Going to the dentist and finding out you need dental work can be a horrible surprise. On top of toothaches and pain, you also might get walloped with a massive bill. A single root canal can cost up to $2,000.
If you don’t have that much money in the bank, you’ll need a different way to pay for dental work, such as using a personal loan. But can you use a personal loan for dental expenses? Here’s what you need to know about your financing options.
The cost of dental care
A few years ago, I experienced agonizing pain in my front teeth. I ended up needing root canals and crowns — at a cost of over $5,000. I had excellent dental insurance, but my insurer had a $1,500 annual maximum for procedures, so I was responsible for more than $3,500.
I had recently finished graduate school and didn’t have much money in savings, so I couldn’t pay for the dental work on my own. Mercifully, my dentist was willing to work with me to set up a payment plan I could afford. I might not have been able to get the much-needed procedures otherwise.
Situations like mine aren’t uncommon. According to a study by the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Health Policy Institute, nearly 13% of adults between the ages of 19 and 64 reported skipping dental care because of the cost.
Worse, the consequences of skipping dental care are more than cosmetic. You could end up with severe gum disease or infections that require medical care. In fact, the ADA reported that millions of people go to the emergency room because of dental issues each year.
Skipping the dentist and ending up in the emergency room can cost you thousands more in the long run, so it’s a good idea to take care of issues right away.
Can you use a personal loan for dental expenses?
If you need dental work and don’t have the money to cover the cost, one option to consider is taking out a personal loan. Going into debt is almost never a good idea, but when it comes to your health and well-being, it’s worth it.
A personal loan allows you to borrow as much as you need and spread out your payments over several years. You can opt for a longer loan term to make the payments more affordable. But remember that a longer repayment term means you’ll pay back more in interest over the length of the loan.
A personal loan makes sense if you’re working and have good credit. If you meet those requirements, you’re more likely to qualify for a low-interest personal loan.
If you don’t have a great credit score, a loan could be an expensive option. Interest rates on personal loans for people with bad credit can be as high as 199.00%.
3 other dental financing options
Although personal loans can be useful tools, they aren’t for everyone. Whether you have poor credit or no credit at all, a personal loan might not be a viable option for you. If that’s the case, consider these three alternatives to pay for your dental work.
1. Payment plans
Many dentists are willing to work with you if you need extensive dental work. Like my dentist did for me, your dentist might offer you a payment plan, allowing you to spread out your payments over the course of several months rather than paying the full cost upfront.
Even if your dentist doesn’t offer formal payment plans, they might be able to set one up on an individual basis if you ask.
2. Low-interest credit cards
If you have access to a low-interest credit card, such as CareCredit, you can use it to pay for your treatment. With some cards, you’ll have up to 24 months to make payments at 0% interest.
However, make sure you read the fine print before using a credit card. With some, you’ll have to pay interest from the date of the charge if you don’t pay off the balance within the promotional period.
3. Charitable resources
If a dental procedure is unaffordable for you, don’t go without necessary treatments. There are organizations that offer financial assistance to people in need. The following charities provide help to those who need help paying for dental care:
- Tooth Wisdom: Tooth Wisdom is a nonprofit organization that connects older adults with affordable dental care. Click “Find Care” to identify dental schools, clinics, and hygiene programs near you for free or low-cost help.
- Dental Lifeline Network: The Dental Lifeline Network is an organization that connects patients who can’t afford dental procedures with dentists and laboratories that volunteer their services. To find out if you qualify for free care, visit the state programs page.
- America’s ToothFairy: America’s ToothFairy is dedicated to helping children get preventative and corrective dental care. The organization operates the Dental Resource Program, a network of low-cost and free clinics and programs nationwide. To find a clinic near you, visit the charity’s website.
Paying for dental work
Can you use a personal loan for dental expenses? Yes, but it isn’t a good idea for everyone. Before taking on more debt, make sure you consider all your other options so you can save money and avoid paying high interest fees.
Interested in a personal loan?Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Rates (APR)||Loan Amount|
|1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.
Upgrade Bank Disclosures
|7.73% – 29.99%||$1,000 - $50,000|
|6.28% – 14.87%1||$5,000 - $100,000|
|6.87% – 35.97%*||$1,000 - $50,000||Visit Upgrade|
|8.00% – 25.00%||$5,000 - $35,000|
|4.99% – 29.99%||$10,000 - $35,000||Visit FreedomPlus|
|5.99% – 18.99%2||$5,000 - $50,000||Visit Citizens|
|15.49% – 34.49%||$2,000 - $25,000||Visit LendingPoint|
|5.99% – 35.89%||$1,000 - $40,000||Visit LendingClub|
|5.49% – 18.24%||$5,000 - $75,000||Visit Earnest|
|9.95% – 35.99%||$2,000 - $35,000||Visit Avant|