Chances are a trip to the dentist isn’t one of your favorite experiences — especially when it involves an expensive procedure that you can’t afford. If you’re in pain or you need to replace a tooth to keep your smile intact, coming up with the money is a necessity.
You can offset some of the costs if you have dental insurance. But according to the National Association of Dental Plans, 114 million Americans don’t have dental coverage. Even if you do have insurance, more expensive procedures, such as crowns, are only usually covered by 50% when you have insurance, according to FAIR Health, which collects data on medical and dental costs.
Fortunately, there are several options for financing dental work. You can even find dental loans if you have bad credit and ones that require no credit check.
Here’s a look at the main types of dental procedures and their costs, the financing options for dental work and tips for choosing the best dental financing for you.
Main types of dental procedures
Be aware prices vary widely by region and dentist office. The amount you pay will also vary, if you have dental insurance. To check the average going rate for a procedure in your area, use a dental cost calculator, such as this one.
Here are the average costs for some of the most common dental procedures, according to the American Dental Association.
Teeth cleaning – $82 adult, $61 child
Sealant application – $44 per tooth
Cavity filling – $147 to $197 per filling
Root canal – $919
Dental crown (porcelain) – $1,026 per crown
Extracted tooth – $147 per tooth
Orthodontic work – $1,440
Financing options for dental work
Even with dental insurance, costs can add up. This is especially true when you need more than one procedure, which is common.
To decide on the best dental financing for you, consider the following options:
Dental payment plan
Some dentists will accept partial payment up front and then monthly payments. Such in-house payment plans, in which interest is usually not charged, are common when you will be returning over a period of several weeks or months for treatment. For instance, orthodontists often give payment plans for braces.
If it is a one-time treatment, such as for a filling, the dentist is less likely to give you an installment payment plan. The answer is to instead get some sort of financing. Before using one of the following financing options, make sure that it fits your budget.
Try a credit card
You may find that paying with a credit card is your best bet. Most dentists take credit cards. If you use a card that pays points or gives mileage or cash back, at least you will get something in return for your pain.
If you have good credit of 700+, you can apply for a credit card with a 0% introductory annual percentage rate (APR). As long as you pay the balance within the introductory period, usually six to 18 months, you won’t owe any interest.
Just make sure that you’ll be able to pay off the credit card in time, though, because the interest rate is likely to jump into double digits after that time. You’ll end up owing a lot more in the long run on your dental procedure.
To give you a possible scenario, the Citi Double Cash Card gives you an 18-month, 0% interest rate, which is most likely enough time to pay off your dental bill. You also get 1% cash back when you buy something and 1% back whenever you pay for items.
Many 0% cards are hard to get unless you have really good credit. If your credit isn’t good, it’s still possible to find a credit card. There are cards for people with less than ideal credit, such as the Indigo Platinum MasterCard. If you don’t know your credit score, this is a great place to check it.
Use a medical credit card
As their name suggests, medical credit cards give you a method of financing medical expenses, such as dental work. Such credit cards usually have an introductory 0% rate for six to 18 months, depending on how much you borrow. Use such a credit card only if you are sure you can pay it off within the required time. These cards differ from regular credit cards in that if you don’t pay them off within the grace period, you owe interest on the entire amount of money originally borrowed, not just on what is left to pay.
|Lending Partner||Minimum FICO score||Estimated APR|
|660||5.99% – 35.89%*||Apply|
|680||5.99% – 16.09% (with AutoPay)*||Apply|
|580||9.95% – 35.99%*||Apply|
Personal loans for dental work
A personal loan may be your best option. You can get one from a credit union or your local bank, or apply for one online. You’ll find competitive lenders online and the application process is quick and easy.
Personal loans for dental work usually have a fixed interest rate, which is good for your budgeting, because the payment stays the same.
Chances are you’ll need excellent credit to get a personal loan, as they are unsecured. If your credit isn’t good, see whether you can get a co-signer with good credit to help you.
Taking out a personal loan allows you to stretch out your payments over an extended period of time. This is a good way to cushion your budget against the blow of a big dental bill.
Borrow from your 401(k)
If you have a 401(k) retirement savings account, you can borrow from the plan and use the money to fund your dental procedure. You’re essentially borrowing money from yourself, so you don’t need a credit check, and you also don’t end up paying any interest. However, keep in mind that you miss accruing interest on the money when it’s not in your account.
As long as you stay working for the employer through which you have your 401(k), you can take some time to pay it back. If you lose or leave your job, however, you must pay the money back within 60 days. This can be hard to do financially and will most likely cause a hardship.
Choosing financing for your dental procedures that works for you is sure to put a smile on your face in more ways than one. Check out SuperMoney’s Best Personal Loans Reviews and Comparison for the right one for you and your financial situation.