If you’re thinking of undergoing a cosmetic dental procedure, there’s one hurdle that may be standing in your way: the cost.
Health insurance, and in fact most dental insurance, will not pay for elective cosmetic procedures, so patients are required to seek out other ways to pay for treatments that can run several thousand dollars.
Thankfully, a number of cosmetic dentistry payment plans and alternative options are available.
Typical Costs of Cosmetic Dentistry
Because they require considerable expertise and precision combined with state-of-the-art tools and laboratory assistance, cosmetic dentistry procedures can be costly. Here are just a few examples.
Composite or porcelain veneers can run between $950 and $2,500 per tooth depending on the material, the prep work required, the condition of the teeth, and the patient’s geographic location. This average doesn’t include other incidentals like X-rays.
Lumineers and other types of “no-prep veneers” tend to cost a bit less—often within the $800 to $2,000 range. The cost is slightly lower because the procedure requires less prep work (hence the name) and the end result doesn’t typically last as long.
Teeth whitening procedures can vary significantly in their costs depending on the process and materials used. If you’re considering a high-end cosmetic teeth-whitening procedure, such as Zoom! Teeth Whitening, you might pay upwards of $500 or more.
In other words, it can be difficult to pay for cosmetic dental procedures out of pocket.
Cosmetic vs Non-Cosmetic Procedures
When it comes to comparing cosmetic vs. non-cosmetic dental procedures, it basically boils down to “want vs. need.”
Cosmetic Dental Procedures
A cosmetic dental procedure is any treatment intended solely for aesthetics. It’s not intended to repair or reinforce a weakened tooth, it doesn’t remedy any pain or discomfort, and it isn’t deemed clinically necessary by most standards. It’s simply intended to help you look your best.
A porcelain veneer is an example of a cosmetic treatment because it’s designed primarily to improve the look of a misshapen or discolored tooth. This type of treatment is usually not covered by insurance.
Non-Cosmetic Dental Procedures
A non-cosmetic dental procedure is designed to help protect, preserve, or restore your teeth. For instance, if severe tooth decay has caused one of your teeth to crack or erode, you might use a dental crown to hold it together.
Insurance will typically cover non-cosmetic treatments as long as you can demonstrate a legitimate need. If you have a flexible spending account through your work, you can also put those savings toward crowns and other non-cosmetic procedures.
How to Pay for Cosmetic Dentistry
If you’re interested in a cosmetic dental procedure, you might not have to pay the full cost of the treatment up front. You may qualify for one or more types of cosmetic dentistry financing, and (depending on your eligibility) you may even be able to obtain the treatment for free.
Apply for a Cosmetic Dentistry Grant
The Cosmetic Dentistry Grants program provides funding for eligible candidates seeking a variety of cosmetic procedures, including implants, veneers, Invisalign, teeth whitening, contouring, and more. Candidates must submit a request for funding and undergo an assessment with a dentist who confirms eligibility.
Though anyone with a healthy mouth is eligible to apply, the program does favor candidates who can demonstrate a legitimate need for the procedure. Nobody is guaranteed a grant, and it can be very difficult to get approved. Still, there’s no cost to apply, so it never hurts to reach out.
Choose a Cosmetic Dentist With Flexible Financing Options
Your cosmetic dentist may offer their own financing plans to patients who qualify. For instance, at our Beverly Hills dental spa, we discuss payment options with each patient as part of the initial consultation.
We offer flexible financing that enables patients to make manageable payments on a monthly basis. We’ll work with you to find a suitable financial solution for your dental needs.
Seek Out Third-Party Financing for Cosmetic Dentistry
If your dentist doesn’t offer financing, or if you can’t secure the terms you want, you can reach out to third-party companies that specialize in dental treatments. Examples include GreenSky and Proceed Finance.
Because these companies typically offer a variety of loan types and financing solutions, they allow you to compare a wider variety of options and find the best fit for your needs.
Apply for a Healthcare Credit Card
Some patients are using a healthcare credit card to pay for their dental treatments. It works much like a traditional credit card, but it’s designated for medical and dental procedures. You can use it to pay for deductibles, copays, coinsurance, and other incidental costs not covered by insurance.
Examples of popular healthcare credit cards include CareCredit, AccessOne, and the Wells Fargo Health Advantage Card. One benefit of a healthcare credit card is that it typically comes with a low interest rate, so it’s worth considering even if you already have traditional credit cards.
Use a Traditional Credit Card
If you don’t have—or can’t obtain—a healthcare credit card, you could always go the traditional route. Just be careful when using a credit card to pay for any type of major procedure.
Create a budget, and be mindful of your credit limit and your interest rate. As with any financing deal, you don’t want to make any investment that you can’t reasonably pay for on a monthly basis. If possible, use a credit card with a 0% interest rate.
Find a Full Coverage Dental Plan
We’ve already established that most insurance plans don’t cover cosmetic dentistry. With that said, there are an increasing number of full-coverage plans available that go beyond the traditional coverage limits. Some will even pay for cosmetic treatments like porcelain veneers.
The downside, of course, is that you have to pay a higher premium. In addition, you may be required to carry the coverage for a set amount of time (such as 6 months to 1 year) before you become eligible for these types of procedures. Still, it may be worth the investment.
Opt for a Non-Cosmetic Treatment
In some cases, you may be able to achieve your intended aesthetic result by substituting a traditional procedure (covered by insurance) for your cosmetic procedure (not covered by insurance).
For instance, if you’re seeking dental veneers to cover unsightly discoloration, but that same tooth qualifies for a crown (due to a history of tooth decay that caused the discoloration in the first place), it might be better to opt for the crown. You’ll still achieve the improved look you want, but the procedure may just be covered by insurance. Of course, this will only work if you’re actually a candidate for the essential procedure.
Save Money Before Getting the Procedure
When all else fails, the best route may just be to set aside the money and pay for the procedure when you can afford it out-of-pocket.
The one downside is that you’ll have to wait longer to get the work done, but there are numerous upsides: you won’t have to take on any new debt, you never have to worry about qualifying, and the paperwork is much simpler.
Do You Need Help Deciding How to Pay for Cosmetic Dentistry?
If you’re not sure which cosmetic dentistry financing option is best for you, speak to your dentist. If you happen to be in the Los Angeles area, we invite you to schedule a consultation at our Beverly Hills dental spa.
We’ll listen to your goals, recommend an optimal course of treatment, and give you an idea of what you can expect to pay. Then we’ll lay out our payment and financing options in simple terms, so you can decide what works best for you.
Don’t put off that treatment any longer. Options are available, and you owe it to yourself to achieve the smile you’ve been dreaming about.