When dental procedures start to add up, how do you ensure your oral health while also making ends meet financially? The answer lies in dental financing, which can help you pay for procedures without having to rack up large amounts of debt and without needing to pay exorbitantly high interest rates. If you are wondering whether you qualify for dental financing, the answer is almost certainly yes. Here are a few options for you that can help you pay for the dental procedures you need.
When Do You Need Dental Financing?
Before you rush out to apply for dental loans, it’s useful to know what situations call for dental financing and which do not. Generally speaking, you should consider a dental loan or other financing option if you have a significant one-time dental payment to make. This should be something that is either medically necessary or which will improve the quality of your life and your overall dental health in the future. For example, a crown or dental bridge might not be strictly medically necessary but provides patients with much better oral comfort and does a good job of helping to prevent other potential dental problems down the road. On the other hand, getting a loan for teeth whitening may not be the best of ideas unless you have a reason to believe that you can pay off the loan very quickly.
A dental loan provides you with a fast approval process and quick access to money that you can use to pay for a procedure. These loans have high approval rates and require you to make payments using a prescheduled payment plan. Dental payment plans usually come on a monthly basis, although some lenders might be willing to work with you on the exact details. Because they are lines of credit, dental loans often require you to pass a credit check and pay interest on the money you borrowed. This is not universally true—in order to benefit those who have financial hardship, some lenders now use other means beyond just a credit score to determine whether a given person is a good risk.
The dental loan process is as follows:
- Seek out a reputable and reliable company that offers dental loans.
- Fill in an application. This is usually done online, with an approval process of 24 to 48 hours.
- If approved, receive your money and use it to pay your dental office for the procedure.
- Pay back the loan in monthly installments. You can pay the debt off more quickly by paying before the due date or paying a higher amount than your minimum payment.
- You can pay off most dental loans in three to five years. If you are unable to pay a loan, reach out to your financial institution to talk about the possibilities of payment adjustments or refinancing.
Some dental offices offer financing directly, usually in conjunction with a dental financing company. This option allows you to work directly with your local dental office to create a payment plan. Many dental financing options are available without requiring a traditional credit check. This is a boon for those who have less than stellar credit because even a simple credit check can sometimes lower your overall credit score. Financing options also tend to offer a low interest rate and allow the office to more accurately factor in the amount of money that your dental insurance might provide for a procedure. If you opt for financing, you need to make sure to make payment promptly, because failure to do so can alienate the office which you visit for checkups.
The dental financing process is as follows:
- Talk with your dental office regarding what financing options are available.
- Fill in an application. You may need to do this online, but can likely do it in the dental office as well before you leave.
- If approved, the financing company provides your dental office with the money you owe.
- You then pay back the money in monthly installments based on the agreement you signed.
- You can typically expect to pay the debt off in full within three years, although some procedures may take a different amount of time to repay.
- If you run into trouble making monthly payments, speak with your office to see if alternate arrangements are possible.
Dental Credit Cards
A dental credit card works similarly to a normal credit card, but can only be used for certain healthcare expenses. The most well-known example of these cards in North America is CareCredit, which can be used for medical and dental expenses in many offices throughout both the United States and Canada. These cards are a good way to finance procedures that are lower in cost or expenses which you believe you can pay off in a 12 to 18 month period. Many of these cards offer an introductory period where interest rates don’t apply, but all the interest hits your account at once if you do not manage to pay the card off in full by the end of that introductory period.
The dental credit card process works in the following manner:
- Choose a card provider.
- Fill out an application, usually online. In some cases, your dental office may be able to apply for you over the phone while you are still in the office.
- If approved, you have an immediate line of credit which you can use for dental expenses. A plastic card will arrive within a few days.
- Pay for the immediate dental expense on the credit card. You then pay the financing company back on a monthly basis as you would for any other credit card charge.
- If you only pay the minimum amount of your card, you could spend up to 10 years paying off an expense. If you pay more and are able to clear the card’s balance before the introductory period ends, you will pay no interest at all.
Using Financing with Insurance
Each of these financing options helps to pay for the cost of a procedure that your insurance doesn’t cover fully. You should always remain aware of your dental insurance costs and requirements, especially if you know that you have a major procedure coming up. Your dental office should also have your insurance information on file. If you change insurance providers or upgrade your coverage plan, you should reach out to your dental office to let them know as soon as possible. When a major expense such as a root canal or a dental implant comes up, the price your office quotes you usually takes your insurance into account and assumes that your provider will cover the costs not listed.
Regarding your dental insurance and how it might play into the cost of a major dental procedure, you should consider the following:
- What is your deductible? This is the amount that you need to pay for any procedure, whether a simple checkup or a major surgery. The exact amount of your deductible might vary depending on the type of appointment you have.
- What is your out of pocket cost? Some plans require you to pay a set amount of money yourself before they kick in. This is an important factor when considering the timing of your appointments.
- What is your yearly limit? Many insurance plans have a yearly cap, after which the coverage no longer applies in full. You should keep this number in mind, because if you hit this limit early in the year you might find yourself needing a lot of financing in order to cover procedures later on.
- When does your insurance year end? If you have multiple procedures upcoming, you may be able to save money by planning them at the very end and very beginning of the insurance year to effectively increase your limit. However, remember that your out of pocket expenses also reset at the end of the year.
Working with Your Dental Office
When considering your financing options, don’t be afraid to ask your dental office for advice. Remember that a dentist’s primary concern is to make sure that your mouth remains healthy, and a typical professional will do what is necessary to help you make an important procedure happen. Similarly, the office clerks and those in administrative positions within the office are often sympathetic to financial hardship and will usually do what they can to help. If you aren’t sure which financing option is right for you or have questions about how a proposed treatment interacts with your insurance, make sure to voice those concerns as early as possible. Most of the time, your dental office will serve as an ally in this matter.
Dental procedures can be expensive, but the cost shouldn’t stop you from getting the care you need. By utilizing the financing options outlined above and checking to see what your dental insurance covers, you can make even large expenses manageable. When in doubt, speak with your dental office to get an idea of what options are available to you.