Dental insurance: Is it necessary?

There is no denying the cost of dental care, particularly when extensive work is required. As a result, a lot of people eventually wonder whether they should purchase dental insurance. You might need to buy it on your own if your employer does not provide coverage. However, if your plan doesn’t suit your needs, purchasing dental insurance separately may be a waste of money.

Let’s examine how to examine various plans to see if dental insurance is the best option for you.



  • Individual dental insurance policies are occasionally more expensive than employer-sponsored group policies.
  • There is typically an annual maximum limit on the coverage, and there are significant co-insurance costs for several operations.
  • Orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry are two operations that are not at all covered by insurance.


Introduction to Dental Insurance

Here is a description of how individual dental insurance functions first. Based on the dentists you want to be able to see and how much you can afford to pay, you choose a plan.

  • You can select one of the less expensive plans if the dentist you already use and like is covered by your insurance carrier.
  • You can select any dentist in the network if you don’t already have one, and you can also choose a less-priced plan if you don’t have a dentist at all.
  • Even while you can still get insurance even if your current dentist isn’t covered by it, going to an out-of-network dentist will cost you much more, possibly to the point where having insurance won’t be worth it.

The insurance provider, your location, and the plan you select will all affect the monthly premiums. The average monthly premium for most people will be roughly $50. 1 This implies that even if you don’t have any dental care, you still spend $600 annually.

Dental insurance: Is it worthwhile?

You may be correct in your assumption that the majority of people do not benefit from the majority of insurance options. After all, all insurance businesses would cease to exist if they didn’t turn a profit. You are protected by insurance in the worst-case situation.

However, dental insurance differs greatly from the majority of other types of insurance. Nearly no one can afford the danger of not having insurance, for instance, whether it comes to health insurance or property insurance. Both the potential negative and the possible upside of dental insurance are quite minimal.

In a good year, when you simply require the typical checkups, cleanings, and X-rays that make up effective preventative care, having dental insurance could cost you money. For instance, if you paid for these services out of pocket, you might spend about $400 over the course of the year, whereas paying insurance premiums might cost you $600.

A category of people who might benefit from signing up for dental insurance is older individuals. Seniors’ dental insurance is comparable to other people’s policies, but it concentrates on the kinds of coverage that seniors may require.

Crowns, root canals, dentures, and tooth replacements are a few of these. Seniors are more likely to require one or more of these procedures even though these coverages are not specific to the elderly. You should be aware that seniors who are on Medicare might need a different dental insurance plan than those who are not.


When you need it, will it be there?

What happens if you need work done? Your dentist might tell you that you require several fillings, a root canal, and a crown in a really poor year. You will also be responsible for paying for your regular cleanings, exams, and X-rays. Right now is the perfect moment to get insurance. Depends, really. 2

Yearly Maximum

Unfortunately, you might not be able to rely on your insurance as much as you thought. Low annual maximums of about $1,000 are common in several dental insurance plans (this will vary by plan and provider, of course). Once your annual dental expenses reach $1,000, you’re obligated to pay the remaining balance in full. Over $1,000 in treatment costs will not be covered by the insurance.

As an advantage of having insurance, you might still pay a lower negotiated charge for the work you require, although even negotiated fees might be rather substantial. For instance, if the dentist normally charges $150 for a filling, the negotiated rate might be $100.

In this case, your normal oral care and fillings may consume the majority or the entire amount of your annual maximum, meaning that only a portion of your significant dental work may actually be covered. You may still need to pay $1,000 to $2,000 out of pocket in addition to your $600 in premiums each year.

Costs of Co-Insurance

Additionally, the policyholder’s portion of pricey procedures like crowns, bridges, and implants typically comes to a staggering 50%, while preventative maintenance may only require a 0% co-insurance fee, fillings, root canals, and extractions may only require a 20% co-insurance fee.

In the business, this is referred to as the 100-80-50 coverage structure. 3 When you need the pricy procedure, even if you haven’t reached your annual maximum, you’ll still have to pay several hundred dollars for it.

What Is Not Included

Even if you try to claim that you require a procedure to ease emotional pain and suffering, dental insurance rarely pays for pricey procedures like orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry. After taking into account your biannual cleanings and tests, the annual maximums still frequently prevent you from saving much, if anything. 

Most dental insurance policies have a waiting period, after which small procedures are usually covered for three months and big ones for a year.

Waiting Will Not Help

If you believe that you’ll wait to buy dental insurance until you actually need it, think again. This tactic won’t work because of what’s known as a waiting or probationary period (you didn’t really believe you had discovered a way to fool the insurance companies, did you?).

For example, waiting periods prevent your insurance from paying for any big procedure (such crowns or root canals) for a year after you initially become insured, and minor work for three months after that (such as fillings). Policies have various waiting times. 

Insurance providers understand that you can’t wait until you realize you need a filling or a crown, get insurance, and then schedule an appointment to have it fixed. If you attempted to do that, you undoubtedly would experience a great deal of suffering and eventually lose your tooth (and have to pay full price for that extraction).

Even with employer-sponsored group plans, it’s crucial to carefully review the plan’s specifics to see whether it is affordable in your individual circumstance.


Factors to Consider for Group Plans

Surprisingly, you can be better off forgoing dental insurance even if your work provides it. Because you’re paying a group rate, a common misconception is that employer-sponsored benefits are always a good price. However, this isn’t always the case.

Make careful to look at the monthly payments, the annual maximum, and the co-insurance while assessing your employer’s dental plan. Your company can provide you a choice between a wonderful plan that costs only $20 per month to cover your entire family and has a high yearly maximum and a mediocre plan that costs $50 per month and has a maximum annual benefit of $1,000.

With the former, you stand to gain significantly; yet, with the latter, you run the risk of losing money. Calculate the odds of you coming out ahead for your specific situation.

If you are living paycheck to paycheck with little to no money saved, it may make sense to get dental insurance even if it doesn’t seem like a good deal in the long run. Without dental insurance, you will be responsible for paying a $1,600 charge when the work is completed (if not in full, then in prompt installments).

If you can’t do it and your only options are to pay too much for dental insurance, ignore your one and only set of teeth, or charge dental treatment to a credit card that you won’t be able to pay off, getting insurance is your best option. Spending money on insurance is definitely a better use of your money than racking up credit card debt or letting your oral health worsen.

The Conclusion

The greatest approach to save money on dental expenses may be to pay everything out of pocket if you are unable to enroll in a high-quality group dental plan, such as a preferred provider organization (PPO) or dental health maintenance organization (DHMO).

The best ways to save money over time include brushing and flossing frequently, switching to a cheap electric toothbrush, getting professional cleanings every six months, and visiting a dentist who performs high-quality work that lasts for years.


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