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Dental Insurance Pros and Cons

Monday, June 21st

Dental Insurance Pros and Cons

There was a time when a good, comprehensive healthcare package offered through an employer included not only healthcare coverage, but also dental coverage. Times are changing, and more employers are eliminating dental coverage as part of an effort to reduce healthcare costs.

At the same time, the cost for annual dental care is on the rise, with a routine dental visit - which includes an examination and cleaning - costing anywhere from $100 to $200, depending on location. Add in x-rays, fillings for cavities and the occasional (and dreaded) root canal, and an individual can leave a dentist's office owing well over $500 for services rendered.

Thankfully, there is the option of dental insurance. Most plans, which cost anywhere from $7 to $50 a month, cover preventative oral healthcare procedures, as well as providing partial reimbursement for other dental procedures such as cavity fillings and diagnostic services.

How do you know if dental insurance is right for you?

First consider how much you spend on dental care annually. If you are spending more than $1,500 to provide dental services to yourself and your family, then it may be time to consider dental insurance. If you have ongoing dental issues, such as receding gum lines, then dental insurance is probably a good deal to help offset any future costs.

Let's discuss in full detail the pros and cons of having dental insurance.

First, let's talk about the pros of having dental insurance.

  • Preventative Care Coverage. Most dental plans that are worth their salt will cover at least two annual exams and cleaning per year. For most people, that is all the care they require beyond the occasional cavity filling. If you are one of those people who have a generally healthy mouth, you will want to calculate the cost of paying for out-of-pocket care annually, versus the monthly or yearly premium for your dental insurance plan. Some plans only provide coverage at 80 or 90 percent, even once a deductible has been met. Other plans have co-pays in addition to premiums. Add up all of those costs to determine if you would save any money with dental insurance or if it is best to keep paying on your own as services are needed.
  • Children. If you have children in your household who are not insured through you or your spouse's employer, dental insurance can be a lifesaver. Children are more prone to cavities and other dental issues as they continue to shed their baby teeth and make way for the permanent set. Most dental plans which cover children will provide two to three exams and cleanings per year, as well as cover the cost of dental sealants, which are designed to help prevent tooth decay. Children also are more prone to the kinds of accidents which can damage their teeth, making them prime candidates for dental insurance.

Now let's discuss some of the cons of dental insurance.

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Dental Insurance Plan FAQ

If you already have dental insurance through your employer, you won't need to get coverage separately. But, if you're like the millions of Americans who don't have access to dental coverage through their job, it's worth it to consider buying a dental plan privately. Oral health is very important in your overall health, and twice-yearly checkups are recommended for everyone. Having dental insurance can make routine visits and services like root canals and cavity fillings much less expensive.
That will depend on the plan you choose, but most cover routine well visits like cleanings and X-rays. You'll also typically have coverage for fillings, crowns and other issues with your teeth; how much you'll pay out of pocket is based on your specific plan limits for each procedure and your total annual limit.
Many dental insurance plans don't cover removal of wisdom teeth or orthodontic treatments. However, coverage with higher premiums may include those procedures; if you've got multiple children in the family who might need them, it's worth finding a plan that pays for some or all of it.
You might be surprised at how affordable it is. Many individuals and families can get good coverage for less than $20/month.
You've got a lot of options. First, determine if you need individual or family coverage. Next, decide how quickly you want your dental insurance to start: some let you begin your plan on the same day, while others may have a delay of a few days or more. Then, choose what level of coverage you need and select the dental insurance plan that fits your needs and your budget!
Possibly. Most dentists accept insurance, but not necessarily all providers and plans. If you have a dentist you love, ask him or her which plans they take (and even which ones they like working with the most!); you can choose your insurance based on keeping your dentist.
As you might guess, dental insurance is traditional coverage that usually includes 100% of the cost of two preventative visits each year, lowers the cost of dental procedures, and often has an annual maximum dollar amount of coverage per year. Discount dental plans usually are lower in cost but give you less coverage: you may only save 10% on the standard cost for a filling or routine X-rays, and you will probably be limited to a single dentist instead of a network.
Absolutely. Most of today's most popular providers of dental insurance make it easy to pick a plan and pay for it online. If you don't have a specific dentist or insurer in mind, you might want to try using a referral site that gives you quotes from multiple companies and lets you compare your options side-by-side.
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