Get Middle Tennessee Dental Care with Medicare and Interfaith Dental

Reviewed and Updated by Anastasia Iliou,

Nashville and Middle Tennessee residents don’t have to suffer from a lack of affordable dental coverage. In 1994, Dr. Tom Underwood founded Interfaith Dental with the help of the Nashville Dental Society and the Outreach Commission of West End United Methodist Church. 

Interfaith Dental makes it possible for low-income families to access the dental care they need without having to pay full price.

Dental Office Chair

Low Income Dental Clinics in Middle Tennessee

Middle Tennessee has quite a few public health clinics, and many specialize in dental care for low-income families and individuals. We work closely with Interfaith Dental, located both in the Fesslers Lane/Elm Hill Pike area of Nashville and near the St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital campus in Murfreesboro. Below are some of the low-income dental clinic options you have in Middle Tennessee. 

  1. Interfaith Dental Clinic (600 Hill Ave., Nashville, TN 37210)
  2. Lentz Public Health Clinic (2500 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN 37209)
  3. Main Street Clinic Nashville (905 Main St., Nashville, TNc 37206)
  4. Matthew Walker Clinic (14th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37208)
  5. Downtown Homeless Clinic Nashville (526 85th Ave. South, Nashville, TN 37203)
  6. Southside Family Clinic (107 Charles E. Davis Blvd., Nashville, TN 37210)
  7. Vine Hill Dental Clinic (601 Benton Ave., Nashville, TN 37204)
  8. Meharry School of Dentistry Clinic (1005 Dr. DB Todd, Jr. Blvd, Old Hospital 3rd Floor, Nashville, TN, 37203)

How to Find a Low-Income Dentist Near You

Not located in Middle TN? That’s ok – there are plenty of low income dentists throughout the country. This government website is operated by the Bureau of Primary Health Care, a part of the Health Resources and Services Administration. You can use their tool to find a federally-funded community health center that offers dental services. 

Additionally, you can search through the American Dental Association or the American Dental Hygienists’ Association to find supervised, low-cost care that is part of the training program for dental students. Your care will be supervised by licensed and experienced dentists.
If you have Medicare, we can help you make sure you have the best Medicare plan to get you the dental services you need and help you find the best dentist that accepts Medicare.

Who is Interfaith Dental (IFD)?

Interfaith Dental is a low income dental clinic with a mission to “create a healthier community by providing transformational oral health care for those experiencing poverty.” They envision a Middle Tennessee community where every resident “has the opportunity to achieve and sustain a healthy smile,” regardless of income status.

When it began in 1994, IFD only had two chairs and one employee, operating out of the West End United Methodist Church basement. By 1998, they were able to move their operation to 1721 Patterson Street (just off West End, near the St. Thomas Midtown campus). 

In 2012, they opened another clinic in Murfreesboro, expanding their reach into Rutherford County. In even bigger news, this past year (2019), the clinic was able to expand into a new office at 600 Hill Avenue (near the Fesslers Lane/Elm Hill Pike intersection).

They’ve come along way from their two-chair operation, now owning 26 state-of-the-art dental operatories.

How to Become an Interfaith Dental Patient

Since the Interfaith Dental Clinic offers such low-cost dental care, there is an application process before you become eligible for services. To be eligible, you must be legally considered low-income (living below the poverty line), uninsured, and suffering from a devastating dental disease. 

To get more information or to schedule your first appointment, call 615-329-4790 for the Nashville office, or 615-225-4141 for the Murfreesboro office. 

Your Interfaith Dental journey will begin with a phone questionnaire. You’ll be asked for some basic information which will determine if you are eligible for Interfaith Dental Clinic services and what services you need.

Next, the Patient Care Coordinator that you speak with will tell you when the next “Application Day” is. On that day, you’ll come into the office to complete your application. Both the Nashville and Murfreesboro locations have the same office hours in 2019, which are: 

  • Monday through Wednesday, 8 AM to 4 PM
  • Thursdays, 1 PM to 7:30 PM
  • Fridays, 8 AM to 12 PM

Be sure to bring the following items with you on “Application Day”: 

  • Current Year Tax Return  
  • Two current pay stubs for anyone working in your household.
    • If you are paid in cash, provide written documentation from your employer on a business letterhead that contains the business name, address, phone number, and owner information as well as your hire date, hours worked per week, pay rate, and hourly income.
    • College students, bring your class schedule
    • Work training program participants, bring proof of enrollment.
  • 65+, provide social security/pension/retirement proof of income.  
  • Proof of address (utility bill, bank statement, etc.)  
  • TN driver license  
  • Referral from medical professional, social worker, or employer (if you have one)

Due to high demand, there may be a waiting period for your services. There are a limited amount of applications that are handed out on a first-come, first-serve basis every month. 

While walk-ins are generally not accepted, please call Interfaith Dental if you have a dental emergency. Some emergency services are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis.

What to Expect from Your First Interfaith Dental Appointment

At your first Interfaith Dental Clinic appointment, you’ll begin by meeting the team members. Then, someone will sit with you to review your medical and dental history and discuss all of your dental concerns. 

Interfaith Dental care is comprehensive – they want to know how your dental health has affected your career, your family, and even your self-confidence. Is your goal to have a beautiful smile again, or to eliminate pain? Your care providers will hear all of your concerns and follow up with the best possible care. 

The next step of your first appointment is a series of full diagnostic X-rays and oral exams that will help the doctors determine a treatment plan. Phase one will usually include fillings, cleanings, and extractions, and phase two will include crowns, root canals, and even partial dentures, if necessary.

If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is. Your first appointment with Interfaith Dental can take up to two hours, in some cases – so be sure to allow that much time out of your day.

Interfaith Dental Office | Middle TN Dental Care for Low-Income People

Photo of an actual Interfaith Dental operating room, per

Medicare Dental Coverage in Middle Tennessee

Original Medicare only covers dental services when they are part of a hospital stay. 

For example, if you go to the St. Thomas emergency room with a fractured jaw and need emergency dental care in the hospital, those services may be covered by Medicare Part A. However, common dental services and treatments such as annual exams, cleanings, root canals, dentures, implants, etc. are not covered by Original Medicare. 

To get Medicare dental coverage, you’ll need to either enroll in a private, individual dental plan or a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan. Medicare Advantage plans, even though they are Medicare health plans, are operated by private insurance companies, which allow them to add benefits that the Original Medicare program does not cover. This can include not only dental benefits but also benefits like fitness programs, vision, meal delivery, etc.

Medicare Plan Finder and Interfaith Dental, Bringing Change Together

Medicare Plan Finder works with Interfaith Dental by helping their patients fill the gaps in their dental coverage. Interfaith Dental is not always able to provide free or very low-cost care. For example, there may be times where a $10,000 dental procedure costs $5,000 at Interfaith Dental. You’d still be paying $5,000 less than if you went to a regular dentist, but that $5,000 may be more than you can handle. At Medicare Plan Finder, we try to match you up with a low-cost insurance plan that can cover those extra out-of-pocket costs. 

Start by scheduling your appointment at the Interfaith Dental Clinic located nearest to you. Call 615-329-4790 for the Nashville office, or 615-225-4141 for the Murfreesboro office. 

Then, if your doctor determines that you need a series of procedures that you can’t afford (even with Interfaith Dental’s help), give us a call at 844-431-1832. We can help you determine whether or not you are eligible for Medicare (did you know you don’t have to be 65?). If you’re eligible, we’ll help you find low-cost coverage so that you can go back to Interfaith Dental to get the services you need.

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