Guide to Dental Loans

By Kim Franke-Folstad · May 04, 2022 · 9 minute read

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Guide to Dental Loans

Finding out you need dental work can be scary — and scary expensive. Still, the pain and the price could get even worse if you put off getting care. And sometimes delaying just isn’t an option.

If you don’t have enough money stashed away in your emergency fund, and your insurance won’t cover all your costs, you may want to chew on the pros and cons of taking out a dental loan.

What Are Dental Loans?

Medical financing loans are personal loans that are used to pay for a variety of medical expenses, including dental work and related expenses.

Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed by the upfront cost of a root canal or crown, or you expect to pay a substantial amount over time for braces, aligners, or implants, a dental loan can be a quick and convenient way to get the financing you need.

With a dental loan, you can borrow money to pay for your care, then make monthly payments until the loan balance is paid off.

How Do Dental Loans Work?

Dental loans are usually unsecured personal loans, which means you don’t have to put up collateral to secure the loan. Approval for a loan for dental work will be based on your creditworthiness.

If you qualify, you’ll receive a lump sum of money that’s to be repaid in monthly installments consisting of principal and interest. Since dental loans typically have fixed interest rates, your payments should be the same amount each month throughout the repayment period.

What Can Dental Loans Be Used For?

You typically can use a personal loan to pay for just about anything as long as it’s legal and within the terms of your loan agreement. For example, you can use a personal loan to pay for wedding expenses, home improvements, or legal fees.

Costs related to your dental care are included in common uses for personal loans. These might include treatment — even for expensive elective or cosmetic procedures that may not be covered completely or at all by dental insurance, over-the-counter or prescription medications you might require, transportation. You can even use the funds for the milkshake and soup you might need after your procedure.

Here are approximate costs for some common procedures that could be paid for with a dental loan:

Porcelain Crown

The cost of a crown can vary based on the materials used to make it, as well as the size, shape, and location of the tooth that’s being replaced. Costs for an all-porcelain crown can range from $800 to $3,000. Dental insurance may cover some of that expense, unless the crown is strictly for cosmetic purposes.

Whitening

A basic teeth cleaning may be covered by dental insurance as part of your annual exam. But an in-office teeth bleaching (which can cost $300 to $500 or more) or a laser whitening (which averages $1,000), likely won’t be covered by insurance.

Root Canal

The cost of a root canal could range from about $700 to $1,800 if you don’t have dental insurance. The cost can depend on several factors, including which tooth is being worked on and if the work is done by a specialist. Insurance may take the cost down to between $200 and $1,500.

Aligners

Teeth aligners can be pretty pricey no matter which type you buy, but if you go with an in-office treatment, you can expect to pay between $2,500 and $8,000. At-home brands range from about $1,200 to $3,300. Your insurance provider may pay for some of those costs, but you should check your coverage before ordering.

Veneers

Veneers can range from $470 to $2,000 per tooth, depending on the type and how much prep work is involved. The cost generally is not covered by dental insurance.

Typical Dental Loan Application Process

Your dentist may offer an in-house financing plan to help with costs — especially if he or she specializes in cosmetic procedures. Or the practice may partner with a lender who provides these types of loans. You aren’t obligated to use your dentist’s financing plan, but you may want to check out what the practice is offering. You also can go online to compare dental loan offers from traditional and online lenders.

Compare Offers: Choosing the Right Loan

When you start shopping for loans for dental work, you can go to individual lenders’ websites to see what they have to offer or use a comparison site to conveniently check out multiple lenders.

Getting prequalified with a few different lenders can help you get the clearest idea of what’s available and what’s best for your needs. Lenders typically use a soft credit pull during the prequalification process, so it won’t affect your credit score.

Here are a few things to watch for as you shop for financing:

Annual Percentage Rate

A loan’s annual percentage rate (APR) tells you the amount of interest you can expect to pay on your loan over the course of one year, including any fees or charges you might incur. Because it gives you a complete picture of the cost of the loan (as opposed to just looking at the interest rate), the APR can be a useful tool for comparing various loan offers.

Recommended: APR vs. Interest Rate

Fees

Fees can add up quickly, and they can add to the cost of your loan. Some common fees to look out for could include an application fee, origination fee, late payment fee, returned payment fee, and a prepayment penalty. Low-fee or fee-free loans may save you money over the life of the loan.

Loan Amounts

Some lenders may have loan minimums that require you to borrow more than you need. Before you go loan shopping, you may want to get dental procedure cost estimates to get an idea of how much you’ll have to borrow. Then you can look for lenders who are willing to lend that amount.

Loan Terms

Another important factor to consider is the loan term, or how long you’ll be given to repay the money you’ve borrowed. Of course, you’ll want to find a loan term that feels comfortable (a longer-term can equal lower payments). But a longer-term also could increase the amount you pay in interest over the life of the loan. You may want to think about how the loan length could affect your future financial goals.

Eligibility Requirements

Before you settle on a particular personal loan for dental work, you may want to check out the lender’s eligibility requirements. In the process of checking your personal loan rate, most sites will review your credit scores, credit history, income, and other personal financial information to determine whether you qualify for a particular interest rate or other loan terms.

Many lenders will accept a fair credit score (a FICO® Score of 580 to 669 is considered fair), but a good FICO Score (670 to 739) could qualify you for a more favorable interest rate and other terms. If you have a poor score (lower than 580), lenders may consider you to be a high lending risk, which could affect your eligibility. You may be able to find a loan, but the interest rate will likely be more expensive.

