Dental financing: How to pay for dental work when insurance isn’t enough

Dental loans can come in handy when insurance won’t cover the total cost of a procedure

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Dental loans can help you pay for a procedure when the maximum benefit amount on your dental insurance isn’t enough. Learn more about dental financing here. (iStock)

Trips to the dentist can be expensive. A routine dental cleaning can range from $75 to $200, and a root canal can be in the neighborhood of $1,500, according to insurance giant Humana.  

Given the high costs of dental care, it’s no surprise that 43% of American adults claim they avoid dental care because of the expense, according to a study by the CareQuest Institute for Oral Health.

Even if you have dental insurance, there’s a chance it won’t cover everything. In fact, private health insurance picked up a $65 billion tab for dental services in 2021, while consumers paid more than $63 billion out of pocket, the American Dental Association reports.

When you don’t have dental insurance, or your insurance won’t cover all your costs, dental financing can be a way to pay for expensive but necessary dental care. 

If you need a personal loan to help pay for a dental procedure, you can compare personal loan rates using Credible.

What is dental financing?

Dental financing is a way to pay for high-cost dental procedures and cosmetic dentistry that your dental insurance may not cover, or that you can’t fund on your own. Most dental insurance plans come with an annual maximum benefit amount, so even if you have dental insurance, you may still have to cover some out-of-pocket costs.

Many dental offices offer payment plans for dental procedures not covered by your insurance or that exceed the maximum benefit amount allowed on your plan. Some procedures may not be covered at all. In that case, you might consider a dental loan.

What is a dental loan?

Dental loans are a type of unsecured personal loan that you use specifically to pay for dental work. Like traditional unsecured loans, you don’t have to provide collateral for the loan. But dental loans often come with a lower interest rate, low monthly payments and better loan terms than many traditional personal loans, making them a good choice when you need help paying your dental bill. 

While the amount you can borrow will vary depending on the lender and your credit, you can typically find a dental loan for $1,000 up to $50,000. Keep in mind that if you’re using insurance in addition to a dental loan, you’ll have to pay the insurance deductible before you can use your loan funds. 

Many online lenders that offer dental financing are able to provide loan funds as soon as one to two business days after approval, which can be a good option if you need to cover an emergency procedure.

What can I pay for with a dental loan?

You can use a dental loan to pay for a variety of procedures, including: 

  • Crowns
  • Dental implants
  • Braces
  • Chipped tooth repair
  • Dental cleaning
  • Tooth extraction
  • Filling cavities
  • Emergency dental procedures

Your dental loan may not cover every dental procedure, though. For example, some loans may only allow for standard dental work, but not cosmetic procedures. You’ll want to verify with the lender what procedures it covers before visiting your dentist’s office. 

Visit Credible to compare personal loan rates for dental financing loans from multiple lenders, all in one place.

What are the pros and cons of dental financing?

Dental loans can be a great option for covering high-cost dental procedures. Online loans can be helpful when you need care fast, as many lenders are able to fund dental loans within a few days of approval. In addition to fast funding, online lenders offer a variety of loan amounts to choose from, so you can pick a loan that best suits your needs.

As with most financing options, dental financing has some pros and cons that you’ll want to consider.  


  • Can be used for a variety of procedures
  • Provides funding when your insurance benefit amount is maxed out
  • Lower interest rates than some general personal loans
  • Fixed payment amounts
  • Flexible repayment terms


  • Must be paid back with interest
  • May be hard to qualify if you have poor credit
  • Will require a credit check, which can temporarily affect your credit score
  • Possible fees, such as application and origination fees
  • Creates additional debt

How to apply for a dental loan

You can find dental loans online and through some dental offices. Repayment terms and interest rates can differ from one lender to the next. To apply for a dental loan, follow these five steps:

1. Check your credit score. Loan approval, rates, and loan terms are typically based on your credit score and debt-to-income ratio. Because dental loans are unsecured, the lender takes on all the risk for repayment, so your credit score plays a big part in whether you’ll qualify.

If your credit is less than stellar and you don’t need care immediately, try to improve your score by making payments on time and paying down your overall debt.

2. Get prequalified. Prequalifying gives you a better idea of what annual percentage rate, or APR, you might qualify for. When you apply for prequalification, the lender will do a soft pull of your credit, with no harm to your credit score. 

To get prequalified, you’ll need to provide your lender with some basic personal information, like your annual income and bank statements.

3. Compare lenders. Make sure to compare as many lenders that offer dental loans as possible to ensure you get the best loan for your unique financial situation. Consider not only interest rates, but also repayment terms and any fees the lender charges.

4. Gather necessary documents. Your lender will ask for several documents when deciding whether to approve your loan, such as recent pay stubs and tax documents. Having these on hand makes the process of applying for your dental loan much easier.

