Those on tight budgets are used to cutting back on necessary expenditure, and certain costly activities, such as the monthly dental check-up, may fall by the wayside, at least until something goes wrong and can no longer be easily ignored. However, finding an affordable dental practitioner can be an extremely tricky business, especially for those on low incomes, the elderly, disabled and those without dental insurance and access to credit. The current economic climate, which has seen thousands lose their jobs-and their insurance-has exacerbated the problem.Fortunately, there are a number of ways in which you can seek out cut-price, or even free dental care. One way is to contact the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), who sometimes look for volunteers to take part in clinical trials related to dental or oral conditions.There are also programmes offered by many health and social service agencies that provide free dental treatments for stricken patients unable to meet the cost of treatment. The dental healthcare professionals that work in these programmes volunteer their time and services for free, and are fully qualified.You can also look investigate options through the American Dental Association, who will have a complete list of all dental schools in the US. Often, dental schools, as well as teaching hospitals and local universities provide what is known as ‘sliding-scale services’. This means that treatment can be received for a much lower, reduced fee. Look also for local community options, as some dentists will provide cut-price services in your area, and will sometimes provide treatment for free. As previously mentioned, many dentists also donate their time and services through various organisations to provide low-cost or free dental care, so be sure to keep an eye out for any such events in your area. Organisations such as Dentistry From the Heart and the Mission of Mercy dental clinic provide such services-and often for free- to the unemployed and otherwise uninsured.For those who don’t qualify for free care, services and treatments are often provided at a fraction of the normal cost-and this can be as much as 1/10th of the usual cost of treatment. Check out the organisations online [http://getfreedental.com/] and look for upcoming events in your area.