Ways to Pay for Dental Care

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Contributor, Benzinga
March 17, 2022

Did you know most of our readers prefer DentalInsurance.com for their dental insurance needs?

You may be surprised to learn that dental insurance is not your only option when it comes to paying for dental care. You can find plenty of options to consider before choosing an insurance policy if you’re concerned about the cost. Be sure to look at all of your options to find which may be best suited for you before you choose to forgo dental coverage altogether. 

1. Dental Insurance

You can access plenty of ways to obtain dental insurance, whether you need it for your family or just for yourself. The easiest way to get dental insurance is through your employer. While it is not legally required for employers to offer dental care insurance, your employer may offer it as part of the employee benefit package. Check to see if your health plan through your work has dental coverage before you purchase an individual plan. 

In addition, if you receive health care coverage through the ACA healthcare marketplace, you likely will be able to get dental coverage through the marketplace as well. Some health plans include dental coverage, but you can also buy a stand-alone dental plan. You can purchase a dental plan alone through an individual dental insurance provider for as little as a few dollars a month. The right dental insurance plan can make dental care easy and affordable so you only have to worry about your dental insurance premiums and your percentage of your care costs outlined in your insurance. 

2. Find a Low-Cost or Free Provider

A number of dental practices provide dental services to those who are uninsured or are low income. They typically use a sliding scale to determine payments. You can contact local dental care providers to see if they offer this or if they know of any other practices that offer their services for a low cost. 

Most dental practices won’t offer their services for free, but it is possible to find free medical clinics that can provide dental care for free. These clinics are typically for those who can’t afford healthcare, so you will have to be eligible to receive these free services. Eligibility is usually based on your income. You can do some research to find and contact a free clinic in your area.   

3. Find a Dental School

Dental students need to have practical experience providing dental services before they graduate, which is why dental colleges offer services through the school at a much lower cost. You can sign up to receive dental treatments from students at certain schools where they offer this. All students are supervised by a licensed dentist during treatments you receive, ensuring that you get proper care. Check with local dental schools to see whether they have open spots and if you can sign up. 

4. Enroll in a Dental Discount Plan

Dental discount programs offer dental services at a lower cost in exchange for a membership fee. You can sign up for the discount plan and then gain access to significant discounts. You typically don’t have to wait to get access to the care like you would with dental insurance. The plan have no caps or limits to coverage, so you can get expensive dental care at a lower, discounted price. However, not every dental office honors these types of programs. 

5. Financing

You can access several options when it comes to dental financing. One option is to consider a personal loan that allows you to pay for dental care services. While financing may be a flexible option, your loan may have a high interest rate. You’ll also most likely need a good credit score or a good financial relationship to get a dental financing loan.

6. Save and Pay Upfront

A number of dental care providers may offer discounts for those who pay for dental services up front in cash. If you save up your money and pay up front, then you may pay less for whatever service is needed. While this may seem like a major undertaking as dental services are not the cheapest, it can be a viable option if you aren’t in urgent need of services. 

7. Dental Grants

Many different types of medical grants exist, including dental ones. While they can be helpful in paying for services, they typically come with a long list of requirements. You can research online to find grants available to you, but make sure you read the requirements carefully to determine whether you’re eligible or not. It’s important to note that these grants usually have waiting periods that are on the longer side. So if you are in need of care immediately, it may be better to consider another option from this list. 

8. Nonprofits and Charities

Many charities and nonprofit organizations offer financial help for medical expenses. These expenses typically include those dental care services that aren’t usually covered by insurance. Some dentists also donate their time and equipment to organizations to help offer their services to those who can’t afford it otherwise. Depending on the service, some or all of the expense may be paid for. However, most of these organizations and charities only offer this option to those who are low income.  

Advantages of Dental Insurance

Dental insurance is most likely the first option you’ll consider when searching for ways to pay for dental care. While dental insurance does have its advantages, the policy that you purchase will have limits. If you’re unsure whether dental insurance is the best option for you, first consider the advantages and disadvantages of buying a plan.  

  • Controls cost: It should come as no surprise that having dental insurance makes dental care much more affordable should you need it. Most dental insurance policies focus on preventive care, which allows you to control the cost of more major procedures and treatments that may be needed. Dental insurance also allows you to control out-of-pocket costs when it comes to your and your family’s dental care. If you were to not have insurance, then you would be stuck paying for the cost of the treatment in its entirety. 
  • Helps avoid future issues: When you have dental insurance, you are much more likely to schedule annual checkups. These preventive services allow a dentist to see if any issues are arising. If problems are discovered earlier on, then you end up avoiding more complicated issues with your teeth and mouth than if you were to not get annual exams. This practice not only helps avoid future health issues, but it also helps avoid having to pay for these more complicated health issues in the future.  
  • Better overall health: Oral health is not just good for your mouth and teeth, but it can actually affect your overall health. When your oral health is not taken care of, you may end up dealing with an increased risk for heart disease and other conditions. In addition, oral diseases can make speaking, eating and sleeping difficult when not treated properly. 

Drawbacks of Dental Insurance

Dental insurance has advantages, and it can be worth it in many cases. However, since insurance isn’t the only option you have, it’s good to understand possible drawbacks to this option before you choose a policy.

  • You may end up losing money: Assuming you aren’t dealing with any major dental issues, you may end up going to the dentist once or twice during the year for an annual exam, some x-rays and a cleaning. In this case, you may end up paying more in dental premiums than you would have if you paid for these services out of pocket. 
  • Coverage can be limited: While there likely are dental insurance plans that offer coverage for some of the more costly and extensive dental treatments and procedures, that isn’t the case for most. Cosmetic procedures and orthodontics aren’t usually covered, which can limit the usability of your dental insurance police and its value. Most dental insurance policies also institute strict maximums, which you may soon exhaust if you have a serious dental problem.

Compare Dental Insurance

Benzinga offers insights and reviews on the following dental insurance providers. If you decide that you might want to purchase a dental insurance plan, consider beginning your search with a few of the links below. 

Frequently Asked Questions


Can you buy standalone dental insurance?


Yes, it is possible to buy standalone dental insurance through a private provider. Many dental insurance policies cost less than $30 a month and can help you get both preventive services and corrective procedures. 


Does dental insurance cover veneers?


Dental insurance does not cover elective or cosmetic dental treatments. As veneers are usually installed for cosmetic reasons, your dental insurance will not pay for them. 

Dental Insurance Methodology

To determine the best dental insurance providers, we pored through all United States carriers. We winnowed the list by only including companies that have a wide coverage area and product offering. To further break down the list to the true best dental insurance providers, we gave weight to carriers that offer discounts, are available in all states and have multiple payment plan options.

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