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Inside Dentistry
October 2023
Volume 19, Issue 10

The Need to Help Patients Better Prepare for the Cost of Care

Bete Johnson on Synchrony’s Dental Lifetime of Care Study

Cost continues to be a leading barrier to dental patients receiving care. To better understand the impact of out-of-pocket costs on dental care and patient care decisions, Synchrony completed the Dental Lifetime of Care Study report in February 2023. The information garnered provides insights that will enable the dental community, including CareCredit, to better help patients and may help dental teams better educate patients on the cost of care, value of ongoing hygiene, and payment solutions that are available to make care more accessible.

According to the study's survey data, the out-of-pocket cost of dental care over a lifetime for an average adult aged 20 to 79 years ranges from $51,000 to more than $95,000 and does not include the cost of implants, orthodontics, or more complex dental needs, which could add thousands of dollars to the total. This range included respondents utilizing single coverage, couple coverage, and family coverage. Today, patients are more aware of the importance of their oral health and its connection to their overall health. However, only 26% of the respondents said that they actively save for dental expenses, and those who do reported saving only an average of $648. With this information, it is easier to understand why 59% of the survey respondents would ignore or delay treatment because of cost or choose a less costly procedure than what was recommended. In addition, 52% would delay general care and 37% would hold off on emergency treatment even if the cost was less than $1,000. Lastly, 54% said that cost was the reason they decided not to seek dental care in the past year.

Patients may also not be aware of how much their dental benefits will contribute to the cost of care. Half of the insured survey respondents did not know their annual maximum, and only a quarter knew their annual premium. Of those who did not have dental insurance, the majority (75%) indicated that dental care is not affordable.

The more informed and prepared that patients are, the easier it may be for them to make care decisions for a lifetime of oral health. To help patients better understand procedures, costs, and ways to plan and pay for care, CareCredit created WellU ( In addition, CareCredit is integrated into most practice management software to make financing simple, and practices can share their custom link so that patients can see if they prequalify for the CareCredit credit card with no impact to their credit score. Patients can then apply privately using their own smart devices. This frees up time for the dental team to have critical conversations with the patient regarding the value of care and how to prepare to pay for a lifetime of care.

Key Takeaways

1. Patients may not understand and may underestimate how their dental benefits contribute to the cost of care.

2. Only 26% of respondents to a Synchrony study said that they actively save for their dental care needs.

3. Cost is a significant influence on patients' healthcare decisions, and they may delay or decline care because they are unprepared to pay out-of-pocket fees.

4. Dental teams can help educate patients regarding available payment solutions and the value of care over a lifetime.

Bete Johnson
Senior Vice President, General Manager
CareCredit, a Synchrony Solution

Manufacturer Information
CareCredit • • 800-859-9975

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