Getting the Dental Care You Need: A Guide to Dental Loans

Dental care is a paramount part of overall health and well-being. However, dental procedures and treatments can be quite expensive, making it difficult for some people to afford the dental work they need. This is where dental loans come in. Dental loans allow you to finance dental care costs over time, making treatment more accessible and affordable.

Why Do People Need Dental Loans?

There are a few key reasons why many opt to use dental loans to pay for dental work:


Lack of dental insurance: Not everyone has dental insurance through an employer or private dental plan. While medical insurance covers basic healthcare needs, dental coverage is often sold separately at an additional cost. This leaves many without assistance to pay for expensive dental procedures.

High out-of-pocket costs: Even those with dental insurance still face significant out-of-pocket costs for more complex or specialized dental treatments. Deductibles, co-insurance amounts, and non-covered services like orthodontics routinely result in multi-thousand-dollar bills.


Cash flow issues: Major dental work often requires payment upfront before treatment begins. Coming up with several thousand dollars all at once can be difficult, even for those who could otherwise afford to pay over the long run. Dental loans allow costs to be spread out.

Plan large treatments: Some conditions require multiple related procedures to fully correct. Things like braces, implants, or reconstructive jaw surgery involve ongoing treatment plans that can tally over $10,000 overall. Loans make these extensive treatments possible.

Types of Dental Loans

There are a few primary types of loans used specifically for dental treatment costs:


CareCredit Dental Loans

CareCredit is one of the largest dental loan providers. They offer both fixed-rate loans with terms from 6-60 months as well as promotional 0% interest loans that last 6-24 months depending on the amount financed. Promotional rates require full repayment within the promotional period to avoid high retroactive interest charges. Approval amounts are usually $1,000-$50,000 depending on total costs, creditworthiness, and loan length.

Dental Practice Loans

Some individual dental practices partner with third-party lenders like LendingClub to offer their own in-house financing options. Practices set their own eligibility requirements, available loan amounts, interest rates, and terms. These tend to be easier to qualify for than bank loans but may have higher rates or fees compared to CareCredit.

Personal Loans

General personal loans from banks, credit unions, or online lenders can be used to cover dental costs. However, rates tend to be higher than dental-specific loans. Limits also apply, usually under $50,000 maximum. Terms are typically 1-5 years for repayment. Credit requirements are stricter than dental loans.

Credit Cards

Using credit cards to pay for dental work and paying the bill over several months is an option some utilize. However, interest charges on credit cards tend to be much higher at 15-25% versus 5-19% for dental loans. It’s rarely the most cost-effective choice.

In summary, CareCredit and practice loans provide the best options specifically for dental financing. We’ll cover each type in more detail in the following sections.

CareCredit Dental Loans

CareCredit is by far the leading provider of loans for medical expenses like dental care. Here are some key things to know about CareCredit dental loans:

  • Credit lines up to $50,000 depending on treatment costs and individual credit profile. Most qualify for at least $1,000-$5,000.
  • Fixed interest rates from 0-19.99% with terms from 6-60 months for repayment. Longer terms mean higher total interest paid.
  • Promotional interest-free loans have 0% APR for 6-24 months depending on loan amount. High retroactive interest if not fully paid during the promotion period.
  • $0 application fee and no prepayment penalties if the payoff is early.
  • Accepted at over 200,000 provider locations nationwide, including virtually all dentists and orthodontists.
  • Eligibility based on minimum credit score and debt-to-income ratios. Scores as low as 600 may qualify depending on other factors.
  • Fast approvals within minutes once the dental office submits your loan application. Funds are directly deposited to the provider.

To apply for CareCredit financing, simply mention to your dental provider you’re interested in the loan. They can submit an application on your behalf at no cost. Approval notifications are quick so you’ll know right away if approved before treatment starts.

CareCredit offers extensive educational resources on dental health to help patients better understand their treatment needs and how financing can help. Their website has a dental loan calculator to estimate costs based on your specific dental work and loan term.

