In this article, we'll discuss the best ways to pay for dental work, including more expensive procedures like dental implants, crowns, and dentures. Lower the cost of your treatment by getting dental insurance or traveling abroad, or spread the cost into more manageable payments with a payment plan.
Learn about healthcare finance in the United States including:
- Dental insurance
- Dental savings plans
- Dental loans
- Dental payment plans
- Dental tourism
Keep reading about the best ways to pay for dental work.
Dental insurance can help you pay for a wide range of dental work — from regular cleanings to restorative services. Finding the right plan can be difficult, but Dentalinsurance.com can help. They give easily-digestible information on how to choose the right plan, plus you can speak with a helper over the phone if you need guidance.
Type in your zip code and your date of birth to see the best dental insurance plans in your state. Compare the plans, check the details, and enroll right away.
Table of contents
Best ways to pay for dental work
1. Dental insurance
Many Americans don't buy a dental insurance plan because they aren't aware of the options available.
Dental insurance is one of the most common dental financing options in the US and can help with the cost of dental work by giving you a way to pay your expenses (or at least a portion of them) in predictable monthly payments.
Most policies have annual limits, so don't expect your insurance to cover all your costs every time you see the dentist, especially if you have poor oral health and often need dental work.
When choosing an insurance plan, depending on your personal needs, the following are some of the things you'll want to know if your plan offers:
- Emergency treatment cover
- Treatment of pre-existing conditions
- Dental implant insurance
- Cosmetic dentistry coverage
- Oral cancer coverage
- Hospital stay allowance
When choosing what type of dental insurance is right for you, it is crucial to take into consideration your needs; for example, if you need urgent dental care, it's no good taking out a new insurance policy with a 3-month waiting period, so make sure to choose a plan that has no waiting period.
Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Savings Accounts are untaxed savings accounts that your employer coverage might offer — these may also go towards dental care.
Read more about the different dental financing options and things to consider in our full guide to dental insurance in the US.
And if dental insurance simply isn't an option, you can read about how to find a cheap dentist without insurance.
2. Dental discount plans
Dental discount plans (also known as dental savings plans) are like insurance except that there's no annual deductible or maximum and no waiting period once you enroll. You pay your dentist a membership fee, and in exchange, you can get discounted dental work.
These are especially handy with cosmetic dental work, like if you're looking for cheap veneers or teeth whitening, since these treatments aren't covered by insurance.
Ask your dentist if they offer a discount plan, or learn more about how to find one near you in our dental savings plan article.
You can also search for dental discount plans on Dentalinsurance.com. This online dental insurance marketplace offers a wide range of both insurance and discount plans.
Just enter your zip code and your date of birth, and you'll get to compare the best dental discount plans in your state. You can then enroll directly from the site.
And if you need help along the way, there's a team of licensed, friendly agents standing by to help you through the process. You can speak with one of them by calling 888-626-0057.
3. Loans or credit cards
One of the dental financing options you may want to consider is a loan or credit card. You apply for these just as you would with any other big purchase, like a car or a new kitchen.
You'll need to research different lenders to find one that suits your financial situation. Read more about how to choose a dental loan or credit card in our complete guide. We also have an article on loans for cosmetic dentistry.
Paying for dental work with a credit card allows you to make repayments as and when it suits you. However, credit card interest rates can be very high, and if you only repay the minimum amount each month, it will end up costing you an awful lot.
Some cards have an introductory 0% interest rate, which is a good option if you're confident you can repay the full amount before the special offer ends. Be careful with dental credit cards, as if you don't pay off the card within the 0% interest rate introductory period, the rate may double, dating back to when the credit contract began.
With a loan, you borrow money from a lender and use it to pay your dentist in full. You might get a small discount for paying in cash up-front; it's worth asking.
Interest rates vary considerably depending on the amount you borrow, for how long, and what your credit rating is like. A personal loan may or may not be more cost-effective than a payment plan, so take the time to compare your options.
If you want to search for personal loans, SuperMoney's loan search engine makes it easy to compare personal dental loans from a large network. You may even be able to find providers who offer dental finance with no credit check. You can click the button below to get started.
