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Sometimes patients ask, “does dental insurance cover cosmetic dentistry?” We understand that everyone wants a confident, attractive smile but finances are often a practical consideration.
Many insurance plans cover restorative dentistry, but few cover cosmetic dentistry. Too often, people who would benefit from cosmetic dentistry incorrectly assume it is too expensive without insurance coverage.
This article is intended to serve as patient and consumer education. It isn’t a substitute for professional dental care. Whichever procedure you may consider, the first step is a consultation and examination to check to make sure you are a good candidate for that procedure and to learn which other options may be available.
We hope our patients choose their dentist and treatment plans based on individual needs rather than simply on insurance coverage. At the very least, talk with your dentist about the possibilities if there is something you would like to change. Information is power; in this case, it may be the power to transform your smile into one that makes you feel good.
Paying for Cosmetic Dentistry Without Insurance
Some people are pleasantly surprised when they talk with a dentist and discover that it fits their budget and needs.
The desired dental procedure may be surprisingly affordable considering how much money people invest into their appearance. Personal care products, clothing, boutique, gym memberships, skincare products, styling, and other cosmetic treatments cost money and are not covered by health insurance. Few have the same impact as cosmetic dentistry. Sometimes when patients consider how much they already spend, they decide they can afford the professional tooth whitening or the veneers they want.
In addition to dental insurance, there are a range of ways people fit cosmetic dentistry into their budget.
- Health Savings Accounts (HSA): An HSA allows you to save pre-tax for healthcare expenses insurance doesn’t cover. Some cover cosmetic dentistry procedures. Check the fine print if you have or are shopping for an HSA.
- Flexible financing: Some dentists offer flexible payment plans for elective dental treatments.
- Third-party financing: Check to see whether your cosmetic dentist participates in a financing credit program like CareCredit. CareCredit plans are interest-free as long as you pay the agreed monthly payment as planned for your procedures.
- Ask your dentist whether there is any cost-saving potential in combining cosmetic treatment with medically necessary dental procedures or other treatments.
What is Cosmetic Dentistry?
Sometimes the lines blur between cosmetic dentistry and restorative dentistry. For example, a crown may be essential to the health and stability of a tooth and also improve the tooth’s appearance at the same time.
Cosmetic dentists are general dentists who also specialize in using dentistry to create a more attractive or aesthetically pleasing appearance.
However, treatments that are purely for aesthetic purposes are generally categorized as cosmetic dentistry. Some examples include:
- Teeth Whitening: Treatments that visually whiten and brighten the color of the teeth.
- Veneers: Thin porcelain covers for the surface of the tooth.
- Shaping: Techniques that modify the shape in attractive ways.
- Dental Implants: A surgical procedure to replace a missing tooth.
- Gum Contouring: Removing extra soft tissue that may cover parts of the teeth.
- Crowns: Crowns fit over the tooth and may have medical or cosmetic purposes.
- Invisible Dental Aligners: While not purely cosmetic, some people are motivated to seek out Invisalign to improve their appearance.
Restorative dentistry refers to when a dentist restores someone’s smile after an accident, illness, trauma, or even tooth decay. In this case, the patient may have a medical need for procedures, which may also be considered cosmetic. The lines blur, and some insurance will fully or partially cover cosmetic dentistry. Talk with your dentist to discuss your needs and learn which category your procedures may fit.
Another area where the lines blur is straightening treatments like Invisalign. People often think of these treatments as cosmetic, but there are various medical reasons to correct crooked teeth, overbites, underbites, and other alignment concerns. Many insurance plans do cover or partially cover orthodontic treatment, including Invisalign.
In summary, when it comes to the cost of cosmetic dental care and whether your insurance covers the expense, it never hurts to have a conversation with your dental team. You just may be surprised and thrilled with the possibilities!
The Value of a Confident Smile
Whether you choose cosmetic dentistry or any cosmetic procedure is a highly personal choice.
For some, feeling better about their teeth empowers them to smile, laugh, and speak without feeling self-conscious. This confidence boost helps them thrive at work and socially. The value in terms of quality of life may be priceless, depending on how the patient feels.
This is why so many people opt for “smile makeovers” that combine two or more cosmetic dental or restorative procedures. For example, someone might combine tooth whitening, Invisalign, and a veneer or two for the smile they desire. Another person might just want a veneer to cosmetically correct a gap that makes them feel self-conscious.
After a consultation, people are often surprised how just a little work may make a difference. The intangible value of cosmetic dentistry varies by person. For someone who feels embarrassed to open their mouth, cosmetic dentistry may be “priceless.” For others who are healthy and feel confident, fixing small cosmetic issues may not be worth it.
As general dentists who are also cosmetic dentists, we are happy to discuss these options without judgment.
Next Steps: Schedule a Consultation
If you are considering cosmetic dentistry, your first step is to schedule a consultation. Your dentist will listen as you share your desires and suggest which options may be the right choice for you.
At Southview Dentistry, we love seeing our patients leave with joyful and confident smiles. If you are a Charlotte, NC resident considering cosmetic dentistry or a smile makeover, contact us today. We specialize in creating beautiful smiles.