Grants for Braces Help Kids Get New Smiles

| August 23, 2013 | 41 Comments

Grants For BracesGetting braces can be a rather expensive and time-consuming process. Improving your smile can cost on average around $5,000 and typically requires a two-year treatment plan. Orthodontic care is rarely covered by most dental insurance coverage. This causes many to seek out grants to pay for braces. There is in fact a rather exceptional program for children that does just that. But for the rest of us, there isn’t much help available.

If you are interested in having braces because of cosmetic reasons, understand that it will be very hard to find any assistance for that. But if you have a serious medical condition that braces can be used to correct, you might be able to have that covered by insurance. If you are just looking to straighten out your smile, you might want to look into lower cost orthodontic care offered at some dental school clinics operated by university programs across the United States.

Smiles Change Lives
This program was started by a woman who was made fun of as a child about her smile, eventually getting braces late in High School. The foundation was created in 1997 to help children from low-income families get the help they deserve to avoid that sort of teasing. Over the years, Smiles Change Lives has provided this service to more than 5,000 kids. The program is currently offered in every single state through a network of over 700 volunteer orthodontists.

There is a $30 application fee, so make sure that your child is eligible before you apply. SCL offers this service to children from age 10-18. You must have a referral from a dentist as part of the application process. And your income must be determined to be at 200% of the federal poverty guideline or lower to receive assistance. Those selected do have to pay a $600 fee for treatment. But the vast majority of the normal cost to receive orthodontic care is covered by the grant.

If you are an orthodontist interested in volunteering your services through Smiles Change Lives, they are always looking to expand. Almost everything is handled for you by the program and you decide how many cases you are willing to handle through your practice each year. If you have any questions about becoming an SCL provider, email Alexis Barclay at

Free dental clinics offer help in 30 states through a Mission of Mercy.

Medicaid EPSDT
Medicaid is a federally mandated benefits program that operates locally in all 50 states. It provides access to health care for those with low-income including minor children, pregnant women, blind and disabled and seniors 65 years or older. Under its Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment benefit or EPSDT, Medicaid regulates to states what services must be provided to children under 21. While it is not possible to receive braces for cosmetic reasons, dental coverage through EPSDT must offer services that relieve pain and infections and provide restoration and maintenance of dental health. If your child’s condition is considered bad enough that there is a serious medical reason for orthodontics, braces may then be covered under the program. While this is somewhat of a long shot, if you are eligible for Medicaid and have that medical basis for seeking treatment, you should look further into dental care offered locally by the program. Finding out where to apply for Medicaid in your state is easy. Select your state on this interactive map to find out how to reach the Medicaid office in your particular state.

Dental Schools in the United States
While they do not offer free treatment, if you have trouble finding the help you need to pay for braces or any other dental problem, consider seeking treatment through a dental school clinic. Most major dental programs offer these clinics, providing dental care at highly reduced rates. Care is provided by students serving out residencies and supervised by doctors and faculty members, but this in no way means that the care available is sub par. In fact, often these schools use the newest treatment methods available in the profession. Be aware that seeking care through a university clinic can take a bit longer than what you would see through a normal dental practice. And services may not be available the entire year. But if you don’t have dental coverage and can’t afford to visit a normal practice, this is a great resource that can provide you suitable care. Contact your local dental school directly to find out if it runs a clinic and how to become a patient there.

State Dental Association Free Dental Clinics
While you won’t be able to get braces through this program, in 30 or so states across the U.S. you can in fact get plenty of dental work done through a growing list of Mission of Mercy or MoM events. My mother recently volunteered at the first such event held here in South Carolina at her church and it was a great success. Find out if you have an active dental association clinic coming up in your area. Dentists and hygienists donate their time and see patients for everything from regular cleanings to crown and bridge work. Many states are just now offering their first such clinics this year. Look up your state’s dental association to find out if they are involved in this awesome movement that is helping folks just like you from coast to coast. If they aren’t, ask them why. Be aware that some state associations offer additional programs, like the donated dental services of the Dental Lifeline program, as well. This program allows you to see a local dentist and receive donated work. You must have low-income and have a serious dental situation going on for that program. But if this describes you, check into DDS immediately to find out where to apply in your area.

Get free dentures through these grants that will make you smile.

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Category: Medical Grants, Other Grant Information, Personal Grants

About the Author ()

Kipp is the Contributing Editor for, covering sources of potential funding in the world of grants. His mission is to assist people like you by locating and sharing private, non-profit and government grants. Got a question or a tip on a neat grant? Connect with him now at Facebook Twitter

Comments (41)

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  1. Angela Crockett says:

    Hi.. Can you tell me if there are any programs to help if I already have an orthodontist for my son and we have already began the braces process. Thank you

  2. Ciera says:

    Hi my name is Corral and I have to pay a $600 down payment just to get braces and my parents don’t have the money. Does anyone know what I can do to get help with paying for braces.

  3. Sarah says:

    Hi my name is Sarah and I’m 17 years old. As I’m growing and starting to apply for jobs and colleges I often feel nervous because of the way my teeth look. This has lowered my self esteem in public speaking and speaking to higher authorities. Where can I find out about braces for a cheaper cause or free. I cannot afford them only my mom and I have jobs and it’s tough.

  4. Dpeil says:

    I am trying to obtain braces for my 2 grandsons, one 14 yr. old grandson is the child of a very deadbeat dad and the other grandson is the 11 yr old son of a hardworking very good father who unfortunately cannot afford the braces. Can someone please provide me with any information as to where they can go for help?

  5. April Thompson says:

    I need help, my child needs braces and I cant afford them. Her mouth is so bad that her upper and lower mouth is not lining up properly. The quotes for the work is around $59,000.

  6. Betty Norada says:

    I am trying to get help for braces for my 14 year old, she was told she needed braces a year ago but I am struggling to the point of only having $10.00 left for gas after paying my mortgage, car and all my other bills and food to survive. Is there anyone who helps with braces. She is really feeling insecure and I even talked to her orthodontist and they can’t help. Thank You, Betty Norada

  7. Esteban Veyna says:

    Hi. I was wondering if you can send me any info on affordable braces. My 10 yr old daughter needs braces. Her upper jaw doesn’t line up with the bottom. Her two front teeth stick out. She has speech therapy cause of this. This causes her to have low self esteem and be very shy. I do work but California is so expensive. Everything goes to rent, bills and food.

    • Kipp Shives says:

      Hi, Esteban. Depending on your income, you are probably in luck. Smiles Change Lives works exclusively with 10-18 year old children from low to mid income families who have medical problems associated with their bites. It was founded by a woman who had self-esteem issues as a child because she needed braces. They do charge a $30 application fee and the braces will cost a copay of $600 if you’re accepted, but that’s the best thing I have ever seen in terms of low cost braces. Here is their application page.

  8. Kimberly Dillard says:

    I have two children that are in the need of braces. I cant afford to start on either kids. What can I do I am a single parent?

  9. Lena Wyss says:

    My 15yr old has been told by Dr. David Brown of Children’s Dentistry of Wichita. The dentist told her she would need braces, & I’m a widow doing the best I can to help her get the braces. If your office could please get In touch with me at the following information Lena Wyss @316-409-2830.
    Thank you

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