It's no secret that dental care can be costly. You might think that waiting is your only option, but waiting can sometimes make a problem worse — and even more expensive. Here are some practical ways of financing dental work and ways you can find discounted treatment.
Working With Your Dental Provider
According to the Wisconsin Dental Association, 50 percent of dental patients pay out of pocket. If you fall into this category, checkups and cleanings, along with treatment for cavities or other conditions, can add up quickly.
If you're in need of several different treatments, you'll want to consult with either the office manager or payment specialist at your dental office. They can work with both you and your dentist to examine your payment options. This can include determining what work should be prioritized and reviewing the types of crowns or fillings available for your individual needs.
Financing Dental Care
Financing can help you pay what you can afford, and there are several payment options you can discuss with your dentist and family members:
In-Office Benefit PlansSome practices offer discount or benefit plans. These plans are not unlike insurance, where you pay a monthly or annual fee to receive discounted services. The American Dental Association (ADA) notes that in most cases, preventive treatments, such as X-rays, cleanings and exams, are usually included in your plan at no additional cost.
Payment PlansYour dental provider might also offer payment plans for treatment, which allow you to pay over a period of time. It's important to look closely at the plan's interest rates. Some plans might have an interest-free period, but then begin charging thereafter, explains the ADA. Determine what you can pay per month and be sure to calculate interest, as well.
Medical Credit CardsMedical credit cards work similarly to any kind of credit card. The difference is that they can only be used to pay for medical costs with providers who accept these types of cards, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Like payment plans, these cards commonly offer deferred interest over a period of months, so that you can pay off the balance without paying for interest. You may not need to make any payments until the interest is due. Consider the terms closely — especially the interest rate — before opening one of these cards.
Credit Union LoansDo you belong to a credit union? Applying for a credit card or loan through a credit union might get you a lower interest rate. The National Credit Union Administration explains that credit unions generally provide reduced fees and lower loan rates, which might help you finance dental work.
Finding Discounted Care
Another way of getting the care you need at a cost that works for you is finding opportunities for discounted dental work. Here are some you might consider:
State Dental Association EventsYour state dental association may organize events with free and low-cost care. The California Dental Association Foundation, for instance, offers care from volunteer dental professionals at events across the state. Patients can receive free treatments such as fillings, extractions and even root canals.
Low-Cost ClinicsThrough the Health Resources & Services Administration, clinics can provide an array of treatments at a sliding scale or at no cost based on your needs. The administration's Find a Health Center tool can help you locate a nearby clinic.
Dental and Hygiene ProgramsAccording to the University of California San Francisco School of Dentistry, the cost of dental care in a university clinic is 40 to 60 percent less than a private office. Under supervision from faculty, dental students in their final years of education can provide fillings, crowns and root canals, among other treatments. You can search for programs near you through the Commission on Dental Accreditation.
If you plan on financing dental work, take time to consider your budget and what you can afford. Researching all of your options makes a healthy and pain-free smile reachable.