4. Dental payment plans
Many dental clinics offer their patients the option to pay for their treatment in installments with a payment plan. This type of dental financing involves paying a certain amount up-front and then splitting the remainder into smaller monthly installments.
Payment plans can be used to finance dental implants or other expensive prosthetic treatments. You might also consider this dental financing option if you need several fillings or root canals and can't afford the full cost up-front.
Many companies offer dental finance options in the US. In most cases, dentists have an agreement in place with one particular provider. You'll find that each provider has different terms and conditions, and some may have special offers like 0% interest or no sign-up fee.
Before taking out a payment plan with your dentist, be sure you understand:
- Interest rates: How much interest will you be charged in total?
- Admin fees: Is there a charge to apply or sign up for the plan?
- Early/late repayment fees: Do any charges apply if you're late with repayment or if you want to pay off the finance sooner than planned?
- Credit checks: Does the company run a credit check when you apply? If yes, are you likely to meet their criteria?
You can read more about all of these considerations and the different types of payment plans for dental care.
In the video below, you can hear one dentist describe how payment plans work in his office:
5. Dental tourism
One way to save significantly on expensive treatments like implants, veneers, and crowns is to travel to another country where dentistry is cheaper.
You may be wary of this idea at first, but countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, Hungary, Poland, and Spain have well-developed dental tourism industries with world-class dental facilities, offering prices 50-70% lower than in the US. It's a popular option, with the global dental tourism market valued at 5.7 billion in 2022.
It's important to take into consideration what work you need to be done. For instance, if you don't require much work, going across the border to Mexico will be much more cost-effective than flying to Europe when you consider the combined cost of your flights, accommodation, and treatment.
If you need a lot of treatment, however, you may find that your costs will still be cut considerably even if you fly across the Atlantic. You could venture somewhere like Thailand or Turkey and enjoy an exotic holiday while you're there.
Of course, you shouldn't just jump on a plane and visit the first clinic that offers you a good deal. It's important to carefully research your choices before getting affordable dental work overseas.
To discover more about the best countries to visit and things to consider before you book, read our dental tourism guide. We talk about dental tourism in Turkey (Istanbul and Izmir), Thailand, Spain, Mexico, and more.
If you want help finding a quality clinic abroad, you can get help from Medical Tourism Corporation. They are experts in selecting reputable clinics abroad, and put a strong emphasis on customer service and facilitate the process of going abroad for dental care.
Fill in your details below for a free quote, and you'll receive a callback promptly.
You can also have a look at other sites that claim to offer similar services — for one example, read our Dental Departures reviews.
Other dental financing options
While some people can pay thousands of dollars for private access to a dentist and specialty care, most of us are stuck wondering how we're going to foot the bill for a medically necessary procedure, and surveys show that the general attitude toward the cost of dental care is negative.
Going to the dentist isn't cheap, and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 41% of Americans have medical or dental debt, which is why finding ways to pay for your dental work is so important.
If you are eligible to receive benefits from Medicaid, and can't afford dental work, then your children will receive limited but free dental care. This care must at least include:
- Relief of pain and infections
- Restoration of teeth
- Maintenance of dental health
In some states, Medicaid dental financing extends to adults who can also receive limited free dental care.
Pregnant women may also receive dental benefits under Medicaid, while children may be covered under another program called CHIP.
Check out this article on Medicaid dental coverage to learn more.
It also has information for seniors on Medicare. If you aren't on Medicare, but you think you may like a supplemental plan anyways, you can read more about these here.
Additionally, adults and children with disabilities who receive Medicaid benefits may struggle to find dental offices that can accommodate their needs. Dentists are required to provide referrals to offices that provide dental care for people with disabilities.
Dental schools offer discounted and maybe even free care. The work is performed by trained students who need real-world experience before going off on their own. This is a safe way to receive lower-cost dental care, as licensed dentists always supervise treatment.
Free dental clinics
Free dental clinics may be one-off charity events or clinics that offer free or sliding-scale care based on your income.
