Your tooth hurts but your budget is already blown. How are you going to pay for expensive dental care like a root canal?
Your state or county health department likely has dental services available but with all the budget cutting going on these days, free or low cost options will be even harder to find than they had been when the economy was stronger.
If you are lucky enough to live near a college or university that has a dental school, you’ll have a better chance of getting a root canal at a lower cost. Students enrolled in these dental programs need to practice on real people and you can count on the oversight of the faculty to ensure the quality of work. Often these programs are coordinated with the county health department.
With a combination of luck and determination you might find a free dental fair in your area. Just this past January, 1,638 patients were treated over the course of a two-day dental clinic at the Kansas State Fairgrounds. According to The Hutchinson (KS) News, over a million dollars in dental services were provided to needy Kansans, including the extraction of more than four thousand teeth. If you can locate such an event, do your best to get there early to improve your chances of getting in.
If you don’t live near a dental school or a free dental fair, you may have to try negotiation. Ask your dentist’s office if they offer any special rates for people who don’t have insurance. For an expensive procedure like a root canal, they might arrange a payment schedule but will probably ask for a fairly substantial down payment. You shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t offer payment plans for new patients though, since you would have little incentive to keep the payments up once the work is done. But if you’ve been going to that practice for years, they may be more likely to trust you.
Do you have something to trade? If you have some product or service that the dentist can use, you might be able to barter. Can you paint his home or mow his lawn? Shampoo her carpets? Do you have a way to help the dentist get more patients? Of course, if you can deliver new patients, the dentist would prefer the kind that can pay in cash.