Dental insurance can help you manage some of the out-of-pocket costs of dental work. But if you take good care of your teeth and gums, is dental insurance worth the cost if you only need routine cleanings and checkups?
Here’s some information to help you decide.
What does dental insurance cover?
Typical dental insurance plans cover 3 areas of care: preventive, basic and major. Some common benefits and services covered by each type of plan include:
- Preventive services—routine oral exams, cleanings and topical fluoride treatments
- Basic services—fillings, crowns and emergency care (tooth extractions or root removals)
- Major restorative services—oral surgery, root canals and complete or partial dentures
Note: Some plans may have a waiting period (ex. 6–12 months) before certain benefits are available.
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What is not covered by dental insurance?
Many dental plans deny coverage for certain treatments, including:
If a dental insurance plan does include coverage for 1 of these services, it may come with certain terms and conditions. For example, some plans may cover braces for children under 18 if they’re deemed medically necessary. However, most plans will not cover orthodontics for adults for any reason. If you need coverage for braces, you could buy supplemental orthodontic insurance in addition to your regular dental plan.
How much does dental insurance cost?
The cost of dental insurance can vary based on where you live and what kind of plan you buy. Most dental insurance plans charge a monthly premium, but there are other costs to consider as well. Here’s a list of common dental insurance costs:
- Premium—a monthly cost that you and/or your employer pays for insurance
- Copay—the amount you pay every time you visit a dentist
- Deductible—the amount you pay before your insurance benefits start
- Coinsurance—the amount you pay after your plan paid its share and you’ve met your deductible
- Annual maximum—the yearly limit of how much your plan will pay to cover costs
For more information, check out how much individual dental insurance can cost.
What do dental services cost without insurance?
If you don’t have dental insurance, you pay 100% of the cost of all services and procedures. To get an idea of what you’ll pay, here are the average costs of common dental procedures:
- Basic dental cleaning—$75–$2001
- Panoramic X-rays—$100–$2002
- Metal crown—$500–$2,000 per tooth3
- Simple tooth extraction—$75–$2504
To view a larger list, see these costs of common dental procedures.
Benefits of having dental insurance
Different plans offer different benefits, but some advantages can apply to all dental insurance:
- It can make dental care more affordable
- You’re more likely to avoid future dental problems
- You may be more inspired to go to the dentist
- Keeping your mouth healthy can improve your overall health
Also, your individual needs can influence how beneficial dental insurance can be. If you have a family history of dental issues, you may need more dental work throughout your life. In this case, dental insurance could help protect you from paying thousands of dollars out of pocket over the years.
How to choose a dental insurance plan
If you’ve decided that dental insurance is for you, it’s important to consider your budget and dental care needs. Dental plans can vary based on costs, the services they cover and their dentist networks.
To get started, explore these tips for choosing the best dental insurance plan for you.