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With the rising cost of going to the dentist, many people are struggling with the decision of whether or not to purchase dental insurance. Whether you are considering buying dental insurance through your employer or independently, be sure to investigate several different plans and ask questions about the factors listed below. This information will help you choose the right dental insurance plan before signing on the dotted line.
Dental insurance almost always picks up 100 percent of the bill for routine checkups and cleanings. Coverage for common procedures like root canals and fillings are typically covered at 80 percent, although policies with higher premiums cover up to 90 percent. You are then responsible for the remaining 10 to 20 percent of the cost, called coinsurance. Most plans cover higher-priced and more involved procedures at 50 percent, so you should have some savings set aside for what your insurance does not cover. Still, with relatively low premiums, having dental insurance is far less expensive on average than paying cash for all dental procedures.
The Dental Care Cost Estimator sometimes groups together, into "treatment categories," services that are often delivered together to address a particular dental problem. The description of different treatment categories, and the inclusion of particular services in a treatment category, is not advice that any particular treatment category is the right treatment for you or that you should not obtain any particular treatment. All of those matters are things that you should decide, in consultation with your dental care professionals. This cost estimator is intended for use in the 50 states, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories. If you live outside the U.S., you may see information on this cost estimator about products or services that are not available or authorized in your country.

Does this sound good? Maybe. You’ll pay for everything…at a discount. How does this compare to traditional dental insurance? In our opinion, you may end up paying the same or less, generally speaking. While you have to pay for preventative care, it is at a discount. Compare with dental insurance, which the preventative care is free but you generally pay a higher monthly premium.


Learn more about:Dental InsuranceDental plans that fit your budget. Get and keep a healthy smile. Find PlansRelatedFinding the Best Dental Insurance in FloridaGetting Low-Cost Dental Insurance as a Self-Employed IndividualFinding Low-Cost Dental Insurance for Your Family as a Self-Employed IndividualFeaturedKey Health Insurance TermsObamacare 101: How Obamacare Health Insurance WorksHealth Insurance Products and Definitions var gf_global = {"gf_currency_config":{"name":"U.S. Dollar","symbol_left":"$","symbol_right":"","symbol_padding":"","thousand_separator":",","decimal_separator":".","decimals":2},"base_url":"https:\/\/www.ehealthinsurance.com\/resources\/wp-content\/plugins\/gravityforms","number_formats":[],"spinnerUrl":"https:\/\/www.ehealthinsurance.com\/resources\/wp-content\/plugins\/gravityforms\/images\/spinner.gif"}; Newsletter Sign up for our eHealth Newsletter email to receive updates that will help you! Email* This iframe contains the logic required to handle Ajax powered Gravity Forms. jQuery(document).ready(function($){gformInitSpinner( 1, 'https://s27829.pcdn.co/resources/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.gif' );jQuery('#gform_ajax_frame_1').on('load',function(){var contents = jQuery(this).contents().find('*').html();var is_postback = contents.indexOf('GF_AJAX_POSTBACK') >= 0;if(!is_postback){return;}var form_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_wrapper_1');var is_confirmation = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_confirmation_wrapper_1').length > 0;var is_redirect = contents.indexOf('gformRedirect(){') >= 0;var is_form = form_content.length > 0 && ! is_redirect && ! is_confirmation;if(is_form){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_1').html(form_content.html());if(form_content.hasClass('gform_validation_error')){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_1').addClass('gform_validation_error');} else {jQuery('#gform_wrapper_1').removeClass('gform_validation_error');}setTimeout( function() { /* delay the scroll by 50 milliseconds to fix a bug in chrome */ jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gform_wrapper_1').offset().top); }, 50 );if(window['gformInitDatepicker']) {gformInitDatepicker();}if(window['gformInitPriceFields']) {gformInitPriceFields();}var current_page = jQuery('#gform_source_page_number_1').val();gformInitSpinner( 1, 'https://s27829.pcdn.co/resources/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.gif' );jQuery(document).trigger('gform_page_loaded', [1, current_page]);window['gf_submitting_1'] = false;}else if(!is_redirect){var confirmation_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('.GF_AJAX_POSTBACK').html();if(!confirmation_content){confirmation_content = contents;}setTimeout(function(){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_1').replaceWith(confirmation_content);jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gf_1').offset().top);jQuery(document).trigger('gform_confirmation_loaded', [1]);window['gf_submitting_1'] = false;}, 50);}else{jQuery('#gform_1').append(contents);if(window['gformRedirect']) {gformRedirect();}}jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [1, current_page]);} );} );if(typeof gf_global == 'undefined') var gf_global = {"gf_currency_config":{"name":"U.S. Dollar","symbol_left":"$","symbol_right":"","symbol_padding":"","thousand_separator":",","decimal_separator":".","decimals":2},"base_url":"https:\/\/www.ehealthinsurance.com\/resources\/wp-content\/plugins\/gravityforms","number_formats":[],"spinnerUrl":"https:\/\/www.ehealthinsurance.com\/resources\/wp-content\/plugins\/gravityforms\/images\/spinner.gif"};jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_render', function(event, formId, currentPage){if(formId == 1) {if(typeof Placeholders != 'undefined'){
Almost all dental insurance companies use what is called a Usual, Customary, and Reasonable (UCR) fee guide. This means that they set their own price that they will allow for every dental procedure that they cover. This is not based on what a dentist actually charges, but what the dental insurance company wishes to cover. For example, your dentist may charge $78 for a dental cleaning, but your insurance company will only allow $58 because that is the UCR fee that they have set.
I could have paid the average of $360 a year for a dental policy in my twenties. Or I could have paid out of pocket for two dental exams, including cleanings and X-rays, which, in 2011, cost an average of $370 combined. In that case dental insurance wouldn’t have saved me much money. And if I went to a dental school or clinic for treatment, I could have saved even more on out-of-pocket costs.
Another option for dental care is Medicaid, which covers some kinds of dental procedures if you meet the requirements. Medicare does not provide dental coverage. The ADA Foundation has provided dental care to 5.5 million children since 2003. They will direct you to a dentist that is near you. Another option is the Children Health Insurance Program (CHIP). It provides health coverage including dental coverage to over 7 million children under 19 years of age.

Surgery to correct an abscessed tooth is usually considered a health issue and medical insurance covers the cost. Procedures to correct trauma to the mouth are considered medical and not dental, even if lost teeth are involved. Our best advice is to talk to both your medical and dental insurance carriers to determine where coverage falls, so you are prepared for out of pocket costs.
The cost of not taking care of your oral health could be more. Those without individual dental coverage are less likely to get routine dental care, meaning they seek out a dentist only when they have a problem. By then, more extensive and more expensive measures may be necessary, and major problems linked to poor oral health (like heart disease and diabetes) are more likely to appear.2 Doing nothing now means you might pay more later.
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