dental care for children of eligible low-income families.
- Seal Arkansas – Provides free sealants to prevent cavities in low-income children.
- Healthy Smiles Fund – Offers grants to children for emergency dental needs.
- Arkansas Mission of Mercy (ArMOM) – Hosts free dental clinics for children’s care.
- Educate Kids Arkansas – Organizes free “Dentistry From the Heart” events to serve disadvantaged children.
- Arkansas Children’s Hospital – Has special programs and charity care for kids’ dental needs.
- Pediatric Dental Center of the Delta – Serves children on Medicaid in the Delta region.
- Arkansas Department of Health – Oversees school screenings and fluoride varnish programs to benefit children.
Good dental hygiene and preventive care from a young age help avoid expensive problems later on. These programs aim to ensure all Arkansas kids can access the dental services they need for a healthy smile and life ahead.
Grants for Special Needs Patients
Getting dental treatment can be challenging for patients with intellectual, physical, or behavioral disabilities. These resources aim to break down those barriers in Arkansas:
- Reach Out and Read Arkansas – Provides free dental care and resources for special needs patients.
- Down Syndrome Association of Arkansas – Helps connect members to grants and reduced-cost care.
- Arkansas Disability Coalition – Offers referrals to programs serving patients with disabilities.
- The Arc Arkansas – Advocates and facilitates access to dental services for people with disabilities.
- Arkansas State Dental Association – Helps special needs patients find dentists able to serve them.
- UAMS REGIONAL PROGRAMS – Operates dental clinics assisting patients with disabilities across the state.
Having a dentist adequately trained in caring for special needs patients makes a big difference. Reaching out to organizations that understand your situation is key to finding care.
Veteran and Military Dental Grants
Veterans and active duty military personnel have access to dental benefits that can lower their costs. Options to explore include:
- VA Dental Insurance Program (VADIP) – Offers eligible veterans and families discounted dental insurance.
- VA Dental Services – Provides free or discounted dental care through VA health facilities.
- Active Duty Dental Program – Covers basic dental care for active duty service members.
- TRICARE Dental Program – Low-cost dental coverage for National Guard and reserve members and families.
- Give Back A Smile – Restores dental health for survivors of domestic violence and abuse.
- Heart of a Hero Dental Care – Connects veterans with free or low-cost dentists.
Having VA health coverage makes it easier to utilize VA dental grants and services. Uninsured veterans may also qualify for free care through VA facilities.
Grants for Dental Implants or Dentures
For those needing major tooth replacement procedures like implants or dentures, affording the costs can be extremely difficult. Some options for accessing grants include:
- Medicaid – Covers dentures and certain dental implants and crowns if medically necessary.
- Dental Lifeline Network – Provides free or reduced-cost dentures for qualifying patients.
- Solid Foundation Program – Offers prosthetic implants for those unable to afford implant treatment.
- Special Care Program – Helps cover the costs of dentures for domestic abuse survivors.
- ProBonoDentists.org – Matches low-income patients with dentists providing free or reduced-cost implants.
While still limited, these resources aim to assist patients who need major tooth replacement care and have no other way to afford it.
Free Dental Work Charity Events
Certain dentists and dental organizations in Arkansas host free one or two-day dental clinics offering cleanings, fillings, extractions, and more at no cost to participants.
These “pop-up” charity dental events help meet immediate needs in underserved areas. Finding out when and where they will occur takes some research, but can be worthwhile.
Some examples include:
- Arkansas Mission of Mercy (ArMOM)
- Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinics
- Dentistry From The Heart events
- Give Kids A Smile free children’s dental days
Follow organizations like the Arkansas State Dental Association to find out about upcoming free and charitable dental clinics happening near you.
Dental Tourism for Affordable Care
Dental tourism involves traveling to another country to receive low-cost dental care. For major procedures, the savings on dental work performed abroad can outweigh the travel costs.
Popular destinations for Americans include Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia. Procedures can cost 50-75% less than in the U.S. But be sure to do your research to find accredited dentists and clinics.
While not an option for urgent needs or everyone’s situation, dental tourism is a path some Arkansans pursue to afford expensive dental treatments that would otherwise be out of reach.
Applying for Medical Credit Cards
Major dental work like braces, implants, or dentures often exceeds what people can pay for out of pocket. One option is applying for a dedicated medical credit card. These cards offer 0% deferred or fixed interest financing for medical procedures and expenses.
Providers like CareCredit and LendingClub offer dental-specific credit cards that can help you pay off big dental bills over 12-24 months. Make sure to understand all terms and important info like deferred interest before applying.
