If you need work done on your teeth, chances are you’re already not all that happy to go to the dentist. If you’re like most Americans, you are scared or at least intimidated by the sounds of the drill, as well as all the other signals that you pick up that indicate discomfort if not outright pain. Welcome to the club.
Unfortunately, it’s not just the physical discomfort that people are afraid of. Make no mistake about it. Visiting a dentist for significant work like implants can be very painful as far as your bank account is concerned. These procedures are not cheap. While physical pain can easily be taken care of, financial pain is a whole other ball of wax.
Thankfully, you can lessen some of the financial impact of your major dental procedure. Maybe you need an implant or two, or you need extensive surgery, you can eliminate a huge chunk of your costs through dental insurance.
Now for the bad news. According to dental insurance industry surveys, most Americans do not have a dental plan. That’s right. We’re talking 114,000,000 fellow Americans who don’t stand to save money the next time they need dental work done.
Now you may be thinking that you only need to sign up for a plan and you would be good to go. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. According to a survey done by fair health, people who do get dental coverage are not fully able to comfortably minimize the cost of their dental visits if they need crowns or implants done. In fact, according to the survey, only 50% of the costs of more costly procedures are covered by the typical dental plan.
Don’t give up hope. There are other options.
Thankfully, there are other ways you can get the money for your dental work. You can take out a loan so you can get crowns and implants put in. You can still get these loans even if your credit is not all that hot. In fact, there are dental loan programs offered by several companies that don’t require a credit check. How about that?
I’m going to list several common costly dental procedures and pair them up with available financing options. I’m also going to share with you some tips that can help you find the most optimal financing package for your dental work.
Dental procedures and their average costs
Tooth extraction: around $150 per tooth
Porcelain crowns: over $1,000 per crown
Root canal work: over $900
Cavity work: around $150-$200 per filling
Dental sealant: around $50 per tooth
Dental cleaning: children- around $60 adults- around $80
That’s quite a handful, right? You’d be surprised how financially painful a trip to the dentist can be. While you can probably get the fear and shock you get when you hear the dental drills, it’s harder to shake off the financial shock. Thankfully there are several financial options you can take advantage of. Depending on who your dental service provider is and where you’re located, some of these options may be easy to find or you would have to look online for providers of these options.
Sign up for a payment plan with your dentist
The easiest way to finance your dental work is to talk to the business manager of the dental office or your dentist directly. Many dental offices understand that the typical patient can have a tough time paying for costly procedures.
Instead of just demanding that you use some sort of dental plan or insurance, they also offer their own flexible payment program. In fact, quite a number of dentists are perfectly okay with you paying some portion of your total package price up front and making monthly payments for the rest of the amount due. Since these are completely in house arrangements, there’s usually no interest charged. How’s that for awesome?
As you probably already know, if you’ve taken out any kind of loan, it’s not really the principle that gets your goat. It’s the interest. In fact, if you take out a big enough loan, you will be paying for a long period of time for the loan interest instead of the meat and potatoes of your loan itself. That comes later. When you are lucky enough to get dental work done by a dentist who offers in house financing, take it.
Now for the downside. Usually, in house payment arrangements are offered for services that require you to keep coming back to the dental office. For example, if you got braces put in, you have no choice but to show up to your dentist to get your braces adjusted. This gives your dental professional some measure of confidence that you will come back to pay your bills.
Unfortunately, in house payment plans that give you a tremendous amount of flexibility through multiple payments spread out over time are usually not available for one time dental work. For example, if you just need a cleaning, chances are your dentist won’t put you on a plan. After all, once he or she provides the service, you’re done. The next time you would need to come back is probably next year or if you’re pushing it, the year after that.
Credit card payments are usually available
If you’re scoping out which dentist to provide certain dental procedures, one of the key questions that you need to ask as you call around is whether they have credit card facilities. This shouldn’t be a problem because modern credit card terminals are wireless, so they are very portable, it doesn’t really take much to set them up, the dentist just simply has to fill out some forms with the payment processing company or bank and they would be sent one of this mobile credit card terminals.
There’s a high chance if you live in a fairly large metropolitan area in the US that the vast majority of the dentists you contact will have a credit card terminal. You can comfortably and easily put your dental work on your card and pay it off over an extended period of time. Sounds awesome, right?
Well, not quite. Don’t jump in with both feet. You shouldn’t just go through your wallet or purse and whip out the very first credit card you come across. That would be a one way ticket to a long and possibly painful repayment process. Why? You might pick your highest interest credit card.
