Dental Health
Insurance Plans Explained

Dental health insurance plans are a mixed bunch.

By that I mean there are a lot of different types of dental payment plans, some of which offer full coverage dental insurance. It can be a complicated and confusing issue!


But first of all, you may be wondering if you need insurance at all.

Why bother with any of the dental health insurance plans? What are the alternatives? That's a good question. Let's take a look at some of the most common reasons for getting some sort of dental insurance.

Dental Health Insurance Plans

The first reason is so that you can get regular check-ups and dental hygienist treatment. There is a lot of research that shows that people who get regular check-ups and see a dental hygienist every six months usually have better teeth and gums.

Most types of dental health insurance plans will cover check-ups every 6 months. They know that people with healthy teeth and gums are less likely to make expensive claims for major treatment! Some will even pay for a check-up immediately after you join the plan.

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The second reason for having dental insurance is the risk you run of needing more complicated dental treatment, such as crowns, bridges, root canal work or getting wisdom teeth removed.

These procedures can be quite expensive, especially if you need several things doing at once!

Depending on the level of cover specified in your dental payment plan, they will generally pay at least a percentage of the charges related to your dental care.

The third reason is your kids' teeth. Children can sometimes need quite a bit of dental treatment, including orthodontic braces. Some sort of dental insurance plan is one way to protect yourself against unexpected costs of dental treatment that your kids may need.

dental health insurance plans

You will normally benefit in the long term from your dental health insurance plan,  providing you take advantage of all the treatment you are entitled to!

You have to remember that insurance companies are in business to make a profit, like any company. That means that they have to take in more money through your insurance premiums than they hand out for dental treatment.

Most people regard dental insurance as being expensive, but, if you DO have dental insurance, and you use all the benefits that you are entitled to, you are actually getting a good deal!

But most people don't visit a dentist regularly. They only go when they have problems. They are not getting all the benefits that they are entitled to.

So, what types of dental health insurance plans are there?

In the U.S.A., there are basically 5 types of dental health insurance plan;

  • Dental Health Maintenance Organization. This type of plan is usually the cheapest . All your dental treatment is provided by a dentist on their list. These dentists have agreed to provide certain items of dental treatment to patients at no charge, such as check-ups and a scale and polish.

Other items of treatment such as fillings, root canal, dentures etc. usually require the patient to pay part of the total cost. Dentists are paid directly by the insurance company, regardless of how much or how often covered services are used.

  • Indemnity type insurance usually allows you to go to the whichever dentist you prefer. This is sometimes referred to as full coverage dental insurance. However they are not really "full coverage". These plans will only pay either a part of the bill or else a set dollar amount. 

Payments from the insurance company can be made to the patient, or transferred straight to the dentist. If the amount paid by the insurance company is less than the dentist's full charge, then you have to pay the difference.

  • Preferred Provider Organizations are usually cheaper than the indemnity type of insurance cover. You can choose which dentist you want to go to from a list of dentists who have agreed to work at reduced fees for members of the PPO.

You still pay dental fees, but being a member of the PPO means you pay lower dental fees.You can also get treatment from dentists outside of the PPO list, but you will have to pay the dentist's normal rates!

A scheduled plan or "scheduled reimbursement plan" pays you back a specific amount of money, based on a fee schedule, with any extra balance above the scheduled amount being your responsibility. Scheduled plans usually have a maximum amount that they will pay in any 12-month period. You will also have to pay a deductible amount up front before getting anything back from the insurance. You should also count on some types of dental treatment being excluded for 3 or 6 months after signing up.

As a member of a scheduled plan, you will get a list (or "schedule") that shows which types of dental treatment you are covered for, and for how much, for each type of dental treatment. As an example, if the insurance will pay $45 for a scale and polish, and your dentist charges you $60, then you would have to pay the difference of $15.

  • Dental insurance for seniors is aimed at the specific needs of senior citizens. There is no point in having cover for orthodontic braces or wisdom tooth surgery in a dental plan for seniors! These plans aim to offer better value by limiting covered procedures to those most likely to be needed by seniors.

Discount dental insurance is an alternative way to reduce the cost of dental care. Discount plans let you have as much treatment as you want, providing you go to a dentist who is a member of the discount scheme. He will carry out your dental treatment for a lower rate than normal. The cost of your membership card is small compared to the potential savings for you and your family!

Let's look more closely at discounted dental plans.

If your family doesn't have a family dental health insurance plan, you're not alone. About 132 million people in America are in the same position.

The relatively high cost of conventional dental health insurance plans, especially in the current uncertain economic climate, puts a lot of people off buying into a dental plan. Paying the monthly premium isn't the only issue.

Normal dental health insurance plans may have a long waiting period before you can get treatment, you may have to pay significant amounts of money to bridge the gap between the dentist's own fees and what the insurance plan pays; there might be a limit on the maximum amount that you can claim per year, limitations on what types of treatment you can get, and some types of dental treatment can be totally excluded.

I think that Discount Dental Plans are a realistic alternative to conventional dental insurance.

The plans offered at are discount programs that help to make dental care more affordable and accessible. You can get any type of dental treatment, but at a discounted rate! So there are no forms to fill out, you don't need to work out what your co-payments might be, and you don't have to worry about hitting an annual limit.


Discount dental plans start from around $90 per year for a single person, and are easy and convenient alternatives to conventional dental health insurance plans. You just take your card with you to the dentist, and get a discounted rate on all your dental care! Discount dental plans for families start from something like $150 per year.

In the United Kingdom, the biggest dental plan is Denplan. Denplan has about 6,500 registered dentists and provides care for nearly two million patients.

Denplan works in a similar way to American DHMO dental health insurance plans. The patient pays a set amount of money each month, and in return receives basic dental care free of charge, with reduced fees for more complicated or expensive items of treatment. For more information, Google "Denplan".

To find out more about discount dental plans in America, Google "Affordable Plans"

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