Fundraising for Dental Expenses
If you have a significant dental need but do not qualify for enough grants or cannot afford the gap in costs, another option is creating a fundraiser.
Crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe make it simple to share your story, and dental treatment goals, and accept donations from others. Dental fundraising campaigns help cover costs from braces for kids to full mouth reconstruction.
While not guaranteed, fundraising taps into the generosity of friends, family, and even strangers who want to help others in need. Every bit contributed adds up.
Long-Term Solutions to Improve Dental Access
While the above programs help fill immediate dental needs in Arkansas, there are also long-term policy solutions that could really improve access:
- Expanded dental coverage through Medicaid and Medicare
- More funding for free and discounted dental clinics
- Programs to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates, attracting more dentists
- Volunteer incentives and student loan forgiveness for dentists serving uninsured patients
- State-funded dental sealant programs for disadvantaged children
- Continued efforts to fluoridate all drinking water systems statewide
Contacting state and local government representatives to advocate for improved funding of dental services can create meaningful change over time.
Finding a Dentist Who Accepts Medicaid
For those enrolled in Medicaid needing to find a dentist, options include:
- Use the online Dentist Search tool at https://mmis.arkansas.gov to look for dental providers accepting Medicaid near you
- Contact Arkansas Medicaid Member Services at 1-800-482-5431 for assistance finding participating dentists
- Ask your Medicaid insurance plan if they have a list of contracted dentists
- Search directory listings on sites like DentalCarePlus to lookup Medicaid dentists by location
- Use the Arkansas State Dental Association dentist referral service – state you need a Medicaid provider
- Check with Federally Qualified Health Centers and dental clinics providing services on a sliding fee scale
- Don’t hesitate to call dental offices and specifically ask if they accept Medicaid patients
Finding dentists and dental clinics that participate in Medicaid can take persistence, but they are out there. Don’t give up your search if you are initially turned down.
FAQs on Arkansas Dental Grants
What free dental services are available for low-income adults in Arkansas?
Low-income adults may qualify for dental grants and services through Medicaid, community health clinics, non-profit dental clinics, dental schools, and temporary dental charity events.
Where can I get help with dental expenses if I don’t have insurance?
Options include Medicaid, free and reduced-fee dental clinics, grants from foundations and charities, payment plans with dentists, university dental school clinics, and temporary free dental events.
How can I get help for dentures or dental implants?
Medicaid covers dentures and some implants if medically necessary. Otherwise, try assistance programs like the Dental Lifeline Network, or university dental clinics, ask your dentist for payment plans, or apply for medical credit cards.
Are there any grants to help cover Invisalign or braces costs for a child?
Unfortunately grants for cosmetic braces are limited, but you can search for orthodontic scholarships or discounts, use medical credit financing, or do fundraising for braces costs not covered by insurance.
Where can seniors get help affording dental care in Arkansas?
Seniors can look into resources like the AARP Dental Insurance Program, Medicaid benefits, Apple Tree Dental clinics, Generations Dental Center, Willing Heart Adult Day Care dental events, and Batesville Nurses Clinic.
Are there any dental clinics that offer free services for children?
Yes, options for children’s dental grants and care include Medicaid and ARKids programs, UAMS clinics, Seal Arkansas, Healthy Smiles Fund, Arkansas Mission of Mercy events, Educate Kids Arkansas clinics and Arkansas Children’s Hospital assistance programs.
Closing Thoughts on Accessing Dental Grants
The costs of maintaining oral health shouldn’t be a barrier to care. Thankfully, a range of options exist to access free or reduced-cost dental services. Medicaid, CHIP, non-profit clinics, dental schools, health centers, charity dental events, and more all provide pathways to grants, discounts, and aid.
Doing your research, checking eligibility, gathering paperwork, and applying broadly will help increase your chances of successfully getting approved for programs to ease your dental expenses. With persistence and utilizing all possible resources, Arkansans in need can find ways to access grants and affordable care.
While challenges remain, we must continue advocating to policymakers on expanding publicly funded dental benefits. Contacting elected officials and supporting organizations working to improve access can create positive change over time.
Oral health is integral to overall wellness. Seeking out grants and assistance programs makes important dental care possible for underserved residents across Arkansas. A healthy smile and pain-free ability to chew provide a foundation for confidence and quality of life. With the right help, dental grants can make that a reality.
Mustafa Al Mahmud is the Founder of Quick Medico and also a professional Blogger, SEO Professional as well as Entrepreneur. He loves to travel and enjoy his free moment with family members and friends.