I hadn't had dental insurance since college and after 4 years, those cavities really need to be dealt with. And now it looks like my wisdom tooth has decided to (very painfully) make its appearance! My paycheck's just enough to pay the rent, but not enough to leave me with any savings... and the work health insurance has absolutely no dental coverage. How do people in my position get their teeth fixed in this city?? Is there an affordable dental plan out there for the starving low-middle class or do we have to shell out $500 per cavity?
- Running out of Tylenol

We're glad you asked, because the longer you let these problems go without attention, the more likely they are to get worse (and therefore, even more expensive to fix). We were in the same position as you, with lousy dental insurance, and had barely seen a dentist for several years... let's just say we spent most of last year at the dentist making up for lost time... so we can relate to your affordable dentistry woes.

If you already have a dentist, or a recommendation for a particular one, ask him or her about payment plans - some dentists are flexible and will allow you to make a partial payment up front and then pay the rest in installments. We also found this list of affordable dental providers in New York City, many of whom provide services on a sliding scale basis.

You might also want to consider getting the work done at a dental school - New York City has several, including the NYU College of Dentistry (whose website says "Because of our focus on education and research in a university environment, we are able to offer our services at lower fees than comparable procedures at private practices") and the Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery (whose website states "Although it does take extra time for procedures to be completed, getting your treatment at the CU Teaching Clinic can save money particularly when extensive dental work is needed").

Related: a previous Ask Gothamist posting about sources for affordable health insurance.