If you're talking about a new car, you can barter with the salesperson. If you're talking about a new house, you can negotiate with the homeowner. But if you're talking about a new smile, there's no haggling with your dentist's office. Even with insurance, remembering to set money aside for your dental bills often slips through your budgetary cracks. But delaying your payments is not a financially healthy option either. Check out how to finance your dental work with these smart and realistic options.
Financing Dental Work for Every Situation
Did you know that 50% of patients pay for their dental service out of pocket? According to the Wisconsin Dental Association, that's the truth. And paying for an entire family's checkups, cleanings, and cavities — the truth can hurt your savings account. While every dental office is different, you should talk to the office manager or financial manager at your dentist to discuss payment options. They can work with your dentist to prioritize your dental needs and speak to you on ways to lower your bill.
There are various forms of financing when it comes to oral health. Some may be offered by your dentist's office and somewhat from third parties. Those include:
- In-Office Benefit Plans
- Do you know if your dentist offers an in-office benefit plan(s)? It's almost like a fan club situation. You'll pay an annual or monthly fee for discounted services (like professional cleanings and X-rays), according to the American Dental Association (ADA).
- Payment Plans
- Probably the most popular route is a simple payment plan with your dentist's office. You'd be simply dividing the total amount owed over several payments, but with interest. Some programs may have an interest-free period, says the ADA. If you like this route, figure out what you can pay per month, with interest.
- Medical Credit Cards
- Similar to most credit cards, but they can only be used for medical expenses, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And then it's very similar to a payment plan where there could be an interest-free period. Be sure you double-check the interest and terms carefully if you go down this path.
- Credit Union Loans
- When it comes to dental care loans, credit unions usually offer lower loan rates and reduced fees. According to the National Credit Union Administration, they're a smart alternative to your typical bank loan.
In addition to financing your dental services, you can also seek out lower-priced dental care. And there are a few ways to do so:
- State Dental Association Events
- Did you know you may be able to get free dental care for fillings, extractions, or even root canals? You could. Check out your state dental association and the events they organize. The California Dental Association Foundation, for example, looks for dental professionals to offer free or discount care to patients across the state.
- Low-Cost Clinics
- The Health Resources & Services Administration has clinics across the country that can provide low or no costs treatments. You can search for a clinic nearby you with their Find a Health Center tool.
- Dental and Hygiene Programs
- According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, colleges and universities across the country have schools of dentistry and dental hygiene that offer typical dental and dental hygiene services at a significant discount. Experienced and/or working dental professionals supervise 3rd or 4th-year dental students as they provide dental care to patients on a budget.
With dental care comes dental costs. So make sure you're aware of all your financial and care options before you go in for dental or dental hygiene treatment. The smartest way to pay your dental bills is to spend less — and that's by adequately brushing and flossing. A happy and healthy mouth is the best bargain on the market.
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.