Overall, CareCredit dental loans provide excellent access to flexible financing at competitive rates specifically designed for dental costs. Their widespread acceptance makes it very convenient for both patients and providers.

Dental Practice Loans

As mentioned earlier, some dental practices may offer their own in-office financing through direct partnerships with lenders. Here are a few points about practice-based loans:

  • Loan amounts are usually less than CareCredit at $1,000-$10,000 range on average. Smaller budget treatment plans are ideal.
  • Fixed and promotional interest rates can vary more than CareCredit. Some offer 0% for 6-18 months, others 5-15% fixed rates with 1-3 year terms.
  • Credit checks are not as stringent as banks so higher-risk borrowers may qualify more easily.
  • Apply directly at the dental office front desk or bring an already pre-approved letter from the lender to schedule treatment.
  • Useful if poor credit disqualifies from better options or it’s a small loan amount. Potential for higher interest paid though if not careful.
  • No wider acceptance network like CareCredit, but convenient to have funds deposited straight to the practice account.

Dental practice loans give patients more localized financing options. However, their loans typically have more variability in terms and costs compared to larger providers like CareCredit. Be sure to compare interest rates and ask plenty of questions before committing.

Personal Loan Options

Personal loans from banks and online lenders provide access to larger loan amounts than many dental loans, usually up to $50,000 maximum. Some things to know:

  • Fixed interest rates from 5-20% depending on loan size, term, and your credit profile. Terms as long as 5 years.
  • No origination or prepayment penalties normally. May have cosigner release options.
  • Eligibility requires good credit, debt ratios below 40-45%, verifiable income. Much stricter guidelines.
  • Funds are deposited in no more than a few business days as a lump sum. You pay providers directly.
  • Used for any personal expense but cannot be applied directly to dental offices like CareCredit.
  • Online lenders like LightStream, SoFi, and Chase offer streamlined automated approval processes.

While personal loans provide flexibility, rates tend to be higher than dental-specific financing. Creditworthiness demands are also greater. These may be your only resort if poor credit bars you from dental loans. In many cases, the lower rates and wider acceptance of CareCredit make it the smarter choice if eligible.

Credit Cards: Risks Outweigh Rewards

As a last resort, some swipe dental costs on credit cards to break payments into smaller monthly installments. However, there are better alternatives that avoid high-interest costs:

  • Credit card rates average 15-25% APR – much higher than most dental loans, resulting in excess repayment amounts over time.
  • Dental treatments that require ongoing or future follow-up make carrying a balance long-term problematic with accruing interest charges.
  • Promotional 0% cards require discipline to pay off before intro rates expire, or else retroactive interest applies. Easy to fall behind and end up in a worse spot.
  • Exceeding credit limits with large dental costs can negatively impact credit utilization ratios tracked by bureaus.

Unless you can completely pay the full balance each month without interest, credit cards should generally be avoided for large, ongoing dental procedures and plans. Find another loan option and keep credit flexibility for emergencies.

Repayment Considerations

No matter what financing route you choose, be sure to fully consider repayment terms and commit only to what you can comfortably afford over the long run:

  • Compare loan total costs including interest between options using an online loan calculator before deciding.
  • Weigh interest rates, fees, and loan length to balance the lowest overall payment with the shortest term to minimize interest paid.
  • Factor in how long promotional interest-free plans are required to pay off and whether able to do so before higher rates kick in.
  • Understand whether regular minimum payments are principal-only or if they also reduce loan balance each month.
  • Budget diligently to commit only to what debt-to-income ratios allow for without overextending your monthly finances. Lenders generally don’t want repayment amounts exceeding 10-15% of your take-home pay.
  • Consider paying more than the minimum when able to pay down loans faster and reduce interest charges over time. Extra payments go straight to the principal.
  • Set repayment reminders if utilizing promotional rates to avoid missing payment deadlines that trigger retroactive interest fees.

Proper repayment planning is key to ensuring dental loans remain manageable and don’t end up causing unnecessary financial stress. With the right loan and sufficient budgeting, you can get the dental care you need while keeping costs as low as possible.


Leave a Comment