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How to Finance a Dental Procedure

You’re busy! Between taking kids to soccer practice, lugging your dog to the vet and rushing to make meals three times a day, it’s easy to put off going to the dentist or scheduling a dental procedure.

But neglecting your dental health can lead to expensive dental procedures. Furthermore, tooth health helps ensure total body health. Did you know dental problems can lead to more serious health issues, such as heart problems, pregnancy and birth complications and even pneumonia?

The reality is that dental procedures are expensive — and the costs increase every year. In fact, dental procedures increased 23 percent (adjusted for inflation) from 1996 to 2015, according to a Federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality report. If you have several family members, that can mean multiple dental procedures each year — which can cost significantly more.

Let’s say you need dentures, which can cost $1,000 to $3,000, or maybe your child needs braces to the tune of $5,000 to $6,000. You may have dental insurance, but your insurance may not cover the entire cost of these expensive dental procedures.

Let’s explore how to finance a dental procedure and some alternative options as well.

Do I Need to Finance a Dental Procedure?

First, ask yourself whether you really need to finance your dental procedure. Are there other alternatives?

Can you look into dental insurance, opt for payment plans through your dentist’s office or go the health savings account route? Let’s peel back these options, then determine how to go about taking out a dental loan if that is your best option.

Check into Insurance for Dental Work — and Medical Insurance, too!

Medical insurance often covers certain dental work. Dental insurance companies often have specific coverage points — in other words, they’ll cover certain procedures up to point. Knowing the ins and outs of your health insurance and the details of a dental claim are key to knowing your next steps.

Here’s how medical coverage and dental coverage sometimes overlap.

  • It’s medical coverage when you use it to treat a medical condition. For example, an underbite is a dental condition, not a medical condition.
  • An abscessed tooth is both a medical and dental condition.

Ultimately, whether or not you’re reimbursed by your medical or dental insurance company depends on your insurance company, dates of service, and the dental care you’re requesting payment for.

Check into your dental insurance options. If you have dental insurance, make sure everything’s covered.

Learn About Payment Plans for Dental Work Through Your Dentist’s Office

Don’t forget to look into payment plans. Many dentists offer them!

A dental payment plan is just like it sounds. It spreads out the cost of a dental procedure over time. Opting for a payment plan might be your best bet if you don’t have dental insurance or if your dental insurance doesn’t cover the entire bill for your root canal, dentures or other procedure.

Payment plans differ from dentist to dentist. Various dentists’ payment plans require:

  • Weekly payments
  • Monthly payments
  • Interest-free payments for a certain period of time
  • Interest payments

It’s a really good idea to shop around for a new dentist if your current dentist requires a payment frequency you can’t keep up with or requires you to make interest payments. It’s completely possible to choose a qualified dentist based on the loosest payment plan options and terms. Call and ask the following questions:

  • “Is there a dollar amount or certain procedure or dollar amount that qualifies me for a payment plan?”
  • “Will you pull my credit to decide whether I’m eligible?”

Health Savings Account Options

Do you have a health savings account (HSA)? Here are some of the most common types of HSA-qualified dental care procedures, according to HSAStore:

  • Fillings: These fill a cavity after your dentist has cleaned the affected area.
  • Root canal: Your dentist removes the infected parts of your tooth’s root and fills in that area with a hard, protective material.
  • Extraction: Your dentist removes a tooth completely.
  • Crowns: Your dentist replaces broken or cracked teeth with a crown, or permanent artificial dental material.
  • Dentures: Your dentist can fit you with full or partial dentures, or removable artificial teeth. HSAs may also cover denture accessories, like cleaning supplies and sealants.
  • Bonding: Dentists apply a resin the same color as your tooth to the area that's chipped or cracked and bond it with an ultraviolet light.

Don’t forget that an HSA may cover expenses for standard dental cleanings and dental check-ups. Check with your dental insurance provider to find out exactly what you'll have to pay out of pocket, because a lot of these will likely have a co-payment.

How to Take Out a Dental Loan

If insurance, payment plans and HSA options are a no-go, you may want to take out a dental loan. Here’s how to get it done.

Step 1: Shop around.

Dental loans are usually unsecured personal loans. An unsecured personal loan depends on your creditworthiness and isn’t backed by your own personal collateral (like a house, car, etc.) You can use them to take care of emergency procedures or already planned cosmetic work.

Shop around among online lenders, banks and credit unions so you get the right loan for you. Each provider offers a different rate, loan amount and monthly payment. You want the best loan offer, so don’t choose the first one you Google until you’ve compared it to other options.

Step 2: Check out the annual percentage rate and other details.

Let’s expand a little on the first point. The annual percentage rate (APR) is a key detail in the finding-a-loan process. It involves the entire cost of a loan, including fees involved. Take a look at APR, not just interest rate, to find the least expensive loan.

  • Learn about other fees. What other fees are involved? Lenders often charge other fees for taking out a loan.
  • Can’t find the answers online? Call lenders and ask about all fees, including late payment fees and origination fee. You’ll usually pay up to eight percent of the loan in origination fees.

Step 3: Look into your qualifications.

Look beyond your dentist’s qualifications and your dental/medical insurance limitations. Some lenders have a minimum income or credit score requirement to get a loan. Others may require you to limit the amount of debt you can have. This is known as debt-to-income ratio (DTI).

Step 4: Make sure there’s no waiting period if you need the money quickly.

Sure, it’s possible to get same-day funding but other lenders might take longer. Need to speed up the process? Respond to your lender’s questions and offer documentation (when requested) to speed up the process as much as possible.

Step 5: Consider all your options.

You’re not limited to the first lender that pops up when you type in “dental loans” on Google. You’re also not limited to your employer’s dental insurance plan. That’s where DentalInsurance.com comes in.

You can shop for and compare dental insurance plans and discount dental plans through DentalInsurance.com. The site lets you compare plans side by side, research dental and insurance terms and learn more about options and dental procedures.

Searching both dental insurance plans (indemnity plans, dental PPOs and DHMOs) and discount dental plans has never been easier. Look into multiple carriers to help find the best plan for your needs. For more information, visit the individual dental insurance and family dental insurance pages.

Go for the Right Dental Financing Option for You

Dental procedures aren’t cheap, so that’s why you need to do your best to find the right payment strategy for your needs.

You want to get the best deal possible when you need expensive dental procedures. Sometimes you need to know every option possible, from financing through a dental loan or unsecured personal loan.

Don’t forget to tap into DentalInsurance.com to receive quotes from the best dental insurance companies. It takes just minutes to compare and contrast different dental plans, features and services that help cover your dental needs, whether you’re covering simple checkups, root canals or braces.

DentalInsurance.com’s licensed agents can assist online or over the phone. Get quotes, review, find the right plan, confirm your dentist is in the plan network, and enroll in the plan by calling 800-296-3800. Phone help is available Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST.