Dental Financing: What Are Your Options?

First Republic Bank
February 2, 2021

For busy professionals, staying on top of dental health is a must, even if it’s tempting to put off a visit to the dentist or a more complicated dental procedure. In fact, almost 40% of adults avoid going to the dentist just because of high up-front medical costs.

And this is particularly true if you need to have considerable work done, such as a root canal or orthodontics. Many of the more expensive dental procedures can cost anywhere between $2,000 to $4,000, depending on your needs. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services found that the average cost of most dental treatments increased by 23% from 1996 to 2015.

Even high earners with sizeable savings might wonder what their dental financing options are, and how to prioritize dental care among all their other personal and professional obligations.

The good news is that a personal line of credit can help make the cost of dental work more affordable. Financing your dental work through a personal line of credit can help you get the dental care you need now, with flexible access to funds to cover a wide range of personal expenses that life may throw your way. Plus, a personal line of credit can help stabilize own month-to-month cash flow, which can make it easier to budget smartly and reach your financial goals faster, whether it’s refinancing your car or paying off your student loans.

Choosing the best dental financing option for your unique needs is the best way to make sure you can keep smiling after your dental work. Find out the key considerations as you're planning the best choice for your dental health — and your wallet.

What are some of the benefits of dental financing?

Dental bills and other medical expenses can give most people sticker shock, especially when many procedures require upfront payment. Those with robust dental plans may still find themselves in situations where procedures aren’t covered. And even for avid savers with enough cash on hand to pay for those up-front expenses, dental and medical bills can detract from achieving other personal finance needs or goals.

Thankfully, financing dental bills through a personal line of credit can offer flexible access to funds over a set draw period. With a personal line of credit, you can withdraw the total balance of your dental bills at once and pay for your procedure in full, so you don’t have to put off that pricey dental surgery. You can even use extra funds for a variety of other financial obligations and goals, such as refinancing student loan debt or auto loans, or making minor home improvements.

Then, you can pay back the money you’ve borrowed on your line of credit in easy-to-manage monthly payments. For many people, turning a large upfront payment into a series of smaller and more predictable monthly payments can enable them to achieve their overall financial goals sooner.

What is not covered by dental insurance?

Dental insurance may cover a variety of procedures, but not every plan is created equal. While preventive, basic and restorative care is usually covered, some elective treatments may not be covered by dental insurance at all. For example, cosmetic dentistry, like teeth whitening, is not usually covered. Other procedures, such as orthodontics or dentures, may not be covered in part or in full, depending on your condition.

If you’re in need of a more complicated or expensive procedure, you may want a financing method that can cover the expenses your insurance won’t. These costs can add up, particularly if you or a family member have lifelong dental issues or long-term orthodontic needs.

After all, having healthy teeth goes a long way toward looking professional and achieving the opportunities you're seeking in life. Cosmetic options like invisible aligners can ensure you put your best smile forward in situations like job interviews and other critical milestone moments. Financing doesn't have to stand in the way.

How much will my dental work cost?

The total cost of your dental work depends on a few factors. The first is your dental insurance coverage. Insurance plans cover different kinds of procedures. When a dental procedure isn’t covered in full by your insurer, the amount they’re willing to pay (and the remainder that you’re responsible for) will vary depending on your plan.

Next is the price set by the dental provider. These vary from practice to practice, as well as the location where you’re getting treatment.

The average costs for common dental procedures are:

  • Braces can range from $3,000 to $6,000 depending on your age, treatment type, and length of time required for the wearer
  • Dental fillings can range from $90 to $250 but may be more expensive for more complicated procedures
  • Tooth extraction can cost $150 for a typical extraction, or up to $650 for a surgical extraction when anesthesia is required
  • A single resin crown typically costs $325
  • Root canals can vary between $120 to $185 in most cases

How can I finance my dental expenses?

There are several ways — each with its own benefits — to finance your dental expenses. Below are some of the more common options.

Personal line of credit

A personal line of credit can be a flexible dental financing option for many people. With a personal line of credit, borrowers get access to a certain amount of money from which they can pull what they need over a set period of time.

