Financing Dental Work for Every Situation

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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 Plans

    Some 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 Plans

    Your 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 Cards

    Medical 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 Loans

    Do 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 Events

    Your 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 Clinics

    Through 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 Programs

    According 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.




This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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What To Expect During a DENTAL VISIT

On your first visit, your dentist will take a full health history. On follow-up visits, if your health status has changed, make sure to tell your dentist. Here’s what you can expect during most trips to the dentist.

  • A Thorough Cleaning – a dental hygienist or dentist will scrape along and below the gum line to remove built-up plaque and tartar that can cause gum disease, cavities, bad breath and other problems. Then he or she will polish and floss your teeth.

  • A Full Dental Examination – your dentist will perform a thorough examination of your teeth, gums and mouth, looking for signs of disease or other problems.

  • X-Rays – X-rays can diagnose problems otherwise unnoticed, such as damage to jawbones, impacted teeth, abscesses, cysts or tumors, and decay between the teeth.