You can find free clinics in your area by going to the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics Find a Clinic page.
How to finance dental work based on treatment type
Veneers on finance
Dental veneers are almost never covered by insurance or Medicaid.
If you want to get veneers to improve the appearance of your smile as part of a free dental makeover, you'll need to pay for private treatment or find an insurance plan that includes this service, often with a much higher premium.
Veneers can cost anywhere from $250 to $2,500 each, depending on the type, with porcelain veneers being the most expensive. If you want to fix several teeth or a whole jaw, you might need to get financing for your veneers
Insurance rarely covers cosmetic veneers, but you might consider getting treatment abroad at a clinic specializing in cosmetic treatments for overseas patients.
Braces on finance
However, there are some caveats to this. You can learn more in our article that talks about whether Medicaid covers Invisalign.
On the upside, this opens up your choices for better aesthetics, for example, with Invisalign, clear braces, or lingual braces. On the downside, you'll be paying thousands of dollars for your treatment.
Plenty of dentists offer orthodontic financing to make braces cheaper. You can also find orthodontic insurance plans to add on to your dental or health insurance. These plans cover part of the price of braces and associated costs, and in some cases might even provide some reimbursement for clear aligners. Read more about Invisalign insurance here.
Depending on your situation, you may be able to find low-cost or free braces. Read more about nonprofits that provide free braces here.
Dental implants on finance
By far, the most expensive type of routine dental work is implants. With a price tag anywhere between $1,500 and $6,000 for a single implant in the US, and some clinics charging much more, it's not surprising that many people need to explore dental implant finance options.
Although there are some places that claim to offer shockingly low prices, like $399 implants, these offers are simply too good to be true.
Some insurance policies make an allowance for implants, but this probably won't cover the full cost. You might choose to travel overseas for cheaper implants or get more affordable dentures while you save up for your treatment.
A dental financing option such as a loan or payment plan, especially when combined with another strategy, can make implants much more attainable.
Cosmetic Dentistry Grants
Cosmetic Dentistry Grants is a program that provides assistance with funding some dental procedures.
If you are interested in this option, you must be able to :
- Pay for all x-rays associated with the initial assessment
- Pay for all treatments needed to restore your oral health before starting the program
- Fund all remaining expenses not paid for by the program
If you cannot pay for your treatment with a grant, a loan or credit card may be a better option. Read our dental implants grants article for more information about options like this.
When you need to find ways to pay for your dental work, there are various options available, including dental insurance, dental discount plans, dental loans, and dental tourism.
You may also be eligible for federally-funded insurance like Medicaid, or if you are a person with disabilities or a senior, you'll want to check your eligibility for Medicare benefits.
How can I get dental implants with bad credit?
You can still get dental implants with bad credit. First you should look into your options for dental insurance, or find out if Medicaid in your state covers dentistry for adults.
If insurance isn't an option, talk to your dentist about a payment plan, or consider going to a dental school for low-cost or even free treatment.
What is the best way to pay for dental work?
You have options, but the best way for you to finance dental work depends on your financial resources, your credit score, and your insurance eligibility, among other things.
If you have limited financial resources and can't afford insurance, dental schools, nonprofits and dental plans may be some of your best options.
How do you pay for expensive dental work?
Pay for expensive dental work by finding a dental loan, taking out a dental insurance plan, finding a dental savings plan, or paying for your insurance in installments. In some cases, you can also travel abroad.
Nytimes.com: In Pandemic, More are Paying for Direct Access to Their Doctors. Consulted 24th February 2023.
Kff.org: Health Care Debt in the US: The Broad Consequences of Medical and Dental Bills. Consulted 24th February 2023.
NIDCR: Finding dental care. Consulted 14th February 2023.
Grandviewresearch.com: Dental Tourism Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report by Service (Dental Implants, Orthodontics), by Provider (Hospitals, Dental Clinics), bu Region (Europe, North America, Asia Pacific) and Segment Forecasts, 2023-2030. Consulted 16th March 2023.