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Paying a Large Dental Bill

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I have a huge dental bill. How can I find money or a way to work this out? I love my dentist and he has been working with me. I have applied for disability with hopes to receive that by November, but he can't work on my teeth until I pay more on my balance. Any ideas?

By Sue from Warsaw, VA

Recent Answers

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By Jamie [7]03/01/2011

Check your local universities. I live by the University of MN, and they have a dental school. its much cheaper to get dental work done there, and they dentist are in their last years of school, very well trained and supervised.

By Cindy [3]02/24/2011

Hello Sue. First of all, I appreciate you asking such good questions, but IMHO some (not all) of the responses on this thread are not offering sound advice.

Having a good doctor/dentist patient relationship is very important and you need to work to keep that relationship on firm ground. However . . . as much as these good medical professionals want to help, they still need your payment for their services. They have their own bills to pay, families to feed, etc., and can't do so if you are not paying for your services. Government (tax payer) reimbursement does not always cover the doctor's actual cost of doing business for these professionals and our American government has no Constitutional right to demand they do so at the expense of their own livelihoods.

Second, there is no such thing as "Free Government Grants". You may not be responsible for repaying them, but someone else surely is. Most times it's the middle class person or family making enough money to not be considered in the "poverty level", but never making enough money to afford the same benefits as the "government grant recipients."

Think about it . . . an average middle class person can't afford to pay for crowns or dentures either without some sort of arrangement or loan with the dentist, but as law abiding citizens contributing to the tax base, his or her tax dollars are being used to pay for a stranger's crowns or dentures and he or she or their children are often not eligible for "Free Government Grant" money. What's free or fair about that?

Third, you can of course take a lot of tax deductions for medical expenses but not without first contributing to actually paying taxes; and second, seldom without the additional cost of hiring a tax accountant to accurately interpret what is and isn't allowed in the U.S. Tax Code.

Again, Sue, I think your questions are legitimate and my best suggestion is to talk with your dentist honestly. Offer to pay at the very least $5.00 - $10.00 a week for prior services and do so religiously. Ask about loan financing that many dental offices are happy to help you look into. (Some even have an office business manager that can act as a liaison.)

If you are eligible for disability but have to wait until November for any acknowledgment of such, it's unreasonable to expect your dentist to suffer along with you until then (working without payment of any kind).

Talk frankly with your dentist and see if the two of you can come up with a good plan that will keep you pain free, but not necessarily with pearly white perfect teeth. As well, as Deeli stated, if this doesn't work out, find a sliding scale dental service that can work with your immediate or emergency needs.

Again, "Free Government Grants" are not "free". Someone, probably someone else who is doing without, is paying for these grants. I wish you much insight, good health, and success.

By Anonymous [848]02/23/2011

Sue, In the mid-70's I had to have huge amounts of dental work done because I slipped and fell when I was seven and landed mouth first on the edge of a cement curb. Anyway, once I was in my early twenties the pain became unbearable and I had to have several root canals, an apeoectomy, 2 caps, and a bridge (it's normal that problems and pain doesn't occur until early adulthood from this type of injury).

Anyway, the place I was working for at the time closed up shop and hence I lost my dental insurance before all the work was finished. It had to be done so the dentist did it but thereafter he said the same to me which was that there could be no more work done after the original problems were finished until it was paid in full.

Well, he worked with me and it took me years to pay him off and in the meantime I went to dental clinics that would work with me on a sliding scale according to my earnings for general upkeep. Eventually, I was able to go back to that original dentist and he remained my dentist for a couple more years (payment in full at time of service even if it meant I had to save for it first) before I moved away.

Please know you are not alone! Just do the best you can and even if all you can pay the dentist is $5.00 a month for awhile please do so. I am sure your dentist will be accepting and especially if he/she knows you've become disabled. I too am disabled now and neither Medicaid nor Medicare will cover dental upkeep so I am again going to a sliding scale clinic. They are compassionate and will help you keep your teeth in good care. Good luck to you in receiving disability and be good to yourself.

Hawaiihibou, I have a question to ask you. Have you ever wondered just who pays for that 'Free Federal Grant Money'? This 'you can take advantage/entitlementment attitude' is much of why our country is going bankrupt. :-( In my heart, true and wise Hibou's wouldn't even think do this kind of thing.

By Dorothy [1]02/23/2011

If you have a big medical bill that you are forced to pay - at least be sure to claim medical deductions when filing taxes!

I've done this for a few years and it's awesome. Once I knew I would be able to claim medical deductions, you can add on all sorts of things - mileage to/from the doctor, contact lenses, glasses, contact lens solutions, co-pays, prescriptions... the list goes on and on.

If it's a really big bill, it may be in your best interest to split the bill over 2 years - consult a tax person with that question.

Here's the irs site link: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p502/ar02.html#en_US_publink1000178851

By Patricia Eldridge02/23/2011

Go to: www.carecredit.com. They finance healthcare bills, and you can make monthly payments.
Please don't agree to any dental work that you don't absolutely need. Sometimes dentists try to talk you into procedures that are purely cosmetic, and it's hard to make rational decisions when you are sitting in a dentists chair. Before you have more work done, ask yourself if it's really necessary.

By Joan [13]02/23/2011

When I was married to a man who had a good paying job, but wouldn't spend any of the money on my teeth, my teeth got completely ruined. Occasionally when I had a tooth ache I could have one pulled, but that was it(he got dentures before he was 30). For years I lived with no teeth, broken off teeth and roots. When we sold our house in 1983 due to a divorce, the first thing I did with my share of the money was get dentures. But to this day I can still eat some foods better without any teeth than with the dentures. I see lots of people, both men and women running around without teeth. I'm telling you this just to point out that sometimes people have to go without dental work.

By Krissttina Isobe [5]02/10/2011

Hi: when life hands you tough breaks you can check for grants. Government grants are free money from the federal government. Benefits.gov is one place from the federal government and they ask you questions and best to ask to e-mail page when done so you can keep your grant findings. Good luck all of you. Lets hope our boat sails to free grant money. I too have dental payments costing me over 1,000. Yikes!

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