Can you get financing for dental procedures?

Even if you have dental insurance, you still might need to finance dental work, especially for major procedures.
Even if you have dental insurance, you still might need to finance dental work, especially for major procedures.

Twice-yearly cleanings. X-rays. Fillings. Braces. Root canals. Veneers. Keeping up with dental work is necessary for overall oral health, but it can get very, very expensive. If you're lucky enough to just get away with a cavity now and then, you may not have yet experienced the sticker shock of major dental work. Taking care of your pearly whites can run from a couple hundred dollars for a filling to thousands of dollars (per tooth!) for porcelain veneers or for a series of dental procedures such as a bridge.

We complain about the cost of dental work, but there are good reasons behind the high price tags. Dentists are professionals who have gone through years of education, training and professional development, and their specialized equipment, staff and general operating costs are significant [source: Butler].

While many people save money to cover medical expenses, dental work often isn't included in those savings. So if you have to have a dental procedure but can't pay for it immediately, can you finance it? Luckily, the answer is yes. You can finance dental work, for both necessary procedures such as cavities and root canals, as well as cosmetic dental work such as dentures or teeth whitening.

Dental work, whether it's part of a routine visit or a specialized procedure, can include [source: Colgate]:

  • Twice-a-year cleanings
  • X-rays
  • Fillings for cavities
  • Crowns and bridges
  • Tooth extraction, including wisdom teeth
  • Root canal treatments
  • Tooth implants
  • Treatment for gingivitis and periodontal disease

Cosmetic dental procedures include the following:

  • Porcelain veneers
  • Teeth whitening
  • Cosmetic gum surgery
  • Tooth bonding
  • Dentures
  • Tooth reshaping
  • Invisible braces

The process of financing dental work begins with getting a thorough estimate of how much your procedure will cost. Your dentist should provide you a line-by-line breakdown of services, including X-rays, anesthesia and time for the work itself, as well as any medications or equipment you'll need after the procedure. Costs vary from doctor to doctor, and many times, you'll have to use a specialist for certain procedures, such as an oral surgeon for a root canal or an orthodontist for braces.

If you have dental insurance, call your provider to see how much of the cost will be covered. Your insurance company should give you a close estimate of how much you'll owe out of pocket, but generally, cosmetic dentistry is not covered by insurance. Your dentist can appeal to your provider, though, if a cosmetic procedure is necessary.

Finally, check your credit report. If you have a low credit score or unstable credit history, certain financing options may not be available to you.

Now that you know financing is an option, read on to learn about the types available.