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The Elder Dental Program

If you or a loved one is seeking oral health care at rates that are more affordable, the Elder Dental Program may be able to help. We are a community-based, non-profit program dedicated to helping low-income, area adults, age 60 and older, to access quality dental care at greatly reduced costs.

The Elder Dental Program relies on a network of local dentists who volunteer to treat low-income older adults at significantly reduced fees. The Elder Dental Program advocates for greater access to quality, affordable oral healthcare for individuals of all ages.

We sponsor Free Dental Screening Clinics for anyone age 60 or over (regardless of financial status), and host these screening events throughout our Elder Dental Program service area.

For more information about the Elder Dental Program and to learn whether you qualify financially, based on income and savings, contact Christina Dugan, Program Manager at 774.203.1326 or elderdental@communityvna.com

Am I Eligible?

The Elder Dental Program serves low-income adults, age 60 and older, who do not have dental insurance. Anyone may qualify for the program if they:

  • Are age 60 or over
  • Do not have dental insurance
  • Live in our program service area *
  • Have an annual income less than $29,175 ($39,325 for a couple)
  • Have savings less than $23,048 ($45,680 for a couple)

* Our current service area includes the greater Bristol County and lower Norfolk County (Massachusetts).

Program Services

The Elder Dental Program, in partnership with a local volunteer dentists and specialists, offer a wide range of services including:

  • Diagnosis
  • Cleanings
  • Fillings
  • Root canals, and
  • Extractions

How the Program Works

In order to participate in the Elder Dental Program, you must complete an application [PDF, 90KB], including basic information about your income and savings.

Once your financial eligibility is determined, the Program Manager will consult with you to match you with a conveniently located, local dentist.

The Program Manager will also help schedule your first appointment. Payment for services is due at the time of the visit; fees are based on the Program’s discounted sliding scale, determined by your financial status. We explain ahead of time what your fee will be, so there are no surprises.

Participating dentists treat patients in their own dental offices during regular office hours, and charge each patient a reduced fee based on the Program’s sliding scale. Payment is due at time of service.

Currently, we are not able to provide services that involve dental lab work such as new dentures, partials and crowns. Patients needing these services will be referred to Dental Schools for dentures and similar restorative work.

Free Dental Clinics

The Elder Dental Program holds Free Dental Screening Clinics each fall and the spring.

These Screening Clinics are open (at no charge) to any adult, age 60 or older, regardless of financial status. Pre-registration for these free screenings is required.

At the free screening clinics, dentists examine patients for problems with their teeth, gums, and dentures. Patients can ask questions and discuss any concerns directly with the dentist. You will also be screened for oral cancer and have an opportunity to have dentures professionally cleaned and labeled, all at no cost to you.

Dental hygienists & dental hygiene students will be on hand to discuss any oral health concerns and demonstrate proper technique in taking care of teeth and dentures. A nutritionist will discuss the role of nutrition in oral health and offer advice regarding chewing problems, dry mouth, potential medication interactions and other concerns.

Volunteer Your Dental Services

The Elder Dental Program was created in 2002 to serve low income senior adults. It is a success today due to the caring dentists and oral health specialists who volunteer their time and skills to help patients in need. Limited grant funding and charitable gifts help cover the administrative costs to manage and sustain this Program. Today, the average patient served through our program is a 75 year old widow, struggling to live on an income that’s below the federal poverty guidelines.
Learn what the Fall 2008 Journal of the Massachusetts Dental Society said in a spotlight story about the Elder Dental Program. [Elder Dental MDS Journal]

If you would like to assist by becoming a participating volunteer dentist in the Elder Dental Program, here are five important facts you may like to know:

  1. You can determine the number of patient referrals you accept through the program. Tell us the number in advance or play it by ear, month to month. Before setting up a first-time appointment for a new patient, our program manager will first check with your office to see if you are able to take a new patient at that time. The program manager makes all first appointments so that she is able to control the flow of patients to you, per your wishes.
  2. The Program’s pre-approved fee schedule determines the fee each patient pays. When the program manager sets up a patient’s first appointment, she will tell you the patient’s discount category, based on the patient’s verified income and savings. Services such as new dentures, crowns, and cosmetic work are not included under this program. Patients in need of these services at a discount may be referred back to the program manager who will provide them with details on accessing such services through Dental School programs.
  3. For dentists, there’s virtually no paperwork! Since these patients do not have dental insurance or qualify for government programs (these are the low income folks who are falling through the cracks), there are no insurance reimbursement forms to complete and submit. What the patient pays (based on the sliding scale) is the only payment you receive. Patients are instructed to pay at the time of the visit, to eliminate any need to bill them. We do ask that you or your staff complete and fax us a very brief “patient encounter form” for our Program records.
  4. You treat Elder Dental Program patients in your own office. There is no need to go to a special clinic or work with unfamiliar staff and setup. You can be confident that under the Elder Dental Program, patients referred to you are in true financial need, because the program manager has verified their low income and savings to determine their eligibility and where on the discounted sliding scale they fall.
  5. You have backup. The program manager is available to help you with your Elder Dental Program patients. If any concerns arise with the patient, if your staff has questions about the program, or if you need to refer a patient for more care, the program manager is there to help and make sure things run smoothly for you and your staff.