Access to dental care is extremely important for overall health and well-being. However, dental care can be very expensive, putting it out of reach for many low-income individuals and families in South Carolina. Thankfully, some organizations provide dental grants to help cover the costs of checkups, cleanings, fillings, extractions, dentures, and more.
If you are a South Carolina resident in need of financial assistance for dental services, this guide covers various grant programs you may qualify for in 2024. We will explain eligibility requirements, how to apply, and provide contact information for each grant program.
Overview of Dental Grants in South Carolina
South Carolina provides dental grants primarily through government organizations, non-profits, and private foundations. Some of the main programs include:
- Medicaid Dental Program: Provides dental benefits to children and adults enrolled in Medicaid and Medicaid expansion programs. Covers services like cleanings, x-rays, fillings, extractions, and dentures.
- Federally Qualified Health Center Dental Grants: Federally funded grants that support affordable dental care through community health centers. Offer sliding fee discounts based on income.
- UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation Grants: Grants to cover dental care costs for children in financial need who are uninsured or underinsured. Awards up to $5,000.
- Dental Lifeline Network South Carolina: Provides access to dental care for people who are elderly, have disabilities, or are medically fragile. Volunteer dentists donate their services.
- Arbella Insurance Foundation Grants: Funds donated to community health centers to improve access to dental care for uninsured and underserved residents.
- Delta Dental of South Carolina Foundation Grants: Grants given to organizations for oral health programs providing dental care access to uninsured and disadvantaged populations.
Eligibility requirements and application processes vary by program. But generally, these dental grants are available to South Carolina residents who:
- Have low incomes (often below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level)
- Do not have dental insurance
- Cannot afford regular dental care costs
- Have disabilities or special medical needs
Next, let’s look at how to apply for the major dental grant programs in South Carolina.
Applying for Medicaid Dental Benefits
The South Carolina Medicaid Dental Program provides dental coverage for children and adults enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Services covered include cleanings, x-rays, fillings, tooth extractions, dentures and more.
To qualify for Medicaid dental benefits in South Carolina, you must:
- Be a resident of South Carolina
- Meet income limits for your household size (at or below 209% of the Federal Poverty Level for parents/caretakers, 138% for adults without dependents)
- Be a U.S. national, citizen, legal alien, or lawfully present immigrant
- Apply for and be approved for Medicaid
Children can get full Medicaid benefits with higher income eligibility limits than adults. Pregnant women and residents who are aged, blind, or disabled also have more relaxed income limits.
To apply, you can submit a Medicaid application online through SCDHHS, use the federal healthcare Marketplace, visit your county Medicaid eligibility office, or call South Carolina Healthy Connections at 1-888-549-0820.
If approved, your Medicaid dental benefits will cover services provided by dentists enrolled in the SC Medicaid program. Be sure to ask dentists upfront if they accept Medicaid patients. You may be responsible for small copays for some services.
Seeking Care at Federally Qualified Health Centers
Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)– also known as community health centers – provide affordable primary and preventive care to underserved areas across South Carolina. Most offer dental services on a sliding fee scale based on your income.
Over 30 FQHC organizations are operating more than 160 individual clinic sites in South Carolina. Dental services offered at FQHCs can include:
- Checkups and X-rays
- Tooth extractions
- Fillings and crowns
- Root canals
- Dentures and bridges
- Dental hygiene visits for cleanings
To receive discounted dental care at an FQHC in South Carolina, you must book an appointment at the clinic and provide household income information. Uninsured patients whose incomes fall below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level can access free or very low-cost dental care.
Use the HRSA health center search tool to find FQHCs with dental clinics in your area. Look for listings with “Dental” under “Services Offered.”
Applying for UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation Grants
The UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (UHCCF) provides medical and dental grants to help children gain access to health services not covered or not fully covered by their commercial health insurance plan.
To qualify for up to $5,000 in UHCCF dental grants, children must:
- Be 16 years old or younger
- Have medical and dental coverage through a commercial health insurance plan
- Have expenses not covered by insurance that the family cannot afford (often due to deductibles, coinsurance, and copays)
- Meet income eligibility limits – family income must be at or below 400% of the Federal Poverty Level
- Be receiving services in the United States
The child’s legal guardian can submit a UHCCF medical or dental grant application online. UHCCF requires supporting documentation like proof of income, doctor’s treatment plans/cost estimates, and an explanation of insurance benefits.
Grant funds are paid directly to the healthcare provider like a dentist’s office. Grants can be used for services like dental exams, x-rays, cleanings, fillings, crowns, and other treatments within the calendar year.
Using Dental Lifeline Network Services
The non-profit Dental Lifeline Network South Carolina connects vulnerable people with volunteer dentists to receive donated dental care. It focuses on helping people who:
- Have permanent disabilities or are elderly or medically fragile
- Are severely in need of dental care but cannot afford treatment
- Do not qualify for public assistance programs
The application process involves:
- Call (866) 370-9531 to request an application packet.
- When approved, you’ll be matched with a volunteer dentist.
- The dentist donates their services to provide your needed dental treatment.
Examples of free dental care that can be accessed through the Dental Lifeline Network include:
- Tooth extractions
- Dental surgery
- Emergency dental care
This program allows vulnerable South Carolina residents to get comprehensive dental treatment they otherwise could not afford or access.
Arbella Insurance Foundation Dental Grants
The Arbella Insurance Foundation donates to charitable organizations across New England and South Carolina. A focus is making grants to community health centers to provide access to affordable dental care.
For example, the Arbella Foundation has given grants to the Beaufort Jasper Hampton Comprehensive Health Services community health center to expand access to dental care for low-income, uninsured residents in their service areas.