For example, if a person needed to pull money from their line of credit to pay for a dental procedure, they could take only the amount needed at that time. This means they’d only pay interest on the portion of the money borrowed, rather than the entire value of the loan. Personal lines of credit also benefit from greater flexibility: borrowers can pull funds in a number of ways for a variety of personal or household purposes, not just to finance dental procedures.

Personal loan

Another dental financing option is a personal loan, which traditionally offers a lump sum of funds at origination, with fixed monthly payments over the life of the loan. Term options for personal loans usually vary from one to five years and may offer lower loan amounts for borrowers seeking to take out minimal debt.

Although personal loans and personal lines of credit are both different types of loans, with flexible use of funds, there are important nuances between the two financing options.

The funds from a personal loan are distributed all at once, and borrowers pay interest on the entire loan amount, with payments immediately due once the loan is funded. Learn more about personal lines of credit vs. personal loans.

Dental loan

A dental loan is similar to a personal loan, albeit designed to finance dental bills specifically. Unlike some personal loans, dental loans are unsecured. This means you won’t have to put up collateral to get one. As with other unsecured loans, you may pay more in interest, however, since there’s no collateral involved.

Health Savings Account

Health savings accounts are a popular option for many people looking to finance dental procedures and other medical costs. With an HSA, people can set aside money tax-free that they can put toward qualified medical expenses, including dental procedures, depending on the individual’s account.

There are several caveats with HSAs, however. First, you have to have a high deductible health plan to be eligible for one. In 2021, your HSA contributions are capped yearly at $3,600 for individuals, $7,200 for families, and people ages 55 and older can make additional catch-up contributions up to $1,000. HSA balances roll over every year, however, so you can accumulate funds yearly to build up a larger balance in your account.

Flexible Savings Account

Flexible savings accounts are similar to HSAs in that they allow people to set aside pre-tax dollars to help pay for qualifying medical expenses. Unlike HSAs, however, FSAs require people to use the funds in their account every year — otherwise, they are forfeited.

Individuals are not required to have a high deductible health plan to qualify for an FSA, however, and the maximum contribution for individuals in 2021 is $2,750 per account with an employer. Since FSAs don’t roll over and only permit a smaller yearly contribution, using one to help pay dental expenses may be more limiting.

Financing dental expenses with a Personal Line of Credit

Keeping on top of dental hygiene means making sure you don’t skip appointments or critical procedures. If paying for dental care — and other health-related expenses — is a concern, the good news is there are plenty of options available to help make procedures more affordable. For borrowers with strong financial profiles and excellent credit scores, a personal line of credit may be a good idea. Insurance may help cover some of the costs of going to the dentist; a personal line of credit can help cover the rest. Learn more and calculate your rate today.

Personal Line of Credit consists of a two-year, interest-only, revolving draw period followed by a fully amortizing repayment period of the remainder of the term. Draws are not permitted during the repayment period. Full terms of 7, 10 and 15 years available.

This product can only be used for personal, family or household purposes. It cannot be used for the following (among other prohibitions): to refinance or pay any First Republic loans or lines of credit, to purchase securities or investment products (including margin stock), for speculative purposes, for business or commercial uses, or for the direct payment of post-secondary educational expenses. This product cannot be used to pay off credit card debt at origination.

The terms of this product may differ from terms of your current loan(s) that are being paid off, including but not limited to student loans. By repaying such loans, you may permanently be giving up tax and repayment benefits, including forbearance, deferment and forgiveness, and you may not be able to re-obtain such benefits if this loan is refinanced with another lender in the future.

Contact your legal, tax and financial advisors for advice on deciding whether this is the right product for you. Terms and conditions apply.

Product is not available in all markets. For a complete list of locations, visit Applicants must meet a First Republic banker to open account. This is not a commitment to lend; all lending is subject to First Republic’s underwriting standards. Applicants should discuss line of credit terms, conditions and account details with their banker.

The strategies mentioned in this article may have tax and legal consequences; therefore, you should consult your own attorneys and/or tax advisors to understand the tax and legal consequences of any strategies mentioned in this document.

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