Do I Need a Dental Plan? | MouthHealthy - Oral Health Information from the ADA

Do I Really Need a Dental Plan?

Green piggy bank sitting on top of a calculator.

Choosing a dental plan can be tricky. The plan you choose will depend on your budget and the types and amount of dental care you need it to cover.

For some people, mainly those who need very little dental treatment, buying dental benefits may cost more in the long run than paying a dentist’s office directly. 

When considering a plan—especially if it’s not provided through your employer—add up the costs of the plan, including the premium, deductible and co-payment, along with the percentage of the treatment costs you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket.

Once you’ve added up those numbers, think back to your previous dental visits. Have you had to undergo expensive procedures frequently, or do you only need a regular cleaning to keep your teeth in tip-top shape?

If you typically only need regular cleanings and no other procedures, it may cost less for you to pay for those cleanings on your own without paying the premiums for a dental benefits plan. Talk to your dentist about your dental history and possible care needs before making your decision. Your health is always changing, so you should revisit these conversations with your dentist before your policy is renewed each year, or when it’s time for you to choose your benefits at work when you’re hired or during open enrollment.

Notice that we have used the term “dental benefit plan” and not “dental insurance.” Contrary to what many people think, dental benefit plans aren’t actually insurance plans. Typical dental benefit plans are not designed to cover all dental procedures, and dental benefits coverage is not based on what you need or what the dentist recommends. Here’s how they’re different.