Dental Financing: Options And Alternatives To Consider
Hanna Kielar7-Minute Read
UPDATED: March 08, 2023
Dental work can be expensive, even if you have dental insurance. Most dental plans have an annual maximum of $1,000 – $1,500, and many come with a hefty deductible. When the average crown can cost $500 – $3,000 per tooth, you could easily surpass your maximum in a year’s time, especially if you have children.
If you have or are expecting a hefty dental bill you’re not sure you can afford, you may want to consider dental financing options. Let’s take a look at how to go about finding and choosing dental financing – and the requirements you’ll need to meet.
What Can You Use Dental Loans For?
Dental insurance can help cover the cost of many healthcare procedures related to dental work. However, most dental insurance policies don’t offer coverage for cosmetic dentistry, which may include dental treatments such as veneers, caps and teeth whitening.
Thankfully, once you obtain dental financing, you can use it to pay for almost any dental procedures, including cosmetic ones. Here are some of the more common procedures and their average costs:
- Dental implants: $3,000 – $4,500
- Dental veneers: $925 – $2,500 (per tooth)
- Dental crowns: $500 – $3,000 (per tooth)
- Root canals: $300 – $2,000
- Silver amalgam fillings: $210 – $330
- Composite resin fillings: $150 – $450
- Teeth whitening: $300 – $1,000
- Teeth cleaning with X-rays: $75 – $200
Options For Financing Dental Work
Whether you’re going through your dentist’s office or a third-party lender, getting dental financing may come down to your credit score. Good or excellent credit can help you qualify for a better interest rate. When applying for any loan, it’s best to prequalify so you can see your prospective loan’s rates and terms before fully committing. This may involve a soft credit check.
Let’s take a look at some financing options for those expensive dental procedures.
You may be able to apply for a financing plan through your dentist’s office. Some clinics work directly with third-party lenders to offer payment plans for their clients, and others may handle the plans themselves.
A major benefit to in-house financing is that some dentists might not require a credit check or a down payment. Keep in mind, though, that having no credit check could signify a higher annual percentage rate (APR) or fees with the loan.
Medical Credit Cards
Medical credit cards allow you to charge certain medical expenses, such as dental procedures, to them and repay the amount over time. Some cards come with a period of deferred interest where you’re not charged any interest up to a certain deadline. That interest accumulates, though, so if you can’t pay off your balance within the deferment period, you may owe all of the accrued interest on top of your next monthly payment.
Not all providers will accept medical credit cards, and not all lenders participate in the introductory deferment period. You should confirm these factors with your dental provider and credit card company before being issued the card.
A personal loan can serve many purposes, one of which is financing medical or dental expenses. One of the main perks of personal loans is that they’re typically unsecured, meaning you won’t need to put up any kind of collateral but your approval will depend mainly on your creditworthiness.
Unfortunately, unsecured loans do come with some drawbacks, like shorter loan terms, higher interest rates and stricter qualification requirements. So, if you have a low credit score, you might not be able to use this option.
Taking out a personal loan will also mean being responsible for a fixed monthly payment. If your budget is already stretched thin, you may want to think about whether you can afford that extra amount every month.
0% APR Credit Cards
Some credit card companies offer a 0% APR promotional period when you sign up for a new card. Similar to a medical credit card’s deferment period, you’ll be charged no interest for a select period of time, typically 12 – 18 months.
Though you won’t have to worry about accruing interest, you can still be hit with high interest rates if you don’t repay the full loan within that promotional period. Your subsequent APR will be based on your credit score and other factors when applying for the card.
How To Choose A Dental Financing Option
If you’re not sure which of the above payment options would be best for your situation, you can assess their affordability based on the following factors:
- APR: As mentioned above, APR will determine how much interest you’ll pay for the amount of money borrowed. APR also takes additional costs into consideration, like application fees or origination fees. When choosing a credit card or loan, seek one with the lowest available APR.
- Qualification requirements: There’s no point considering a financing option you’re not eligible for. Before researching a loan product or credit card, ensure you meet the requirements.
- Repayment term length: Ask yourself how long you want the loan for. Your answer will probably depend on your desired monthly payment amount. If you prefer a smaller payment, get a longer term.
- Prepayment penalty: You should also check to see if a certain loan option will charge a fee for paying off your balance early. If you don’t think you’ll pay off the loan ahead of time, you don’t need to worry about this expense.
- Loan or credit limits: Credit limits or loan amounts depend in large part on the individual lender or credit card company. Make sure your potential loan or credit card can cover your dental procedure’s costs.
Alternatives To Dental Financing
Dental loans aren’t the only way to fund expensive dental care. Before signing up for a loan, consider these alternative options:
Negotiate Your Bill
Depending on your dentist, you may be able to negotiate a more affordable price for yourself. You can use the Fair Health Consumer Database to find the average costs of certain dental procedures in your area, as well as their out-of-network or uninsured pricing. These comparable costs could help you convince your dentist to maybe their original price.
If you’re uninsured, you could talk with your dentist about possible discount points, too.
Use Your Savings
If you have an emergency fund, you could dip into your savings to pay for your dental procedure. It’s no fun taking from your savings, but if the procedure is an emergency, that’s what the fund is for.
Visit Different Dentists
Prices will always vary by dental provider. If you think your procedure may cost less elsewhere, try getting a quote from another dentist in your area. Shop around as many clinics as you like until you find a price that better suits your financial situation. If you have dental insurance, make sure any new provider is in your network.
Dental Financing FAQs
Finding the best dental financing option can be challenging. Learn more from the answers to these frequently asked questions.
Can I get dental financing without a credit check?
In some cases, it’s possible to get in-house financing through a dentist’s office without a credit check. However, this can lead to a higher APR and interest rates for your loan. Building up your credit can open up more options for you and qualify you for more favorable rates and terms with other loans.
Personal loans, medical cards and credit cards all typically require you to undergo a hard credit pull.
Can I get dental financing with bad credit?
It’s possible to get in-house financing through a dentist without a credit check. If you have your eye on another financing option but are concerned about your credit score, it may not hurt to still get preapproved and see what rates you can qualify for. For a better chance at getting the loan you want with the rates you prefer, take steps to improve your credit score.
Should I use a credit card or personal loan to pay for my dental work?
Whether a credit card or personal loan is the best choice for you will depend on your financial situation. Some borrowers may prefer a 0% APR credit card because they know they can pay off their balance before the introductory period ends. Others might want to use a personal loan because they have a high credit score and prefer fixed monthly payments.
To find out which option is better for you, assess your budget and calculate what you can more comfortably afford.
If you’re concerned about the high costs of dental procedures, be sure to explore your dental financing options. It can sometimes be easiest to go directly through your dental provider, but you may qualify for a better rate through a third-party lender if you have good credit. Otherwise, consider an alternative option.
Looking for more financing help? Discover the type of loan you’ll need for any situation.
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