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How can you afford to pay for dental implants if you have bad credit, and they can cost as much as $4,000 per tooth? One tiny bite at a time!
Your neighborhood dentist might offer payment plans that feature medium-size meals by billing for each of six possible treatments – that need months to heal between each step.
A third-party finance company can then take each meal and break them down into smaller, bite-sized morsels that are much easier to chew and digest.
Finally, insurance sometimes makes things more budget-friendly.
Dental Implant Financing Options
Several dental implant financing options can make the medium-sized meals easier to swallow by spreading the obligations out even further over time. The patients who lack the resources to make an upfront deposit before each procedure stage benefit most.
Of course, you must meet lender requirements to qualify. Making arrangements before visiting a provider puts you in control.
Dental implant loans are a financing alternative that gives you the flexibility to choose any prosthodontist or oral surgeon. Submitting an online request presents your credentials to a vast network of lenders who compete for your business.
Request a loan for dental work here!
If approved, the lender or bank will deposit the loan proceeds directly into your checking account. Control of the money gives you the capacity to choose the provider featuring the lowest prices and best service.
- Personal loans are installment contracts, which means that you retire the obligation with fixed monthly payments that expire at a designated time: three to five years.
- The credit score needed for a personal loan is 660 or higher, and you will need to show sufficient income to handle the projected monthly payment, which grows with the principal amount borrowed.
In-house dental implant financing programs are not what they seem once you look behind the curtain. Would you go to your local bank branch and ask them for a permanent tooth replacement solution?
Of course, that would be silly. The banker would refer you to a dentist.
Likewise, the local prosthodontist “offering” an in-house program will refer you to a third-party patient financing company, who performs the credit underwriting, funding, billing, and collections functions.
As a prospective patient, you complete an application with a third-party company. However, this type of “in-house” arrangement has three significant drawbacks.
- You prioritize access to financing over the expertise, pricing, and service of the prosthodontist
- The provider chooses one third-party company who might reject your application
- If approved, the money goes to the dentist, putting them in control of the process, rather than you – the patient
Clear Choice financing is an example of an in-house option where the local provider refers patients to a third-party company. In this case, Care Credit is the organization operating behind the scenes that performs the underwriting, billing, and collections processes.
Each Clear Choice center is owned and operated by local, licensed providers who provide one-stop same-day full-mouth dental implant services. The parent company manages the affiliate network and provides practice management services, such as the financing program operated by Care Credit.
Care Credit is a tradename associated with Synchrony Bank, which manages a revolving credit card program for prospective patients. Meanwhile, revolving accounts have pros and cons.
Zero-interest promotional periods for qualified borrowers
Sky-high interest charges (26.99%) if a balance remains at the end
The ability to reuse the account over time as needed
Flexible monthly payments that could allow balances to balloon
The bare-minimum credit score needed for the Clear Choice third-party financing is 620. However, if approved, the account borrowing limits might prove too small to be of any real value towards replacement teeth.
Paying for Implants with Bad Credit
Patients with bad credit history and low FICO scores often need to explore alternative avenues to pay for dental implant procedures. Lenders are least likely to approve requests from applicants with scores below 580.
No Credit Check
Patients with bad credit have two ways to qualify for dental implant financing without a traditional credit check from Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion: borrow from subprime lenders or your employer via flexible spending.
Subprime lenders cater to potential borrowers with low FICO credit scores (580 – 669). Instead of pulling a consumer report from one of the big three agencies, they utilize information from second-tier sources that provide alternative data.
- Apartment rental history which may include evictions
- Utility bill payments (gas, electric, water, mobile phone, etc.)
The IRS requires employers to provide guaranteed-approval loans without a credit check through employers that offer Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA). By rule, employers must allow all employees to participate, even if they have a FICO score well below 500.
- Elect to fund the FSA up to $2,750 (per person) during open enrollment
- Schedule dental implant work at the beginning of the FSA plan year
- Your employer must immediately reimburse any qualifying expense
- You have up to 12 months to repay the FSA loan with pre-tax dollars, reducing the levies you must pay.
- Federal income taxes
- FICA taxes: 7.65%
- State income taxes
Patients with a bad credit history sometimes believe that the inability to borrow money comes with a hidden silver lining – the capability to qualify for dental implant grants (free money you do not have to repay) due to past or present financial hardship.
While low-income families often meet eligibility criteria for charity care, these programs are incredibly scarce. However, patients can position themselves to receive grants and free services by offering something in exchange: have the capacity to pay for other oral care procedures you might need.
So, how does someone with a FICO score below 550 demonstrate the wherewithal to pay for expensive, downstream services when they do not qualify to borrow money? The answer is simple: buy insurance to support the built-in payment plans offered by providers.
Built-In Dental Implant Payment Plans
Your neighborhood provider probably offers built-in monthly payment plans for dental implants but is not extending credit themselves. Keep in mind that these professionals went to school to learn how to replace missing teeth and likely did not take any banking courses.
Therefore, expect your local prosthodontist to refer your case to a third-party finance company for any medium-sized meals leftover after they bill for each service – spaced out over time as you heal.
When appropriate, taking advantage of insurance can make each installment much cheaper (bite-size) – and more comfortable to swallow.
Patients can engage three strategies to construct the cheapest dental implant payment plans: the alternative that yields the lowest cost per month.
- Spread the installments out over extended periods
- Choose the least expensive treatment option
- Have insurance pick up most of the tab
Having an outside company cover the bulk of your expenses will always prove the most economical. Therefore, we will break down the opportunities for the two primary coverage types.
Making monthly premium payments towards dental insurance covering implants can lead to bargain treatment for any remaining teeth. Most plans will include a missing tooth exclusion but could pay for any molars or bicuspids in need of future extraction.
However, you have to make sure that the benefits exceed the cost to make the numbers work. Several caveats make the analysis tricky.
- You fund the premiums before starting any work – not after
- Plans without waiting periods could contain graded benefits
- Year 1: 25%
- Year 2: 30%
- Year 3: 50%
Remember that time is on your side when dealing with the later-stage steps. A 30% reimbursement for dentures in the final phase could prove very valuable.
You probably are making monthly payments towards your health insurance premiums already. Patients with medically necessary reasons often realize the most budget-friendly dental implants because their healthcare plan picks up much of the tab.
The definition of “medically necessary” may include dental care arising from non-biting accidents, certain diseases, and treatments deemed integral to other services included in the plan.
For example, former cancer patients or people involved in a car accident can tap into this resource – if a disease or injury damaged their teeth. Their policy might then cover the CAT scan and surgical steps for medically necessary restorations.
Many local prosthodontist offices will happily provide a built-in payment plan. The process does not happen in a single day and can take up to 24 months to complete your smile’s full restoration.
Phased billing matching each treatment step creates the medium-size bites that are easier to finance via a third party (see above) if still needed. You could undergo up to six distinct required procedures over two years – with a significant need for healing time between each step.
|Step||Months to Heal|
4 to 12
4 to 6
1 to 2
In summary, monthly payment plans for dental implants are not a one-stop shopping experience. Expect a third-party finance company to get involved at some point in the process to fund at least one of the many possible treatment steps.
Taking out a personal loan before picking a provider puts you in control of the process. You have the opportunity to present your credentials to a vast lender network, which increases your approval odds.
Then, having money in your checking account allows you to pick the prosthodontist with the most experience – rather than one that offers in-house financing – which they refer out to a third-party company anyway.
Patients with bad credit should also do their due diligence before walking into the provider’s office. Explore all options, including sub-prime lenders, flexible spending, grant programs, and insurance plans.