Approval and Funding Timeline

If you can’t get your treatment until you can pay for it — and you need it soon — a quick approval time and rapid funding also could be an important considerations. One of the major pluses of using an online lender can be the convenience and fast application time. If you have all your information ready, it can be easy to apply using an online form. And if you qualify, the money generally can be available within a few days.

Customer Service

Does the lender have a reputation for good customer service? You may want to check into how various lenders deal with consumer questions and problems. At the same time, you can see if there are any perks to building a relationship with a lender that might benefit you in the future.

Applying for a Dental Loan

If you find a lender and loan terms you like, and you’re ready to apply, your next step will be to complete a formal application. You can expect to be asked to verify your identity, income, and current address, and it can make things easier if you gather up the necessary documents ahead of time. You’ll probably need your driver’s license, Social Security number, recent pay stubs and/or bank statements, and a utility bill or some other proof of address.

Once you apply, most lenders will do a hard credit check, which may cause your credit score to drop by a few points temporarily. The lender will evaluate your ability to repay the loan and, if you qualify, your loan will be funded.

Pros and Cons of Dental Loans

Whether you need money for a one-time emergency procedure or for a series of treatments that could add up to a big expense, a dental loan may be an option worth considering. Here are some pros and cons that could help you decide if a personal loan makes sense for your situation:

Pros

Convenient Online Comparison

Applying for a personal loan online can be convenient and quick. Many lenders offer personal loans that can be used for dental treatment, so you can shop for the loan amount and terms that best suit your needs.You may be able to get your approval within a few hours (maybe even a few minutes) and you could receive your money within a few days.

Competitive Terms

If you have a solid credit history, a stable income, and fair or better credit scores, you may qualify for a competitive interest rate and a repayment period you feel comfortable with. (The interest rate on a dental loan is typically lower than the interest rate on a credit card.)

Fixed Payments

With a dental loan, borrowers typically receive a lump sum of money that is repaid in fixed monthly payments. This can make it easier to budget and manage your payments.

Cons

Fees and Penalties

Some dental treatment loans come with fees and penalties that can drive up the overall cost of borrowing. You may be able to keep your costs down, though, by finding a low- or no-fee loan.

Alternatives May Cost Less

If you can qualify for a credit card with a low or 0% promotional rate for purchases, it may be a less expensive way to borrow money — at least for a while. Zero-interest credit cards charge no interest during an introductory period, which typically lasts from six to 18 months. Paying the balance in full within the promotional period is essential to making the most of an offer like this.

Fixed Payments

Having a fixed monthly payment can make budgeting easier, but it doesn’t provide flexibility if you can’t make that payment for some reason. A different financing option, such as a credit card, might offer more adaptable minimum monthly payments.

Pros and Cons of Dental Loans

Pros

Cons

Easy to compare lenders online. Some dental loans have fees and penalties that can increase the overall cost.
Terms are competitive and interest rates are generally lower than on credit cards. Alternatives like credit cards with a 0% interest introductory rate may be less expensive.
Fixed monthly payments can make it easy to budget for the expense. Fixed payments don’t allow for budget shortfalls.

Alternatives to Personal Loans

If you can’t afford the dental work you need, there are options besides dental loans that you might want to check out. A few to consider include:

Credit Cards

If you already have a low-interest credit card, you may want to compare the interest you’d pay if you used that card vs. the cost of a dental loan. Or you might want to consider the pros and cons of applying for a low or 0% introductory-rate credit card — if you think you can pay off the balance during the designated promotional period. If you end up using a high percentage of your available credit, however, your credit score could be negatively affected.

Dental Office Financing

Your dentist may offer some type of in-house financing to patients who can’t afford the treatments they want or need. The practice might partner with a lender that offers loans for dental procedures, for example, or the dental office might suggest a medical credit card with a low or 0% introductory rate. These offers may be worth reviewing and comparing to similar options, as long as you’re clear on all the repayment terms.

Grants

There are grant programs aimed at helping seniors, adults and children living in low-income households, and those who have special needs. The Dental Lifeline Network is a nonprofit organization that provides access to dental care for people who can’t afford it. Some dentists also may offer partial grants to attract new patients who need extensive and expensive treatment.

Explore Personal and Dental Loans with SoFi

A dental loan can be a quick and convenient solution if you need cash to pay for an unexpected dental procedure or an elective treatment you’ve been thinking about for a while (like braces, aligners or implants). Whether you’re considering an expensive cosmetic procedure or you need a crown or root canal ASAP, SoFi may offer a personal loan rate that works for your unique financial situation.

There are no fees with SoFi Personal Loans, and borrowers have access to customer support seven days a week. The application can be completed online, and you can check your rate in just one minute.

Take the pain out of dental costs and check your rates on a personal loan from SoFi

FAQ

What credit score do you need for dental implant loans?

Many lenders will offer a dental loan to a borrower with a fair credit score. (A FICO Score of 580 to 669 is considered fair). But a good FICO Score (670 to 739) could improve your interest rate and other terms. If you have a poor score (lower than 580), lenders may consider you to be a higher risk, which could affect your eligibility.

Can you get your teeth fixed with no money?

You may be able to find a research clinic or university dental program that provides free services to volunteer patients who need care. And some dental practices may occasionally offer free care to low-income patients. There are also grants that could help cover costs.

Can you put dental work on a credit card?

Yes, you can use a regular credit card or a medical credit card to pay for dental work. But if you come close to using up the balance on your card, it could affect your credit utilization ratio, which can have a negative impact on your credit scores.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Photo credit: iStock/Sanga Park
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