Dental Implants with Low Monthly Payments

Dental implants provide multiple medical benefits along with their clear aesthetic benefits, but they’re not covered by the majority of dental insurance policies. Implant procedures range in price, but it’s not uncommon for implants to cost anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 per tooth, and this cost increases when restorative surgeries are necessary to prepare the jaw for dental implants. In order for dental implants to be successful, they should be placed by a qualified surgeon in a healthy mouth. If gum disease is present, this must be treated before implants can be placed, and if the bone has begun to deteriorate, bone grafts may be needed before implants can be safely placed. Each of these procedures adds to the cost of the overall implant treatment, and some of the procedures may be covered by dental insurance, but the implant procedure rarely is.

When cared for properly, dental implants remain anchored in the jaw, stimulating the growth of healthy bone and anchoring secure dental restorations that look, feel, and function just like lustrous, strong, natural teeth. However, the cost of dental implants can be problematic for people who can’t afford to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket. Financing options are available for these procedures, but most of these options require a positive credit score; this renders almost half of dental implant patients ineligible for financing. Fortunately, there are some options for patients with lower credit scores.

Before diving into credit options for patients who want dental implants, it’s helpful to understand the implant treatment itself. People who are missing one or more teeth have the option of replacing these teeth with a dental restoration that is designed to be permanent and that feels and functions just like healthy natural teeth. While the overall restorative procedure is often referred to as dental implant treatment, the actual dental implants are the posts that are surgically implanted into the bone in the jaw. These dental implant posts are made of a medical-grade biocompatible material, like titanium or zirconium, and are placed into the jaw where the roots of the natural teeth once were. As the bone heals around the implant, it fuses with the implant post, healing together in a process called osseointegration. Once healed, the implant is firmly, permanently anchored in the bone. The implant also serves to stimulate the bone tissue, encouraging its vitality and strength. After osseointegration has completed, the dental surgeon will expose the top of the implant post and affix an abutment to it; this abutment will serve as the socket that secures a dental crown or other dental restoration to the implant and holds it in the proper place. After the gums have healed around the abutment, the dental restoration is attached.

Because the health of the bone is integral to the success of a dental implant, if there is insufficient healthy bone in the jaw, dentists may need to perform bone graft treatments or other tissue-regeneration procedures to restore the bone before implants can be placed. Bone graft surgeries use small amounts of natural or synthetic bone to encourage healthy bone tissue to regenerate at a prospective surgical site, and guided tissue regeneration uses a tiny piece of membrane to dictate where the new bone tissue can and can’t grow. Once the implant is placed, it continues to stimulate healthy tissue growth and helps maintain the integrity of the bone. Bone loss in the jaw is often associated with advanced gum disease, or periodontitis. When periodontitis is present, it must be treated before implants can be placed; treatment for periodontitis is usually covered by dental insurance providers. The primary choice of treatment for periodontitis is a less-invasive procedure called scaling and root planing. In this procedure, the periodontist uses clinical instruments, which could include lasers or ultrasonic devices to remove bacteria and tartar from surfaces in the mouth both above and below the gum line. Then, the dentist smooths the surfaces of the tooth roots, removing any areas that could collect bacterial buildup and creating a clean slate for the gums to reattach to the surfaces of the teeth.

Sometimes, the oral cavity can be restored to health with scaling and root planing, but sometimes additional surgical procedures are necessary. For flap surgery, which is also called pocket reduction surgery, the periodontist will make small cuts in the gums, lifting away sections of gum tissue to expose more of the roots to allow for more thorough cleaning. If the bone that is exposed has changed shape due to gum disease and tooth loss, its surface may be reshaped before the periodontist sutures the gum tissue back into place. This helps keep bacteria out of tight crevices and can make it easier to effectively clean the teeth and gums and maintain their health. If significant gum tissue was lost to infection, it can be restored and reinforced with soft tissue grafts, using tissue taken from the roof of the mouth. This can improve the appearance of the smile and can also help protect the tooth roots and reduce additional recession of the gums. Bone grafts and other tissue-regeneration procedures help restore the gum to health and prepare the jaw to effectively and safely support dental implants, and proper oral hygiene following dental implant treatment helps ensure their long-term success.

Clearly, even with insurance coverage for some of the treatments, the potential extent of medical procedures associated with dental implant treatment could place a financial burden on a patient. Many patients rely on standard medical lenders, like CareCredit, to pay for out-of-pocket expenses associated with dental implants. These lenders require a credit score above 620 in order to approve financing, with no flexibility. Subprime lenders review more than just the patient’s credit score to determine the risk in lending to the patient. These lenders look at factors like income and history of employment and offer loans based on a broader financial profile. However, these loans are often accompanied by high interest rates and inflated origination fees, increasing the overall financial strain on the patient.

Patients with lower credit scores could also apply for personal loans, which can be unsecured or secured. Secured loans are secured with collateral, an asset owned by the patient like a boat, car, or property. The value of the collateral could increase the loan amount and increase the likelihood of the loan being approved. If the patient can’t pay the loan, the lender could seize the collateral. Personal loans that are unsecured aren’t dependent upon collateral, and when these are unpaid, they are sent to collection agencies, where repayment rates increase and the patient’s credit score is further damaged. It’s more difficult to qualify for an unsecured personal loan, since there’s greater risk for the lender, and patients who don’t qualify for standard loans may or may not qualify for unsecured personal loans.

A third option that works for all patients, regardless of credit score, is the pay-over-time loan. These loans are offered by lenders like Healthcare Finance Direct. Healthcare Finance Direct uses an underwriting process driven by data, considering multiple data points to arrive at a loan agreement that includes a down payment. This data is also used to determine an appropriate interest rate that factors in risk to the lender. Healthcare Finance Direct and similar lending organizations pair with dental offices, which allows patients to pay, and receive customer support when needed, directly through a payment portal linked to the dental office. If you’re interested in dental implants but you’re concerned about your ability to finance them, work with a dentist who pairs with a lender like Healthcare Finance Direct; you may be able to find a manageable payment option and be on your way to an attractive smile and an improved quality of life.

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