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What is dental insurance? Have you ever asked yourself this question, perhaps when you were trying to decide whether to accept coverage at work? If so, you need to take the time to find out the answer. Otherwise, you could end up forgoing coverage that you really need.

Dental insurance is basically a form of health insurance that is intended to pay for the cost of dental care. Most general health insurance plans do not cover any dental work, such as cleanings, X-rays, examinations, or fillings. If you want to see the dentist, you can either pay out of your own pocket or you can get insured.

This form of insurance works much like any other type of policy. You pay a monthly premium each month, and in exchange, the insurance company will pay for a percentage of the cost of care. In most cases, being insured will save you money over the long run.

What are the benefits of dental insurance?

One reason why insurance is beneficial is that dentists charge lower prices for insured patients than for uninsured ones. For each procedure that they perform, there is a certain basic price. If you do not have any insurance, this is what you will have to pay out of your own pocket without any discounts.

However, if you have insurance, the dentist will reduce this basic price before submitting a claim to the insurance company. For example, if the base price for a particular procedure is $200, this might be reduced to $160 before the claim is submitted. The precise discount, of course, depends upon a number of factors.

Different insurance companies have different providers

For example, different insurance companies have different networks of providers. These are dental clinics that have an agreement with the insurance company. If you see an in-network dentist, you will be able to receive care at very affordable prices. If you go to a dentist who does not belong to the insurer’s network, your policy will provide much less coverage, or potentially none at all.

Amount of insurance coverage depends on dental procedure

The type of procedure that is being performed also determines how much coverage you will receive. Basic preventative care, such as examinations and cleanings, are covered at a much higher rate than more invasive procedures, such as fillings or sealants. Most policies cover at least 90 percent of the cost of preventative treatment, while fillings and the like may only be covered at 50 percent.

Further limitations apply to some dental procedures

In addition, there are also even more stringent limitations on more specialised care, such as root canals, implants, or orthodontic treatment. In addition to typically only covering 50 percent of the cost of these treatments, many insurance plans have annual, or even lifetime, maximums on the amount they will pay.

For example, an insurance policy might have a $1500 lifetime maximum on orthodontic treatment, and only cover 50 percent of the total cost. This means that you will have to pay for much of the cost out of your own pocket, and if further care is needed in the future, your insurance policy will not provide any more benefits.

Understanding deductables

When you are asking yourself, “What is dental insurance?” there are a few other important things to understand. As with other types of insurance, these policies generally come with a deductible. This is the amount that you have to pay on your own before your coverage will start to take effect.

If you have a $500 annual deductible, for instance, you have to pay for the first $500 worth of care that you receive each year. Any costs above that amount will be covered by your insurance policy at the agreed-upon rates.

The lower your deductible, the higher your monthly premiums will be, and vice versa. Choosing a policy with a high deductible can save you money on a monthly basis, but you are running the risk of having to pay a lot up front if you need expensive care. Take your needs and the needs of your family into consideration when you are making this decision.


So, what is dental insurance? Simply put, it is a means of making needed care more affordable. With the right policy, you can make sure that you and your family can have strong, healthy teeth.