Dental care for Overall Health: Protect Yourself and Your Family
Good dental health Free and low cost dental care Unlicensed dentists Resources

Preventing and treating dental disease is essential for overall health and well-being at every stage of life.

Older man brushing teeth Children need their baby teeth to eat and speak properly and to help keep space for adult teeth to settle in.

In adulthood, poor oral hygiene and lack of proper dental care can lead to a serious form of disease called periodontitis. This is a gum infection that may cause bleeding, pain, and damage to tissue and surrounding bone, and may result in tooth loss. In fact, researchers have found that periodontitis is linked to diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Older adults may experience dry mouth, especially if they are taking multiple medications, which increases the risk of tooth decay. Older adults are also at higher risk for mouth cancer, which can be diagnosed early during routine dental exams.

What do I need to do for good dental health?

Video from ADA on how to brush teeth Brush your teeth properly twice a day and use toothpaste with fluoride

Watch the video or read these simple instructions from the American Dental Association (ADA) on how to brush properly.

Simple picture guide from the ADA on how to brush teeth
Video from ADA on how to floss Floss Every Day

Watch the video or read these simple instructions from the ADA on how to floss properly.

Simple picture guide from the ADA on how to floss
Tap water in a drinking glass

Choose Water

Drinking water is great for your dental health. It keeps your mouth clean and strengthens your teeth. We recommend drinking fluoridated tap water because it has been proven to help prevent cavities. Read more about why water is the best beverage for your teeth.

Here are some fun and delicious suggestions to help make tap water your family’s favorite choice.
girl drinking glass of water
Healthy plate showing correct portions Eat a healthy and balanced diet

Learn why a healthy diet is so important for a healthy mouth here and visit for tips on eating well for your health in Los Angeles.

1-800-No-BUTTS Don't Smoke

If you do smoke, reach out to the California Smokers’ Helpline at 1-800-NO-BUTTS and get help to quit smoking. Watch this video or to visit this webpage to learn more about how tobacco use effects your oral health.
Boy smiling having dental checkup Get a check-up every six months from a licensed dentist

Children should visit a dentist when they reach their first birthday or once their first baby tooth comes in.

Everyone, children and adults, should visit a dentist for routine check-ups and preventive care every 6 months.
Video about dental sealants Learn about dental sealants

Sealants are thin coatings that are painted on to the back teeth to help prevent cavities. They are recommended for all children from age 6  as well as for some adults.

Visit the ADA sealant webpage or view their video to learn more.
Video on oral health care during pregnancy  Take extra care with your teeth if you are pregnant

Taking care of your mouth during pregnancy is important for your baby and you ! Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that increase the risk of developing gum disease which, in turn, can affect the health of your developing baby.

Watch the ADA video or visit their webpage to learn more about Healthy Dental Habits to Practice During Pregnancy.
Pregnant woman brushing teeth

How can I get free or low-cost dental care?

Free and low-cost dental care is available in Los Angeles County to any child or adult who needs it regardless of their ability to pay or their immigration status. Here’s how to get started:

211 helpline logo

DHCS Denti-Cal logo
Find a Health Care Program
  • Dial 2-1-1 for the Los Angeles County Infoline or visit The 2-1-1 infoline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in over 100 languages.***
  • Call the Denti-Cal Beneficiary Helpline at 1-800-322-6384 to learn about Denti-Cal, the State dental insurance program. If you have or are eligible for Medi-Cal, you are also eligible for Denti-Cal.
  • Download a list  of dental clinics where you can get free care in Los Angeles.
paying for dental care Learn about paying for dental care

If you are not eligible for these programs or need care that is not covered:
  • Check with local Dental Schools
  • Shop around. Don’t be shy about calling or visiting the dental office before deciding on a dentist. Schedule a consultation time to meet with the dentist and staff before making an appointment, and do not be afraid to ask for a second opinion.
  • Don’t forget to check your dentist's license. Visit the California Department of Consumer Affairs License Search Website.
  • More questions about going to the dentist? Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.

How to avoid a dental scam and what to do if you are a victim of a scam

Scam alert

Beware of Unlicensed Dentists

Some people seek care from an unlicensed or “garage” dentist who might cost less or are able to see patients quickly. People might not know that the “dentist” who treated them was not licensed or qualified.

Unlicensed dentists perform a range of illegal and potentially harmful dental work including removing teeth, performing root canals, and doing tests such as x-rays. They may work out of offices, homes, and other non-clinical, unhygienic settings such as hair salons, garages, and restaurants. They may also operate illegal dental laboratories that make implants and dentures that are poor quality or unsafe.

People who practice illegally often have limited dental experience in the U.S., or even no dental experience at all. Others may have been dentists in their home country   but are unable to get a license in California. They may have lost their license due to malpractice or illegal activities.

Getting dental care from an unlicensed person can lead to dangerous complications, such as infection from dirty dental instruments, permanent injury, and chronic health problems. Going to an illegal dentist can also delay or prevent a person from getting the proper treatment that they really need .

Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA) logo

How Can I Report a Problem?
  • If you have been a victim of an unlicensed dentist or someone pretending to be a dentist, or if you think that you have been charged for services that you did not receive, call the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs Consumer Helpline at 1-800-593-8222. This hotline provides services in multiple languages, and staff can help you report a problem to the police or file a complaint with the Dental Board of California. They can also try to help you get your money back.
  • Learn more about health scams here.
  • You can also file a complaint with the Dental Board of California if you think you have seen an unlicensed dentist or have concerns about care you received.


To find health care, dial 2-1-1 for the Los Angeles County Infoline or visit

Check into Medi-Cal Dental by calling the Beneficiary Helpline at 1-800-322-6384 or visit Denti-Cal.

For free or low cost dental care, contact local Dental Schools.

To check your dentist's license, visit the CA Department of Consumer Affairs License Search Website. If you have been a victim of an unlicensed dentist:

Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.
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