Getting a Root Canal with MassHealth (and Health Safety Net)

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teeth talk

Recently I had to get a root canal while under MassHealth insurance, and I’d like to share my experience in hopes that it will help others.

Note: Obviously what I detail below is only applicable to Massachusetts residents, however, if your income is low enough that you qualify for state-run dental insurance, some of this may be interesting to read for you as well.

What is Covered Under MassHealth

As a member of Mass Health, I have basic dental procedures like fillings, cleanings and x-rays covered under MassHealth’s new 2015 policy. However, Mass Health does not cover more advanced procedures like root canals and crowns.

Health Safety Net

Not to worry though –  there is a program called Health Safety Net that provides free dental care for more advanced procedures. If you’re a MassHealth member, you may qualify for Health Safety (you can call and find out at: 1-877-910-2100).

Some requirements for qualifying for Massachusetts Health Safety Net includes:

  • You or your family must have limited income or large medical bills that you can’t pay
  • You must have no health insurance or not have health insurance that pays for dental services
  • You need to be a Massachusetts resident

I actually had no idea this program existed, but when I called I learned that I automatically qualified for Health Safety Net under my MassHealth coverage, and you may too!

Once you’re a member of Health Safety Net, they’ll cover dental procedures including:

  • Fillings
  • Root Canals
  • Deep Scaling
  • Crowns
  • Dentures
  • + Cleanings, Checkups, and X-Rays (although all this should already be covered by MassHealth)

Massachusetts Community Health Clinics

In order to receive one of these procedures through Healthy Safety Net, you need to visit a Community Health Clinic.

Unfortunately, these clinics are very busy and often cannot take new customers. However, you can try showing up during their walk-in clinic hours, although I’m not sure how much help you’ll receive.

Still, if you can get in with one of these clinics, you’ll be able to get the necessary procedures done, which is great.

Some community health clinics even have Harvard medical faculty, so you’re in good hands.

Boston Area Community Health Clinics

Below is a list of some of the Boston area Community Health Clinics. Call and see if you can get dental treatment at one of these facilities.

Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center : Framingham

Joseph M. Smith Community Health Center : Waltham

Windsor Street Health Center : Cambridge

  • Address: 119 Windsor Street, 2nd Floor. Cambridge 02139
  • Phone Number: (617) 665-3990

Fenway Health Center : Fenway

Joseph M. Smith Community Health Center : Allston

North End Community Health Center : Boston (North End)

South Cove Community Health Center : Boston

  • Address: 145 South Street, Boston 02111
  • Phone Number: (617) 521-6760
  • Website:

South End Community Health Center : Boston (South)

  • Address: 1601 Washington Street, Boston 02118
  • Phone Number: (617) 425-2000
  • Website:

Check out this document providing more complete details on all the MA Community Health Centers and services they offer. Alternatively, you can call the Office of Oral Health at: 617-624-6074 or email: [email protected]

Problems with Health Safety Net

However, there is a catch. While these clinics will cover root canals from front teeth, the clinics do not cover root canals for back teeth. While I cannot say for 100% certainty you won’t find a community healthy clinic that does molar teeth, I called over 6+ and they all said that their clinics do not do molar teeth root canals and that they do not know of any community health centers that do.

This ultimately means that if you need work done on molar teeth, you’ll probably have to pay out of pocket. In this case, your best option is to go to a dental school clinic or consider purchasing a dental discount program (which is somewhat similar to dental insurance, few major differences).

For more dental information, check out our articles on:

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about the author:
Meg Mars
Meg is a writer who is passionate about healthy eating. From Whole30 and South Beach Diet, to paleo and intermittent fasting, she's experimented with several healthy eating regiments and is passionate about helping readers find the perfect food plan match for their lifestyles.

2 thoughts on “Getting a Root Canal with MassHealth (and Health Safety Net)”

  1. I need a cleaning of one on my left front tooth, they still want to charge me at a dental school I know mass health will cover anything that is medically necessary after antibiotic I think that’s the case. it’s up to the provider if they want to rip you off and i guess I’m on that list. The front teeth are covered by mass health for root canals. But cleaning of a root canal??


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