5. Apply for your dental loan. When you apply for a dental loan, the lender will perform a hard credit inquiry to determine your eligibility, which will temporarily lower your credit score by a few points. If you’re approved for a loan, you might receive your funds in as little as a few business days, though it could vary depending on the lender.

Can I get a dental loan with bad credit?

You can often get a dental loan with bad credit, but your interest rate and terms may not be as favorable as loans for good to excellent credit. Since dental loans are unsecured, the lender takes on all the risk for repayment. If you have bad credit, the lender may view you as a riskier borrower. The higher your credit score, the better rates and loan terms you’ll receive. 

But several online lenders offer personal loans for borrowers with low credit. Consider the following seven Credible partner lenders who work with borrowers with poor or fair credit scores:


With Avant, you can borrow from $2,000 up to $35,000 with repayment terms from two to five years. If you get approved for a loan from Avant, you could receive your funds as soon as the next business day.

  • Fixed rates: 9.95% to 35.99% APR
  • Loan amount: $2,000 to $35,000
  • Loan terms: Two to five years
  • Min. credit score: 550


LendingPoint looks beyond your credit score to determine if you qualify for a loan. They consider multiple aspects of your financial history, such as your employment and income, to determine your eligibility. With a LendingPoint personal loan, you can borrow $2,000 to $36,500 with terms from two to six years.

  • Fixed rates: 7.99% to 35.99% APR
  • Loan amount: $2,000 to $36,500
  • Loan terms: Two to six years
  • Min. credit score: 580

OneMain Financial

OneMain Financial doesn’t have a minimum credit score requirement, which means you might be able to qualify if you have poor or no credit. OneMain Financial will consider your financial history, credit history, income, expenses, and loan use to determine if you qualify for a loan.

You can borrow $1,500 up to $20,000 with repayment terms from two to five years with OneMain Financial.

  • Fixed rates: 18.00% to 35.99% APR
  • Loan amount: $1,500 to $20,000
  • Loan terms: Two to five years
  • Min. credit score: None


SoFi offers personal loans from $5,000 to $100,000 with terms from two to seven years. SoFi borrowers get access to several membership perks to help build credit, such as free credit monitoring and financial planning advice.

  • Fixed rates: 7.99% to 23.43% APR
  • Loan amount: $5,000 to $100,000
  • Loan terms: Two to seven years
  • Min. credit score: Does not disclose

Universal Credit

Universal Credit has a low minimum credit score requirement and offers resources like free credit monitoring to help borrowers build their credit. You can borrow $1,500 to $50,000 with repayment terms from three to five years and get your funds within one day of clearing verifications.

  • Fixed rates: 11.69% to 35.93% APR
  • Loan amount: $1,000 to $50,000
  • Loan terms: Three to five years
  • Min. credit score: 560


Upgrade offers personal loans from $1,000 to $50,000 with three- or five-year repayment terms. If you’re approved for an Upgrade loan, you could receive your funds within a day.

  • Fixed rates: 7.96% to 35.97% APR
  • Loan amount: $1,000 to $50,000
  • Loan terms: Three or five years
  • Min. credit score: 560


In addition to your credit score, Upstart will consider your education and employment history, debt-to-income ratio, and recent credit inquiries to determine your eligibility for a loan. You can borrow $1,000 to $50,000 with Upstart.

  • Fixed rates: 5.4% to 35.99% APR
  • Loan amount: $1,000 to $50,000
  • Loan terms: Three to five years
  • Min. credit score: 580

Credible lets you compare personal loan rates from various lenders in minutes — without affecting your credit.

Alternatives to dental loans

Dental loans aren’t the only way to finance procedures that aren’t covered by dental insurance. Here are a few more payment options to consider. 

Medical credit cards

Medical credit cards, such as CareCredit, are specifically designed to finance medical procedures. You’ll begin paying interest from the day you add charges to the card. Before applying for a medical credit card, make sure it covers dental procedures.  

0% APR credit cards

Some credit cards offer 0% APR for a specific time period. If you can pay off the balance within that time period, you won’t pay any interest. If you pay off the balance after the promotional period ends, you’ll pay interest on the remaining balance at the card’s regular rate. Make sure to read the fine print carefully — sometimes you’ll pay accrued interest from the day you made the first purchase.

Provider financing

Many dental offices offer financing, which often comes from third-party patient and consumer-financing services. Specific to dental offices, these provider-financing options can offer flexible terms and reasonable rates. Your credit score will play a part in what rates and terms you qualify for. 

But before you sign up, be sure to check the APR and fine print: Repayment terms may be lengthy, which means you’ll pay more interest. On the other hand, if you have a shorter repayment term, your monthly payments will be higher, but you’ll pay less in interest costs over time.