Getting a Dental Procedure Without Dental Insurance

Iqaluit Dental Clinic image of a person getting their teeth worked on by a dentist.
January 11, 2023 0 Comments

At Iqaluit Dental Clinic, we believe that there are several ways to get access to free or low-cost dental treatment in Canada, even if you have no dental insurance. However, there are certain criteria that you have to fulfil in order to be eligible for such programs and benefits. Generally, many people in Canada enjoy an employee-sponsored dental plan, which is referred to as ‘private dental insurance’.

The Details

However, if you are not sponsored by your employee or cannot afford dental insurance, you can qualify for ‘public dental insurance’, which is covered by taxes or ‘public money’. Let’s look at the government dental plans in Canada that allow access to free or low-cost dental treatments:

1. Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) – The Non-Insured Health Benefits program offers free dental care to eligible First Nations people and Inuit. To be an eligible recipient, you have to be a Canadian resident in addition to one of the following:

  • An Inuk recognized by one of the Inuit Land Claim Organizations
  • A First Nations person (Indian) who is registered under the Indian Act
  • An infant of less than 12 months old born to parents who are eligible for NIHB

The coverage for NIHB includes the following:

  • Restorative services such as fillings
  • Diagnostic services such as x-rays or examination
  • Adjunctive services such as sedation or general anaesthetics
  • Preventive services such as cleanings
  • Orthodontic services such as braces
  • Endodontic services such as root canals
  • Oral surgery services such as the removal of teeth
  • Prosthodontic services such as the removal of dentures
  • Periodontal services such as deep cleanings

You have to get pre-approval for specific dental services.

2. Healthy Smiles Ontario (HSO) – Healthy Smiles Ontario offers free dental care for kids and adolescents 17 years old and younger. It is a combination of multiple publicly funded free dental care programs including:

  • Children in Need of Treatment (CINOT)
  • Ontario Works dental benefits for kids
  • Preventive services provided by local public health units
  • Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities dental benefits program
  • Ontario Disability Support Program dental benefits for kids

To be eligible for the HSO program, the child must:

  • Live in Ontario
  • Be 17 years old or younger
  • Live in a low-income household:

The full range of preventive and routine dental services that are covered by Healthy Smiles Ontario include:

  • Cleaning
  • Dental exams and checkups
  • Root canal, post
  • Root canal surgery
  • Fluoride treatment
  • Laboratory fees
  • Fillings for cavities
  • Sealants
  • Prefabricated crowns
  • Fixed bridges for the replacement of permanent anterior teeth
  • Partial dentures for the replacement of permanent anterior teeth
  • Extractions
  • Mouthguards
  • Pins
  • Complete dentures
  • Extractions
  • Gum surgery
  • Sedation
  • X-rays

However, HSO does not cover dental implants, braces, and cosmetic treatments such as veneers and teeth whitening.

3. Ontario Works (OW) – The Ontario Works program offers free dental care to low-income adults in Ontario. It also offers income and employment support to people in temporary financial need. And, children of parents that are eligible for OW or Temporary Care Assistance are automatically enrolled in Healthy Smiles Ontario and become eligible for free dental care.

To be eligible for Ontario Works, you must:

  • Need money right away to help pay for food and shelter
  • Live in Ontario
  • Be willing to take part in activities that will help you to find a job

Additionally, your income, family size, housing costs, and assets will be taken into account when you apply for Ontario Works.

The Ontario Works dental coverage includes:

  • Basic diagnostics
  • Oral surgery services
  • Restorative surgery services
  • Preventive surgery services
  • Periodontal surgery services
  • Endodontic surgery services
  • Prosthodontic surgery services

If you don’t qualify for Ontario Works but live on a limited income, you should consider low-cost dental clinics such as:

  • George Brown College, Wave Dental Clinic
  • The University of Toronto, Faculty of Dentistry
  • West End Oral Health Clinic

4. The Alberta Adult Health Benefit (AAHB) – The Alberta Adult Health Benefit (AAHB) provides free dental care to low-income adults in Alberta. It includes access to essential dental services such as extractions, fillings, and additional services such as annual examinations and teeth cleanings.

To be eligible for AAHB, you must:

  • Be a Canadian citizen and live in Alberta
  • Be an individual with an income of less than $15.545
  • Less than 18 or 20 if you live at home and attend high school

There are many other considerations such as whether you leave income support and whether you have income from employment, self-employment, or the Canada Pension Plan Disability program.

5. Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program (OSDCP) – The Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program was created to provide free or low-cost dental care to low-income seniors in Ontario. The OSDCP is not accessible through your regular dentist since its services are provided through Public Health Units, Aboriginal Health Access Centres, and some Community Health Centres.

The goal of the program is to improve the overall well-being of the elderly and reduce emergency hospital wait times. It covers regular dental checkups, fillings, cleanings, x-rays, tooth removal, root canals, and partially covers dentures.

To be eligible for OSDCP, you must:

  • Be a resident of Ontario
  • Be at least 65 years old
  • Not have other dental benefits
  • Have an annual income of $22,000 or less or a combined annual income of $37,100 or less for couples.

6. The Interim Federal Health Program (IFPH) – The Interim Federal Health Program (IFPH) offers free emergency dental care for resettled refugees. The IFHP certificates are issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

It only covers initial services for emergency dental care such as pain, bleeding, infection, and trauma along with emergency examinations, simple extractions, dental x-rays, and prescriptions. It does not cover orthodontics, dental cleanings, root canals, sedation, and pulpotomies and stainless-steel crowns.


At Iqaluit Dental Clinic, we suggest you don’t ignore dental and oral health problems if you don’t have proper dental insurance. You can look into the several free or low-cost options mentioned in this article and do your research to understand which of those options you might be eligible for and get dental treatment easily. Any dental problem you ignore can turn into severe health complications that will cost you more in the future.