Free clinics and other community health organizations in South Carolina can apply for Arbella Foundation grants to fund programs increasing dental care access, education, and prevention. Grant requests are reviewed annually.
The application and grant proposal requirements are available on the Arbella Insurance Foundation website.
Applying for Delta Dental of South Carolina Foundation Grants
The Delta Dental of South Carolina Foundation is a nonprofit organization affiliated with Delta Dental focused on improving oral health. They award grants up to $30,000 to organizations in South Carolina that provide:
- Access to dental care for uninsured and underserved populations
- Oral health education and prevention programs
Past grantees include federally qualified health centers, free medical clinics, schools, and programs caring for people with developmental disabilities. The grants can cover dental treatment costs as well as education and outreach efforts.
Nonprofit organizations interested in applying for a Delta Dental South Carolina Foundation grant should review the eligibility and requirements. The foundation accepts grant applications during specific cycles – usually once per year.
Additional Dental Assistance Resources in South Carolina
If you do not qualify for the major dental grant programs above, here are some additional resources that may provide help affording dental care:
- Aiken Bridge Health Clinic: Provides discounted dental services to uninsured residents of Aiken County. Call (803) 641-0198 for information.
- CareSouth Carolina: Offers a prescription assistance program that can help with saving money on prescribed medications required for dental procedures.
- East Cooper Community Outreach (ECCO): Provides some grant funds and discounted dental care through the Izzie Reveal Dental Clinic for residents of Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties. Call (843) 276-5504.
- Francis Marion University Dental Hygiene Clinic: Offers discounted dental cleanings and x-rays to adults and children at the FMU Dental Health Center in Florence, SC. Fees are about 30-50% less than private dental offices. Call (843) 661-1532.
- New Hope Free Medical Clinic: Provides access to low-cost dental care, cleanings, and extractions for qualified uninsured residents of York County, SC. Call (803) 329-3999.
- Sharing God’s Love: Operates a dental clinic in Hartsville, SC open 1-2 days per month providing free care to uninsured residents with proof of income. Call (843) 383-4030.
- Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System: Offers a 100% discount on hospital bills for uninsured patients receiving emergency dental care who are at/below 250% of the federal poverty level. Apply at (864) 560-4250.
- Thornwell Home for Children: Provides dental care access for children in foster care who don’t have Medicaid benefits in Clinton, SC. Call (864) 938-2100.
- Tri-county Health Network: Serves Greenwood, Laurens, and McCormick County residents who are low-income and uninsured. Limited dental care is available. Call (855) 487-4816.
Tips for Affording Dental Care Costs
If you still struggle to pay for dental care after exploring grants, here are some additional tips:
- Compare pricing. Get cost estimates from at least 3 dentists before choosing one. Dental fees can vary greatly between providers.
- Ask about discounts. Many dentists offer a cash-pay discount if you pay the entire cost without billing insurance.
- Inquire about financing. Many dental providers offer no-interest or low-interest payment plans that allow you to spread costs out with monthly payments.
- Prioritize needs. Get cleanings and non-urgent work done first before procedures like bridges and root canals. Go for tooth extractions over root canals and crowns if possible.
- Use dental schools. Dental students can perform procedures at a discounted rate under instructor supervision. The Medical University of South Carolina offers this.
- Travel abroad. Major dental procedures often cost 60-70% less in countries like Costa Rica, Mexico, Spain, and Thailand. The savings on expensive work like crowns and implants can make travel costs worthwhile.
- Live a dental-healthy lifestyle. Eat less sugary and acidic foods, avoid smoking, and practice good oral hygiene to prevent costly dental issues.
Frequently Asked Questions About SC Dental Grants
Who qualifies for Medicaid dental benefits in South Carolina?
South Carolina Medicaid provides dental coverage for qualifying children, pregnant women, parents & caretakers, seniors, and people who are blind or disabled. You must be a SC resident and meet income limits based on your family size and household income.
What dental services are covered by SC Medicaid?
Covered services include exams, x-rays, cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, root canals, crowns, and dentures. Some services require authorization and extras like sedation may not be covered. There are no copays for children but adults may have small copays.
How do I apply for SC dental grants from UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation?
You can submit an online application through www.uhccf.org for a child age 16 or under needing dental care not fully covered by health insurance. Annual household income must be at or below 400% of the Federal Poverty Level to qualify.
What qualifications are needed to get dental treatment through the Dental Lifeline Network?
This program assists people who have permanent disabilities or debilitating illnesses, are elderly or medically fragile, and are in severe dental need but unable to afford treatment or qualify for public assistance.
How can my community health center get dental grants from the Delta Dental SC Foundation?
501(c)3 nonprofits can apply for the Delta Dental grants during application cycles, usually once annually. The grants support programs providing dental care access and oral health education to uninsured and disadvantaged populations.
Who offers discounted dental services in South Carolina?
Some options for lower-cost dental care include FQHC community clinics, dental schools, university dental hygiene programs, free health clinics, hospital systems, and non-profit dental care programs. Many dentists also provide discounts for patients paying cash without insurance.
Difficulty paying for dental care shouldn’t mean suffering from tooth decay, gum disease, and poor oral health. South Carolina offers several grants and resources to help underserved residents access affordable dental services.
Medicaid provides dental coverage for qualifying low-income children and adults. Grants are available from charitable foundations and non-profits to help cover dental costs for vulnerable groups. And clinics like FQHCs give discounts on a sliding fee scale.
If you are uninsured or underinsured and struggling with the costs of dental treatment in South Carolina, don’t hesitate to explore these grant and assistance programs. Your oral health is critically important to your overall well-being. A bright healthy smile and pain-free functioning are possible, even on a budget.
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.