Choosing Dental Insurance

Dental insurance helps offset the costs of routine checkups and more expensive services like fillings and crowns. However, it is important to consider dollar limitations and coverage exclusions when choosing a plan.


Plans typically have a deductible and a maximum annual benefit. They also have limitations on preventive care and may require waiting periods for basic and major procedures.


When selecting a dental insurance plan for yourself or your family, you must consider several factors. These include deductibles, coinsurance, and annual coverage maximums. The best plans are those that provide predictability in costs and offer a lower cost structure than traditional insurance. A Dental Health Maintenance Organization (DHMO) is a good option because it has low premiums and predictable costs, which are generally stated as specific dollar amounts. In contrast, a Dental Preferred Provider Organization (DPPO) has higher premiums but may provide more flexibility in care choices.

To choose the right plan, you must understand terms like deductibles, coinsurance, and annual and lifetime maximums. These can help you determine whether or not dental insurance is worth the investment. Dental insurance plans also typically have a set payment model, which divides the amount they will cover into categories: preventative, basic, and major services. In addition, many plans use a maximum annual payment limit, which will cap the amount they will pay for a particular procedure.


The deductible is an out-of-pocket expense that the policyholder pays before the insurance provider starts covering expenses. It is often a fixed amount, but may vary from one plan to the next. Deductibles are different from premiums, and both can affect the overall cost of a dental insurance plan.

A deductible is typically required for any procedure that exceeds the annual maximum of a dental insurance plan. This limit can be either a calendar or policy year. Some plans also roll some of their unused annual maximums over to the following year.

Most plans offer coverage for preventive care, which includes routine cleanings and oral screenings. These services are designed to prevent problems such as tooth loss and gum disease. In addition, some dental plans cover basic care, which includes fillings, extractions, and root canals. Both types of care can help you avoid costly procedures in the future.


A co-pay is a fixed dollar amount that you pay for a dental procedure after your deductible has been met. The amount may or may not count toward your yearly maximum. A yearly maximum is the amount that your insurance company will pay for procedures each year. Once you reach the annual maximum, you will be responsible for paying for any remaining procedures.

Most plans follow a 100/80/50 payment schedule, covering preventive services 100%, basic services 80%, and major services 50%. However, every plan has a different definition of what’s covered. Frequency and limitations are important to consider as well.

Dental plans can be Preferred provider organization (PPO) or health maintenance organizations (HMO). PPOs have a list of dentists that they will pay for at a set rate. They also have a deductible, annual maximum, and waiting periods for non-preventive care. On the other hand, dental indemnity plans allow you to see any dentist, with no network restrictions.


The term “in-network” refers to dentists that have contracts with an insurance company to provide dental services at pre-established rates. This reduces the cost of a patient’s visit to the dentist and helps increase access to care for patients. However, this can also limit options for dental practices.

Most dental plans cover preventive procedures like cleanings and X-rays without a waiting period, and basic procedures such as extractions, fillings, and root canals. These are typically covered at a percentage of the plan’s “customary and reasonable” fee limits.

In contrast, out-of-network dental plans reimburse patients based on the plan’s negotiated fees, which may be lower than the actual cost of a procedure. This type of reimbursement can be confusing for patients and requires a well-defined patient billing process. Moreover, it can lead to higher expenses for out-of-network practices.

Limits on preventive care

When choosing dental insurance, you need to consider more than the premium. You must also factor in out-of-pocket costs. These include the deductible and annual maximums. Most dental plans have limits on the number of procedures or the dollar amount that the insurance company will pay in a year. These limits are based on what dentists in the area charge, but can vary widely.

Some dental insurance plans offer discounts on preventive care such as bi-annual cleanings and exams, which are covered without a waiting period. These are usually referred to as dental PPOs. Other plans require enrollees to visit a network of dentists in order to receive coverage. This type of plan is known as a Dental Health Maintenance Organization (DHMO) or Managed Care. These types of plans typically have smaller networks and do not reimburse for out-of-network care, but they do have lower premiums than PPOs.


There are many benefits to being in-network with dental insurance. These include the ability to increase your patient base and offer affordable, accessible care. In addition, you can reduce the time you spend on insurance claims, which can help save your dental team money. However, being in-network comes with its own set of drawbacks. In-network dentists are required to enter into a contractual agreement with the insurance company, and they must adhere to their pre-established fees. This can make it more difficult to collect from patients, and requires a streamlined patient billing process.

Understanding the different types of dental insurance plans available can help you choose a plan that suits your needs and budget. For example, if you or your employees have a high tolerance for cost-sharing and are interested in a wide network of dentists, a dental Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) may suit your needs best. In contrast, a Dental Health Maintenance Organization (DHMO) usually offers lower premiums and lower deductibles.