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Dental Insurance

Do you really need dental insurance?

Many of us ask this question about all insurance in general. While I am a firm advocate of insuring against loss you might not need to buy dental insurance if you're young and healthy, have no dental problems and only go to the dentist twice a year for cleaning. The cost of insurance and copayments might very well be more than the cost of the cleanings.

However, if you are not a healthy person or have had a rough dental history, you might very well want to purchase dental insurance or join a dental discount plan. Dental procedures can be very expensive. Even with fluoride in our water millions of Americans each year have cavities filled, root canals preformed and teeth extracted.

There are many factors that effect the health of our teeth. Some are as simple as dental hygiene (brushing teeth properly). Others factors like stress, personal habits and nutrition can also play a role in the health of our teeth. Even under the best of conditions most people will be faced with dental expenses, beyond simple cleaning, sooner or later. Listed below are some different types of dental programs.

Dental Insurance - Discount Programs

Dental Indemnity Insurance

These are the traditional fee-for-service insurance plans. You pay a monthly premium to an insurance company and in return it covers a portion of your dental expenses. Some typical features of these plans:

  • High deductibles before coverage begins (well-designed plans don't apply the deductible to preventive services)

  • Probationary periods on certain procedures that last up to a year
  • Annual dollar limit on benefits
  • Freedom to choose your own dentist
  • Your average monthly cost: $40+ per person
  • Companies selling these plans are regulated by state insurance departments.


In general, an indemnity plan will pay 100 percent of the costs for preventive services, 80 percent for common restorative services, and 50 percent for major treatments, such as crowns and orthodontics. For more information on dental plans available in your area visit our specialist site below.

Dental Preferred Provider Organizations

Another true insurance plan, a PPO falls somewhere between an indemnity plan and a dental HMO. A group of dentists agrees to provide services at a deeply discounted rate, giving you substantial savings - as long as you stay in their network. Unlike the more restrictive DHMO, though, you can go out of network and still receive some benefits. Some typical features of these plans:

  • Monthly premiums

  • Annual dollar cap
  • You must stay within the approved network of dentists or pay higher deductibles and co-payments
  • Your average monthly cost: $40
  • Companies selling these plans are regulated by state insurance departments.


HMO Dental Insurance

These insurance plans, also known as "capitation plans," operate like their medical HMO cousins. Some typical features of these plans:

  • Monthly premiums (some require you to prepay a year's worth)

  • Co-payments for office visits
  • Free preventive or routine care
  • You must select from an approved network of dentists
  • May have an initial enrollment fee
  • Annual dollar cap
  • Your average monthly cost: $20 to $40
  • Companies selling these plans are regulated by state insurance departments.


Dental Discount Plans

Discount dental plans are a lot like coupon books where you get a percentage off when you shop at participating merchants. With a dental plan, you don't actually get coupons, but you must go to a dentist who has agreed to participate in the plan and offer services at a discounted rate - $450 for a crown instead of the standard rate of $750, for instance. For individuals and families discount plans seem to represent the best value.

Some typical features of these plans:

  • Monthly fee to the dental-discount company

  • You must stay within the plan network
  • An initial enrollment fee
  • Your average monthly cost: $10 to $20


It's important to keep in mind that a discount dental plan is not the same thing as an insurance policy. You are purchasing access to dentist who have agreed to reduced rates for their services and therefore you must use dentist within the network