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Monday, March 1, 2010

What's the Cost of a Smile?

Cosmetic changes to your smile can be a little as $125 for bonding to repair a chip, to $10,000 for porcelain veneers, to $35,000 and up for full mouth rehabilitation. Clearly, this is an investment - not something to be done on a whim.

Many people who know they can benefit from cosmetic dentistry put it off because they are concerned about the cost. A fair concern, but one that is easily addressed.

First, consider that your insurance may be able to cover some of the cost of your treatment plan. While dental benefits are notoriously small (typically no more than $2,000 per year), and don't usually cover elective procedures, it is possible that some of your work will be covered. Ask your dentist's office team to help you maximize your benefits.

After that option has been exhausted, your dentist will likely offer several payment options. Cash is always welcome, but so are credit cards. Some offices allow you to pay for the treatment in thirds, billing your credit card once a month.

If your treatment plan is larger, say over $5,000, you may wish to finance the fee. You can look into a personal loan with your own bank, or a home equity loan, but most dental offices use a third party billing service.

The office manager will help you figure out several payment plans that will fit your budget, allowing you to extend the payments for a year (often with no interest if paid in full within 12 months!) or longer.

Once you complete a credit application, the office manager will contact the financing company to see if you are approved. Once approved, you sign an agreement, and you're home free! Your new smile can now begin!

Many patients wonder if it's worth it to finance a new smile. It all depends on what is most important to you. If your existing smile has been holding you back in life, it's definitely worth it. Signs that your smile has had a negative impact on your life include:

Lack of career advancement - you may not display the confidence you need to get noticed at work, or to close those important deals.

Few friends - It's hard to be friends with someone who has a poor self image. Often the lack of a smile will keep you from approaching new people or joining a group.

No romance - Think about what first attracts you to a romantic partner. Are they friendly, approachable, and attractive? A smile conveys all those things. If you don't feel great about flashing a grin, it's going to be a lot harder to get their attention.

Life is for living - so let the world know how happy you are by smiling wide! And know that this is an investment in more than just teeth. It's an investment in you.