Smile pretty: How to find dental care on a budget

I used to have twice-yearly teeth cleanings when I had a full-time job with great health benefits. Now that I'm self-employed with a not-as-great healthcare plan, dental insurance is an unaffordable luxury right now. I've postponed the $125 cleaning this year as other bills are more pressing, but my teeth are really looking worse for wear -- and then there's that crown my dentist tells me I can't put off getting for much longer.

Luckily, writers from the New York Timesand The Los Angeles Times recently wrote how-to guides for getting dental care on a dime. A few good tips:

  • Dental schools and dental-hygiene schools: Many offer cheaper, or free dental care as students will be the ones with their hands in your mouth (with an experienced professor standing over them). They also offer free community clinics and dental vans. To find the nearest school of dentistry or dental hygiene to you, call your state dental society or association. The American Dental Association keeps a list of dental schools, and the American Dental Hygienists' does the same for dental hygiene schools.