To play this game right, you need to apply for credit cards that have very low interest rates or have 0 promotional interest rate periods. Those are the types of cards you should be using if you’re going to be charging services or buying products that cost over a thousand dollars. This way, interest costs don’t have to burn a hole through your pocket as you pay off your debt.
Look at the APR or annual percentage rate of the credit cards you’re choosing from and obviously, you should pick the lowest one. Ideally, you should sign up for cards that offer a 0 percent promotional interest period.
There are many of these cards available. You should check out online resources that list many different credit cards you can apply for online. The more websites you check, the higher the chance you will find a card that will not charge you interest for quite a long period of time. These cards are definitely worth tracking down.
Medical credit cards
The US financial industry has many different financial products available. Banks typically issue a wide range of credit cards that cover many different types of situations. One specialized type of credit card is a medical credit card. These credit cards are designed specifically to finance any expenses you incur regarding your health. They are broad enough cover not just hospitalization and other directly related health expenses, but also dental work.
The great thing about these specialized cards is that they normally carry a 0 percent interest rate. Now don’t get too excited. This 0 percent period doesn’t last forever. Usually, the maximum time frame you can get is around a year and a half or 18 months.
Now, keep in mind that this 0 percent period usually varies depending on how much a debt you take on. Generally, if you’re going to be taking in a little amount of debt, your interest free period is much longer. The bank or financial institution issuing the check isn’t really out much money because of the small principal amount involved.
Now, if you are taking out a huge medical loan, let’s say $5,000, you can bet that your interest free period is going to be much shorter because the bank has to make money.
Now here comes the bad news. You have to use these cards if you are sure you can pay them off within the interest free period. If you are in any way, shape or form unsure, you might want to hold off on these cards because if you don’t pay them off within the 0 interest period, some cards actually charge you interest for the whole interest free period. Talk about a whammy and an unpleasant surprise.
Read that fine print. You have to understand that financial institutions and banks are in business to make money. They are not charities. You may have this nifty medical credit card with 0 interest, but look at the fine print. Make sure you complete your payments within that 0 interest period, otherwise, you may be in for quite a rude shock.
Take out a personal loan
Another approach you could take is to go online and take out a personal loan for the dental work you’re thinking of getting done. Now, of course this makes sense only if you are going to be taking out a large amount. In other words, this is not a financial payment option that you should immediately jump to when you’re thinking of getting any kind of dental work done. You should reserve this only for big ticket items.
The great thing about personal loans is you get to access a national online market place where lenders compete to lend you money. This means that if you have great credit, lenders would fall over themselves outbidding each other in terms of low interest rates. If you play your cards right, you might get a much lower rate for your personal loans than with the credit card.
Make no mistake. Credit cards have historically charged quite a bit of money and that’s why you should only use credit cards that have 0 percent introductory rates. There are many online platforms where people looking for personal loans can ask for a loan and the potential lenders would bid on your loan.
Another piece of good news is that normally for this type of loan, the interest rate is fixed. If you’ve ever taken out an adjustable rate loan, you know that it can lead to rude surprises. Adjustable rates makes sense if you know for sure you’re going to be paying off your loan sooner rather than later. But if your loan repayment period takes longer that you originally planned, you might be hit with quite a huge surge in interest rates.
You don’t get that unpleasant surprise when you take out a personal loan for dental work. The other drawback to this financing option is the fact that you probably would need a really nice credit score. Otherwise, don’t expect much of an interest rate discount compared to credit cards.
Take out a loan against your 401k
Assuming that you have a 401k with your employer and this is a big assumption because not all American employees are enrolled in such a program, you might have a ready source of alternative financing.
401k is a private retirement plan where your employer would match whatever contribution you put into the program. Once you put money into your program, you can then redirect that money, along with your employers contribution, to stocks or other approved securities.
The goal is to put away enough money for your retirement and invest it wisely using your 401k so that you would have a lot more money when you are ready to retire. Well, most 401k programs allow participants to borrow against the assets they already accumulated.
Talk to your human resources specialist for forms on how to take out a loan. It’s really important to make sure that you’re clear on how long you repay because even though this is just a form of you lending money to yourself, you are forgoing any appreciation in the value in the 401k amount you borrowed as long as the loan is active. You might be missing out on your money growing as fast as it could.
Keep the financing tips above in mind when looking to get dental work. If you need dental implants, please understand that you don’t have to suffer permanently if you don’t have money right now. There are many different alternative payment options available to you. You just have to be a little bit creative. You have to be curious as to the different interest rates involved as well as the specific sets of advantages and disadvantages these different financing options bring to the table.