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What to Look for When Buying a Dental Plan

What to Look for When Buying a Dental Plan


Purchasing a dental insurance plan for yourself or your family can seem confusing at first, but it really doesn’t have to be. With the help of the experts at, you can know exactly what you need to look for before buying into an oral health policy for the first time.

Here are a few examples:

Your Deductible Before Insurance Kicks In

The first thing you’ll want to consider when you sign up for dental insurance is the deductible. The higher your deductible is, the less you pay for each month to be enrolled. Lower deductibles require higher monthly payments. If you have a major setback (such as an emergency root canal) you need to be prepared to pay for whatever your deductible is before the policy starts covering anything. 

What’s Covered on Basic or Major Dental Treatments

For people who rarely need more than the six-month checkups and cleanings, you may not need a higher percentage of coverage for routine treatments. But if you’re anticipating a crown or root canal, pay attention to your tiers of coverage. For example, most preventive visits like your checkups will be covered at 100%. The amounts that you’ve been paying for each month cover these visits.

However, when you need to start restoring teeth with fillings (basic treatments) or crowns (major dental work) you’ll see your coverage slip to 50-80%. If you’ve always had “bad teeth” or haven’t been to the dentist in years, you’ll want to have the extra cash on hand to pay for the work that isn’t covered under your policy.

In-Network vs. Out-of-Network Dental Offices 

Most insurance policies require you to work with a dentist who is “in network.” That is, one who has a signed contract with the insurance company to offer reduced or set-fee procedures. If you go to a dentist who is out of network, the insurance company may not pay as much, even if the prices seem lower to begin with. This is one way that big insurance companies can seem to scare people into only seeing specific providers for their dental care. 

Waiting Periods Before You Can Start Treatment 

Once you enroll in a dental insurance program, you’ll likely want to see the dentist right away. For cleanings and exams, that’s great. But if your dentist finds a couple of large cavities, you could be in for a surprise. Some insurance companies have a set waiting period before you can start major dental work. Even if you need a crown and root canal as soon as possible, your coverage may not pay for any of it until six months or even an entire year has passed. Waiting period clauses may not be something you’re familiar with, but be sure to ask about them before enrolling in what appears to be an affordable dental insurance program. 

Maximum Allowable for the Year 

Finally, be sure to find out what your maximum allowable benefits are with the company you’re considering buying into. A “maximum allowable” is the total dollar amount per year that your dental insurance will pay out. For most companies, it’s about $1,500. Surprisingly, this dollar amount hasn’t increased with inflation for nearly three decades! Take it into account when you’re doing the math on your annual out-of-pocket expenses for enrolling in insurance, paying co-pays, and meeting deductibles. You may find out that you can actually save more with an alternative program.

Finding the Most Affordable Option Out There

Insurance is expensive. There’s no way around it. Cheaper plans usually mean cheaper coverage, which costs you more out of pocket once things are said and done. Unless you’re paying for dental insurance out of your own pocket, your employer (or more accurately, the human resources department at your company) is the only one who has any say-so about the type of coverage that you’re offered.

One alternative that many people are turning to is that of enrolling in discount dental plans. With discount plans, enrollees save a percentage on their dental bill, no matter how big or how small it is. For people who don’t need a lot of dental work, or those who often need more than their insurance policy will cover, a discount plan can save them hundreds to thousands of dollars a year.

Learn more about finding an affordable discount dental plan with the savings experts at

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