Paying for Dental Treatment
At NOLA Dentures and General Dentistry, we work hard to help our patients get to good health. Whether that is as simple as a regular 6-month cleaning or as complicated as fixing every tooth, we want our patients to feel proud of their smile. One of the most common questions that we have in our office is how to pay for treatment. In this blog, I want to discuss the various ways we work with patients to make treatment affordable from prioritizing needs to insurance and dental benefits to financing.
When a person comes to our office needing multiple teeth fixed, treatment can generally be prioritized depending on where the infection is, whether the area being treated is in the smile, and how quickly will the problem get worse. Also it is important to consider what is happening in the patient’s life. For example, if a patient has five large cavities and a broken front tooth, the cavities should take priority. Now if the patient is getting married in a week, the broken front tooth takes priority. By prioritizing treatment, we can create a plan to get the entire mouth fixed in a timely fashion. As a rule of thumb, when infection is present such as cavities or gum disease but hasn’t spread into the bone, it is best to get one procedure done every 2 weeks. If infection or abscess have spread into the bone or are causing pain, those areas need to be treated as soon as reasonably possibly as those are problems that can spread very quickly and become life threatening.
The second most common way to pay for dental treatment is to use dental insurance or dental benefits. Many patients are most familiar with this option. These plans work well because they generally cover preventative treatment fully as well as a portion of other work to be done. When purchased through an employer, dental benefits can be great for a patient as generally benefits start immediately. If purchased by the patient alone, however, full benefits might take up to 3 years to start meaning that the patient must make 24 months of payments before being able to use the insurance. The other issues with insurance are that insurances can have exclusions of treatment such as a “missing tooth clause” meaning that if a tooth isn’t present when insurance starts then the insurance will not cover a replacement for this tooth. This is most notable when patients want to get a replacement set of dentures and the insurance will not cover the replacement as they consider the teeth already missing. Each contract is different and depends on the coverage level, company, and employer. Thankfully our insurance specialist is pretty good at knowing each company, but even with her experience, occasionally the insurance will surprise her.
The final and most popular option is to finance treatment where payments are spread over a period of 6 to 60 months and the two companies with which we have partnered are Care Credit and Compassionate Finance. Care Credit is usually the standard as it allows a 0% interest loan which is paid over 24 months and works like a credit card. One caveat with the zero percent interest loan with care credit is that if the loan is not paid in full by the 24 months, then the holder of the card is hit with a high interest rate. Also care credit requires a higher credit score to cover treatment fully. Compassionate Finance is the company we use for our patients who do not wish to use care credit. With Compassionate Finance, as long as the patient has a bank account in good standing and can make a down payment, treatment can be fully financed, and the interest rate varies between 6 to 18 percent. The down payment depends on the amount of treatment needed as well as the length of the loan.
As money is usually a major concern for most patients, I hope that this post gives you some ideas for how we can help you out. We work hard to help every patient get the care they need and the smile they want. If you have any questions about our financing options or if you would like to make an appointment to see what treatment is needed, please call us at 504-392-5104.