Many California residents who are recently out of work may now be relying upon Medi-Cal for medical benefits. In other states, unemployed or fixed income retirees who have little means may use similar programs such as state Medicaid services. Generally, Medi-Cal and Medicaid does not cover dental services for adult patients. , children are able to receive necessary preventative care services and treatment of cavities (although cosmetic dentistry services such as braces or orthodontics would usually not be included). At one time, California adults had access to a program called “Denti-Cal.” Denti Cal was phased out for individuals over the age of 21 in 2010.
There ARE some dental services that are covered by Medicaid. Generally, these are services that would be considered to fall under medical services. In other words if the patient has a complex problem where the impact of their dental needs is impacting their health to the point of reaching medical service, then the state may pay for the service. For example, if a person is in an accident and their jaw and teeth are broken, then surgical intervention to repair the jaw and teeth would be considered a covered services. Likewise, a serious infection or an abscessed tooth leading to a necessary extraction would also be covered.
For a person who may live in a care home, a cap, crown, dental implant or denture may be covered. For example, a patient who is in a care home my be unable to chew without appropriate intervention. This could seriously impact the nutritional health of such a patient.
However, in general, Medicaid and Medi-Cal are not vehicles for dental care for the indigent anymore. A better option may be contacting local charitable organizations that help the indigent find care.