What You Need To Know Before Getting a Dental Loan

Financing Dental Work: What’s the Best Option?

Close-up of dentist's angled mirror
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Going to the dentist can be very expensive if you end up finding out that you need unexpected work. Even when dental insurance covers some costs, you might have to pay for some procedures or costs out of pocket. In the U.S., 1 in 3 adults has no dental benefit coverage. When you consider that the cost of a filling can range anywhere from $100 to a few thousand dollars, finding out you have more work to do might leave you searching for assistance and a way to finance dental costs.

According to the American Dental Association, dental care has the highest level of cost barrier when compared to other medical services. Fortunately, there are options to help you pay for unexpected dental costs; one of them is a dental loan.

What Is a Dental Loan?

A dental loan is a type of medical loan to help you finance dental work. A dental loan is a personal loan specifically used for any kind of dental procedure you need (or want) to get. A dental loan could be used for medically necessary work or for cosmetic dental work. Dental loans are not secured loans, which means you will not have to put up collateral, but your credit history and ability to pay the loan will be analyzed.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA) Health Policy Institute, 40% of adults who avoid the dentist do so because of cost.

Avoiding the dentist and not getting medical care when you need it can lead to more-serious long-term problems that cost more. If the reason for avoiding the dentist is a financial one, looking into a dental loan may be a really good solution.

How To Get a Dental Loan

Getting a dental loan is similar to how you get other types of personal loans. Your credit score will be referenced, and you will have to fill out a loan application. As part of your loan application, you will have to state how much money you would like to borrow to pay for your dental work; once approved, you will have different payment options, such as monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly payments. You can apply for a dental loan for any amount you need for your dental work; the limit will be subject to the reason you need the loan.

Qualifying Procedures

Most work you can get from a dental professional will likely qualify for a dental loan. Some examples of procedures people get a dental loan for include:

  • Amounts not covered by dental insurance
  • Wisdom-tooth removal
  • Root canals
  • Cavity fillings
  • Crowns and bridges
  • Gum surgery
  • Dental procedures following an accident
  • Braces, retainers, or dentures
  • Teeth whitening
  • Other dental services you may be having trouble paying for upfront or would like to finance

How To Compare Dental Loan Options

The most important aspect when looking at your options for a dental loan is understanding how much you will be paying for the financing, and what the terms or conditions of repayment are.

Questions To Ask Before Applying

  • What is the interest rate?
  • Can you pay the loan back anytime without penalty?
  • Is there an interest-free period? Some lenders will offer low interest or interest-free period, which could help you pay your loan off faster and save on interest charges.
  • How long before you can access the money?
  • Is there a restriction or maximum amount the lender will give for the dental loan?

If you have an HSA or FSA, some dental procedures may qualify. This would allow you to withdraw the funds to cover your dental costs from your HSA tax-free. This might help you avoid having to take out a loan. Learn more about HSAs and how they work.

Other Options To Finance Dental Work

Dental loans may have some advantages, but before you take a dental loan, be sure and check these options that can also help finance dental work:

  • Get financing from your dentist: Many dentist offices have in-house financing options or payment plans. If your dentist does not offer to finance, you may want to check around with other dental offices.
  • Use a line of credit or charge the cost to your credit card: If you have credit available, compare the interest rate of your existing credit with your dental loan options. Whichever form of financing gives you the least cost is the best. 
  • Consider getting an overdraft: Depending on the amount of money you need for your dental work, you may have an easier time getting an overdraft on your bank account.
  • Dental credit cards: Some dentist offices may have dental credit card applications available. Be sure and check the small print for the payment conditions and interest rates.
  • Personal loans: Although a dental loan is a type of personal loan, you could always look into a regular personal loan through your bank or another lender.
  • Medical credit cards: Some medical credit cards offer favorable interest rates and interest-free periods. Learn more about medical credit cards and medical loan options.

The Bottom Line

There are pros and cons to getting a dental loan. One advantage of a dental loan is that the money will be given to you directly to manage. This can also be a disadvantage if you are not careful to use the money for the original purpose of the loan.

When comparing the pros and cons of dental loans, consider that any time you apply for a loan, it can impact your credit rating. To make the best decision, learn more about how borrowing and loans impact your credit before you make your decision.

At the end of the day, dental work is not something to put off indefinitely. Getting financing that allows you to get your dental work done sooner rather than later will help you save on future costs and keep healthy.