You do your best to take care of your mouth. You brush and floss every day but sometimes, despite your best efforts, an accident can occur. You might take a hit to the face while playing football with your friends. You might have an infection in your tooth. You could be in an auto accident and suffer facial trauma. Dental emergencies can be expensive but, there are ways to pay.
1. Pay Up Front
If you are able to do so, pay upfront for your procedure. Most dental offices are willing to offer discounts to those who pay their bill in this manner. In fact, many offices will take off up to 5% of the bill’s total for advance payment. Paying your total in cash may also earn you a discount. Cash helps dental offices avoid processing or third-party costs, and they may be willing to pass some of the savings on to you.
2. In-Office Financing
If you cannot pay for your procedure on the spot, or even in full, ask your dentist (or their billing office) if you can work out a payment plan with them. You will most likely have to be able to pay a portion of the bill before you leave the office. The remainder of the bill is then divided into monthly payments, to be paid off in a set timeframe. If you make the minimum payments, and pay the total off in a short amount of time (usually no longer than 18 months) you may be able to avoid interest payments. Longer payment plans often mean agreeing to a low-interest payment plan.
3. Third Party Installment Loans/Payment Plans
If your dentist’s office doesn’t offer in-office financing, ask them if they offer dental financing through a 3rd party vendor. This option works similarly to an unsecured loan that is taken out with your dentist. You do not need to put up any collateral. Many plans offer no interest for up to two years if you stick to their repayment plan. However, if you have poor credit, you may have a shorter repayment period and higher monthly payments. You will most likely also have higher interest rates.
4. Personal Loans
If your dentist’s office doesn’t offer any type of financing at all, or you do not qualify, you could look into taking out a personal loan. There are a few ways in which you could go about this. Banks and credit unions offer unsecured loans that require no collateral. The interest rates can often be over 10%. Secured loans have lower interest rates, but require collateral. Or, you can check out a marketplace loan. Marketplace loans are funded by investors, and the interest rate, and fees, vary by your credit score.
5. Dental Discount Plans
Dental discount plans are becoming an increasingly popular option for those who don’t have dental insurance. These plans don’t require any long paperwork and are processed in a relatively short amount of time. For a yearly fee, you can start saving money for all of your dental needs. If you are applying at the time of your emergency, you can request expedited processing. Once you receive your card, all you have to do is present it at your dentist’s office to get a discounted price on your treatment.
6. Government Assistance
If you are low-income, you may qualify for state or federal assistance, such as Medicaid or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Plan). Participation varies from state to state, so you will need to check with your dentist’s office or local county office to learn more.
7. Health Insurance
If you don’t have dental insurance, but do have health insurance, you may be able to use that health insurance plan to pay for your dental emergency. If your dental work is deemed as medically necessary, your procedure could be covered in this manner. This often includes care resulting from non-biting accidents, certain diseases or other treatments. For instance, if you need oral and maxillofacial surgery as a result of a car accident, medical insurance would most likely cover the cost.
If you are experiencing a dental emergency, don’t delay treatment because you think you can’t afford it. In the event of an emergency, speak with your dentist to learn what your options are.