Dental Payment Plans Do Not Equal In-House Financing

Many people search for dentists that accept payment plans, thinking that an office with in-house financing will make it more affordable to get their teeth fixed.

The thought process goes something like this.

A big impersonal corporation will charge sky-high interest rates and decline applicants with weak credentials. Meanwhile, a friendly neighborhood dental office might allow any patient to pay in monthly installments at no extra charge.

Would you go to a bank for a root canal? Of course not. Then why look for a dentist that lends money?

Learn how “in-house” financing programs work in reality, and explore three ways to create a self-generated payment plan without having to borrow money.

Dentists with In-House Financing

The truth is that the majority of dentists do not offer payment plans by financing in-house. They went to dental school to learn how to fill cavities and extract teeth, and know little about credit underwriting and debt collections.

As a result, most small privately-owned practices outsource this function.

Personal Loan

Request a personal loan (Sponsored Link) to fund your dental work. If approved, the lender can deposit money directly into your checking account. Having cash in the bank allows you to choose the practice in your local area with the best service reputation and lowest prices for treatment – without the added constraint of having in-house financing – which rarely exists anyway.

Repay the loan in equal monthly installments, which could last for twelve to thirty-six months, depending on your qualifications. Allow your dentist to specialize in oral health, while lenders focus on funding the treatment.

Patient Funding

The overwhelming majority of dental practices that seemingly offer in-house payment plans do not in the end. Instead, they partner with a third-party patient finance company that performs this function behind the scenes.

You might complete an application at your local office or a form hosted on the practice website. However, when you look closely at the document, you should find the name of the corporate entity underwriting the funding in the disclosure section.

Third-party finance companies are an excellent alternative for patients who lack the money to pay for treatment. However, you limit your options when you pick a dentist based on whether they participate in one of these schemes.

Bad Credit

Dental offices are least likely to offer in-house financing to people with bad credit.  A person with a history of delinquency, judgments, repossessions, or bankruptcy will probably fall behind on future monthly installment payments as well.

Defaulted account receivables referred to a collection agency hurt the offices’ bottom line. Your small neighborhood dentist cannot absorb losses of any magnitude.

Furthermore, expecting a dentist to take on additional risk without a credit check borders on the absurd. Most third-party companies with vaster resources and experience still pull a copy of your consumer report and examine your FICO or Vantage score.

Dentists That Accept Payment Plans

On the other hand, many dentists will accept payment plans when they do not have to perform any financing themselves. They will gladly take money borrowed from another company and allow this other entity to manage the underwriting, billing, and collections functions – and suffer the losses when patients default.

  1. Personal loans
  2. Credit card
  3. Patient financing

However, you could self-engineer several options if you are unable to borrow money from a corporate entity. Specific treatments lend themselves to time-phased billing or do not require immediate care. You could arrange for periodic installments without having to incur debt.


The long healing time in between procedure steps enables a self-financed payment plan for dental implant installation. An oral surgeon followed by a prosthodontist could charge two types of fees during treatment phases that can take up to twenty-four months to complete.

  • Oral Surgeon
    • Tooth extractions
    • Bone grafting
    • Body placement in the jaw
      • Surgical service
      • Outside lab manufactures the implant body
    • Abutment insertion in the gums
      • Surgical service
      • The third-party lab creates the abutment device
    • Prosthodontist
      • CAT Scans and X-rays
      • Impressions of teeth, gums, and bite
      • Installation of temporary and permanent teeth
        • Service time to install and remove
        • Outside lab to fabricate dentures, crowns, and bridges

In other words, two possible providers will bill you for services they perform themselves, and for materials that they must purchase from a laboratory. The practices might accept payment for each item as they incur the expense.

Finally, the prolonged healing time between the four possible surgical procedures gives you time to save money in between each step.


The apparent future need allows for a reverse-engineered dental payment plan for braces. Plus, an orthodontist will provide services over time, allowing for a second set of installments.

Buying dental insurance with orthodontic coverage can make correcting your teenagers’ smile more affordable. Most offices will gladly accept claims checks from insurance companies. Begin making monthly premium payments up to twenty-four months in advance.

Many dental plans contain long waiting periods before benefits for braces begin. However, most parents are acutely aware that their children have crooked teeth well before they are old enough for treatment. Mom and dad are without excuse to start at the right time.

Finally, many orthodontists will bill over time as they perform services.

  1. Down payment
  2. Hardware installation
  3. Monthly adjustments and repairs
  4. Hardware removal
  5. Retainer


Dental veneers open the door for a third patient-funded payment plan arrangement. Veneers fall into the cosmetic category. Therefore, most insurance programs will not cover this procedure because it treats appearance rather than function.

Prepayment becomes a possibility because enhancing your smile with porcelain veneers is not urgent. Cosmetic riders attached to supplemental dental programs could make it easier to afford shiny new covers for your teeth – after a twenty-four month waiting period.

Patients can make monthly premium payments during the waiting period while enjoying benefits more quickly for other procedures.

CategoryWaiting Months
Oral Surgery6
Root Canal12