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Full of Fillings but Not Full of Cash? 4 Tips to Afford Quality Dental Care

Dentist treating patient teeth with assistant

One in three people in America aged 50-64 say they are embarrassed by their teeth. Considering how closely dental health has been tied to overall health, that’s a big problem. 

An even bigger problem is that one in four people lack any form of dental insurance according to the National Poll on Aging. It’s not just the pre-retirement group that is without insurance.

There’s a real disconnect between the number of people who need quality dental care and those who can afford it.

Or is there?

Dental insurance is not the only option for those who can’t afford to pay for the dental work they need in full at the time of service. Here are some options that can help lessen the pocketbook ache if not the toothache.

Dental Financing

Chances are you aren’t the only one asking your dentist about payment options when they recommend procedures. Whether you have a cavity or two, need a root canal, or are deciding between an implant or a bridge, the costs add up quickly.

Many dental clinics either offer their own in-house financing options or will refer you to an outside partner for financing. This financing is in the form of an unsecured loan. Instead of relying on collateral to back the loan (like your car for a car loan) the lender is relying on your credit rating to gauge his repayment risk and the interest rate you are likely to pay.

Dental Credit Cards

This is another relatively new option. You can use it over and over, just as you would a normal credit card, however you can only use it for the services listed for that particular card.  

You can apply for a dental credit card before you even visit a dentist. Then you simply use your card to pay for any health or wellness treatment at any provider enrolled in that credit card’s program. 


If you’re employed and are eligible for health insurance through your employer, you might want to check and see if they offer a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account.

These accounts allow you to set aside money from each paycheck on a pre-tax basis to pay for any health-related expenses (including dental) that might come up during the year. 

Be careful though. With an FSA, any monies that you put aside that are unused by the end of the year are lost. Those amounts roll over with an HSA. 

Dental Savings

When you compare the costs of normal dental procedures to the cost of dental insurance premiums, you see that a lot of the “routine” dental work that you may want to have done each year is actually self-funded. 

For example, let’s say two routine cleanings with x-rays each year cost a total of $300.00. If you pay a $36 dental insurance premium each month, you have actually paid for those cleanings and more over the course of the year. 

Quality Dental Care Is a Must

Regardless of which of these payment options are open to you, or appeal to you the most, the bottom line is simple. You don’t have to put off getting the quality dental care you need because you may not have the means to pay off your bill in full. With a little planning, you can turn your dental woes into a beautiful smile in no time.

Would like to learn how you can apply “underground” payment techniques to other major life experiences? Check out this article on how to pay for a lawyer to get you started. 

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