Dental insurance is a fairly new product in the United States, relatively speaking, but it has increasingly gained popularity in the last decade as dental procedures and technology advances have made a beautiful mouth much easier to achieve.
There are many different types of dental plans on the market, however, knowing the difference between plans can help consumers intelligently pick a plan that is the best fit for their oral health needs.
First, there IS a difference between dental insurance and a discount dental plan. Dental insurance typically has a fixed deductible amount that policyholders must pay before their dental insurance company begins paying for work – OR – their policy pays a portion of some services, like cleanings and preventive care services. Discount dental plans do not have deductibles or copays, but just offer a discount every time you see a dentist in the covered network. To decide what type of plan to buy, a consumer should consider the following factors:
- Is teeth cleaning important for best oral hygiene?
- Do other oral health factors make dentist visits necessary every year?
- Is the health insurance plan accepted by the dental office?
- Is the discount dental network wide enough to cover dentists in the local area?
Once these questions are answered, an individual can determine if dental insurance is right for them. If two cleanings, one X-ray and one cavity are a common pattern each year, dental insurance could save an individual or a family money in the long run.
When considering purchasing a dental insurance plan, think about the challenges of oral health during the various age stages:
On the younger side of this age spectrum, teeth typically need basic cleanings each year and regular X-rays to ensure that the best oral maintenance is maintained. However, this age category usually includes children at some stage along the way. Paying for pediatric oral health out of pocket can be expensive when cavities, sealants and even orthodontics are factored in. Look for dental plans with flat-rate office copays.
During this stage in life, restorative services are usually needs as teeth age. Root canals, crowns and replacement fillings are common oral needs. Consider a dental insurance plan with a lower deductible so big-expense dental care doesn’t cripple financial wellbeing.
In the senior years of life, gum disease and other invasive procedures are common and can be the most expensive treatments for oral healthcare. Unlike term life insurance or health insurance, dental insurance is available for individuals over the age of 65. Since Medicare does not cover the cost of dental procedures, it’s good to have an extra level of protection to pay for dental office visits and other oral healthcare needs.
Regardless of the type of plan you chose, dental insurance is an affordable way to protect finances and preserve good oral health.