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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 Ė which includes an examination and cleaning Ė 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 dentistís 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.

Letís discuss in full detail the pros and cons of having dental insurance.

First, letís 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 spouseís 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 letís discuss some of the cons of dental insurance.

  • Pre-existing condition coverage. Like healthcare insurance, most dental plans do not cover pre-existing dental conditions. So if you have a cavity now, and decide to purchase dental insurance to help cover the costs of fixing it, you will be out of luck. Most dental insurers require an individual to receive a full dental check up prior to being insured. Any dental issues noted at the time of that exam will be considered exclusionary from the dental insurance plan. This is perhaps the biggest disadvantage to any dental insurance plan.
  • Cosmetic procedures. You will be hard-pressed to find a dental insurance plan which covers what are considered to be cosmetic procedures. These include dentures, orthodontics and teeth-whitening procedures. If any of these items are part of your routine dental care, then dental insurance will not cover the cost and likely will be a waste of your money.

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