Modern dentistry has diversified enormously during the past decades and going to a dentist can do a lot to improve your health, self-confidence, and appearance. From basic procedures, like fillings and tooth crowns, to invisible braces, bridges and dental implants, a dental clinic can provide an effective solution to any dental problem you might encounter. What’s more, modern technology in dental medicine, like lasers, ozone treatment or intraoral cameras, can help us get the perfect smile we all want easier and safer than ever.

Unfortunately, for some of us, going to a dentist is not about getting that “perfect Hollywood smile”; instead, it’s about stopping that excruciating pain that won’t even let us get a good night’s sleep. A simple case of tooth decay, if left untreated, can lead to an infection, which will cause severe, debilitating toothaches. The same goes for untreated gum disease: you’ll get terrible bouts of pain and bleeding which will make eating close to impossible. Let’s face it: dentistry is, after all, a medical field which treats diseases and medical issues which are classified as emergencies for many people. And when these people are living from paycheck to paycheck, like half of the Americans do according to a recent Federal Reserve Study, financing dental care can be particularly troublesome. The study, done since 2013 and reported in The Atlantic Daily, has shown that 47 percent of Americans could not cover an unexpected $400 fee without selling something or borrowing.

These numbers paint a stark picture of American society as a whole: millions of Americans face problems financing even medical emergencies, such as dental care. This is especially true for patients who don’t have good health insurance coverage, have postponed dental checkups and ignored their dental health for far too long. Let’s take a look at how you can finance dental work if you find yourself in dire straits:

Find discount dental work offers and deals

It may sound like a surprise for many, but dental clinics offer massive discounts from time to time — and you’ll never hear about them if you never look. There are a lot of clinics which offer discount coupons, cash payment discounts, special holiday offers, but also special offers for people with no insurance or first-time patients. Some dentists even work pro bono in special emergencies or cases of hardship.

Dental Care

In-house, no-interest payment plans

Many dentists offer in-house, no-interest payment plans for their patients, depending on procedures. These loans are not reported to the credit bureaus, so you won’t have to bother about credit ratings and other caveats. You’ll only have problems if you default on them, but that can also be negotiated with the clinic. You’ll just have to make sure the dental practice is reputable and has favorable reviews from other patients. Always ask beforehand about any payment plans or options available.

Healthcare credit cards

In recent years, banks and financial institutions have started issuing special credit cards for medical or dental expenses. They accept thousands of service providers nationwide and have a maximum credit limit depending on your financial situation. Interest rates hover around 15 percent, but there are special offers and promotional periods when no interest is charged. Similarly to other credit cards, healthcare credit cards have strict rules when it comes to late monthly payments; in some cases, the late payment interest can be as much as 25 percent. Healthcare credit cards are good for many patients low on funds, but can easily add up to your overall debt.

Get good preventive dental care

Try to fix dental issues as soon as you notice them. Don’t wait until the pain is unbearable. For instance, a filling is only $100, but if you let it untreated, it will turn into a serious condition. This means that your dentist will have to perform root canal procedure which can easily set you back $1,000 to $2,000. Having regular dental check-ups will also help you in the long run. The dentist will easily see if something is wrong and treat it immediately, for only a fraction of what it would cost. Keep in mind: when the pain is unbearable, the bill is unbearable.