These days, a visit to the dentist is more likely to leave a gaping hole in your wallet than a gap in your teeth. If you’re not fortunate enough to have medical aid that includes dental benefits (and few are), finding the funds to cover the costs of dentistry can be a challenge.
Here we consider the current costs of dentistry in South Africa and explore asset-based loans as a fast, straightforward medical finance option.
The costs of routine dental procedures in South Africa
Overall, dental procedures are still cheaper in South Africa than in most European countries or in the UK or the United States. However, relative to typical South African incomes, even routine dentistry is very expensive.
The average cost of a dental consultation is currently R400 to R500, and you can expect to pay up to:
- R850 for a filling
- R1 300 for an extraction
- R5 900 for a crown
- R14 000 for dentures.
Cosmetic dentistry is even more expensive. Teeth whitening is likely to set you back around R6 800, and the average cost of veneers is roughly R5 900.
What South Africans pay for specialised dentistry
Upgrade to specialised dentistry or orthodontics, and average dental fees skyrocket.
On average, South Africans are currently charged:
- R2 300 for root canal treatment
- R14 700 per tooth implant
- R34 400 for a bridge
- R33 000 for braces.
Some dentists charge much lower rates than indicated by the averages. However, many dentists with fancier practices – including the latest, high-tech equipment and multiple support staff – charge rates that are significantly higher.
Advice for keeping control of dental costs
If you don’t have a medical safety net or excess funds available, how do you cover punitively high dental expenses? It’s possible to hold off on certain purely cosmetic procedures, but other dentistry is essential to people’s well-being.
Always make sure your dentist tells you exactly what any procedure will cost before you agree to go ahead so you know what to expect.
If you’re facing a dental bill you can’t afford, it’s a good idea to:
- discuss the situation with your dentist, who might offer a less expensive alternative or a significant discount
- if your dentist is unable to help, shop around for a dentist you can trust but who’ll charge a lot less.
Once you’ve tried these approaches, you may decide to secure a loan to get necessary dental work done.
Medical finance: what are your options?
You can choose from various types of loans to cover the costs of dental care. A few of the more popular medical finance options you can use are personal or bank loans, loans offered expressly for dental work and asset-based loans, like those we offer at lamna.
Personal loans for dental care
Banks and other financial institutions offer short-term personal loans. These provide funds you can use at your discretion, to cover any expenses you choose. Depending on the amount of money you want to borrow, you’ll either have to provide security for the loan or submit your credit record and recent pay slips or bank statements.
The loan approval process can be time-consuming, and there’s no guarantee that your loan application will be accepted.
Most dentists demand that you settle your accounts immediately, so this form of loan is unlikely to be helpful if you need dental work urgently.
Dental loans are a relatively new medical finance option. They’re designed specifically to cover the costs of orthodontic, cosmetic and basic dentistry, up to a specified limit – often in the region of R150 000.
You don’t have to provide collateral or a down payment. However, dental loans are granted only after a full credit assessment and an applicant affordability calculation. If your credit record is impaired, your monthly earnings are low or you’re unemployed, it’s unlikely you’ll qualify. You also won’t be able to apply for this loan type if you’re currently under debt review.
If eligible for a dental loan, you’ll have to pay a one-off initiation fee. You’ll also have to settle the outstanding amount plus interest over an agreed term of between 12 to 48 months.
In summary, a dental loan is suitable only for South Africans who have a solid credit record and a steady stream of income.
Asset-based loans for dental care
Like a personal loan, an asset-based loan provides funds you can use for any purpose you choose – including medical finance or funds for dental costs.
In the case of an asset-based loan, you offer an asset – such as a vehicle, luxury watch or jewellery – as collateral. The loan amount you’re offered will depend on the value of the asset.
Because the loan is secured by the asset, there’s no need for credit checks or proof of employment, or for a time-consuming application process. The full loan process can be completed on the same day you apply, and you can then expect the funds in your account immediately.
At lamna, we offer fast, discreet loans against the value of a wide range of assets, from luxury watches and jewellery to vehicles or artwork. For more information about using an asset to secure a short-term loan – such as a loan for dental care – contact us on 086 111 2866 or simply complete and submit our online application form.