Is Dental Insurance Worth It If I Only See My Dentist For Cleanings?

Woman at the dentist

We all know the importance of having medical insurance with the rising costs of healthcare today. But what about dental insurance? Is it worth it if your oral health is good, you brush and floss regularly, and you only see your dentist twice a year for a cleaning and exam?

Dental Insurance Is Different Than Medical Insurance

Dental insurance is a completely different product than medical insurance – so different that many insurance companies refer to their plans as dental benefits instead of dental coverage. While health insurance kicks in after your medical bills reach a specified amount, dental insurance will only pay up to a specific limit, which is usually $1,000 to $1,500 annually. You pay out of pocket once your dental costs have reached that limit. These policy caps have remained the same for decades, while the cost of dental services continues to rise. It would be easy to exceed the annual cap with only one crown or a single implant.

Dental Plans Promote Preventative Care

Typical dental insurance plans offer 100-80-50 coverage. With this type of coverage, the plan will cover the cost of routine diagnostic and preventative dental care 100%. Typically two checkups and cleanings are allowed per year. Taking advantage of these preventative services can help save you money in the long run on more complicated and expensive procedures.

What About Fillings & Other Dental Services?

Standard dental insurance plans will usually pay 80% of the cost of fillings and root canals, and 50% of the cost of crowns and bridges – you pay the remainder. Some dental plans may have a deductible you will need to meet before your dental insurance begins to pay a portion of the costs. There may be a waiting period for major procedures, such as root canals or crowns, and the insurance may not cover teeth that were missing or work that was underway before your dental insurance policy went into effect.

Is Dental Insurance The Most Cost-Effective Option For You?

Most people do not save much on the cost of dental care by purchasing dental insurance. If your employer is covering some or all of the cost of your monthly premiums, and you do not anticipate needing much more than basic preventative care, dental insurance may be your best option. Another option is to bank what you would have spent on dental insurance in a health savings account and self-insure.

Dental Savings Plans Vs. Dental Insurance

A dental savings plan may be a good choice as an alternative to dental insurance. This type of plan offers discounts of 10% to 60% on dental services for members who pay an annual fee. Dental savings plans have no annual cap, no waiting period, and no restrictions on preexisting conditions, and they are an affordable alternative to dental insurance. However, you will need to go to a dentist who accepts your particular dental savings plan to qualify for discounts on dental services.