The thought of visiting a dentist has constantly hounded you. Then you eventually gave in. During the checkup, your dentist looks you in the eye and says, “You’ve got a tooth in trouble and if you can get a root canal and crown, you’ll be fine.”

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Most of us have been in such situations. I can only imagine the cold chills that went through your spine at that moment. If you decide to act quickly, you’ll save yourself a lot of money down the road—by avoiding an implant. The procedure is in the region of $2500. That is a lot of money to produce on short notice. Not to worry, your dental insurance will cover you.

But you’re wrong!

Without a super-duper-platinum dental insurance plan, you’d be paying for that procedure out-of-your pocket. And that is the unfiltered truth.

Understanding how dental insurance works will save you lot headaches in the long run and keep you from getting caught up when it matters most.

How it works

If you want to maintain a great smile, then dental insurance comes through to help you budget for the cost. It is straightforward and not too difficult to understand when compared with medical insurance.

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Here is what you need to know:

  • Dental insurance provides coverage for issues related to teeth and gums, including preventative care like annual cleanings
  • Cosmetic procedures, such as whitening or crowns, are not covered.
  • Deductible, co-pays, and coinsurance will apply, with many policies having annual maximum coverage—they’re relatively low and in the range of $750 to $2000 in most cases.
  • Most dental plans will cover 20-80% of your bill. If you have a deductible of $300, for example, and your coverage is 75%, by paying $300 out-of-pocket, your dental insurance will covers 75% of the balance.
  • There is a waiting period before your cover is initiated—it ranges from 6-months to a year.

Dental insurance covers a specific limit ($1,000-$1,500 annually). When that limit is reached, you’ll shoulder the cost of your dental care for the rest of the year.

The major advantage of dental insurance is that it motivates you to get preventive treatment. And for every dollar spent on preventive care, an estimated $50 is saved on more costly ones.

Is Dental Insurance Worth It?

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Carefully read your plan before signing on the dotted line to determine how much is covered. Also, keep the deductible in mind as you will be liable for paying out-of-pocket before your coverage begins.

You should bear in mind that most dental services are provided on a tiered scale when deciding if dental coverage is worth it. Preventive coverage is typically covered at 100 percent—routine cleanings, x-rays, and the like are included. Next are the basic procedures. Those involve things like fillings, extractions, and root canals. When the deductible is met, most dental insurance providers will cover a portion of these services.

Finally, there is major work, such as bridges, crowns, and dentures. In most cases, dental insurance will cover a smaller percentage of these; the larger percentage is up to your responsibility.

If you can access dental coverage through your employer for a couple of dollars a month, then it’s probably worth it. Families with older people and children should consider dental coverage because they’re more prone to requiring dental work.

Let’s say you have no access to employer-sponsored insurance. You might be fine skipping dental insurance if you go to the dentist regularly for cleanings and barely need additional treatment.

What is the best Dental Insurance on the table?

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There are three types of individual dental insurance:

  • Dental Health Maintenance Organization (DHMO)—No annual cap, low premium payments, must use in-network dentists.
  • Dental Preferred Provider Organization (DPPO)—Annual cap, likely to pay higher dental care costs than a DHMO, higher fees for out-of-network dentists.
  • Dental indemnity insurance— Annual maximum cap, highest premiums, so many dentists to choose from, little or no deductible.

Which one to choose? In most instances, you’ll go with the plan your employer or professional organization provides. Speak to your dentist if you have a preference, buy your insurance, and see what plans the office recommends. Shop for a plan that provides the coverage you need at a price you can afford, whether you have a dentist or not.

There are several exceptions to the waiting period for major procedures. A few insurers may waive the waiting policy before you purchase their policy with proof of continuous coverage. The hope is that your dentist hasn’t given you bad news, and you run straight out to buy dental insurance.

If you know you’ll require major work in the future, you may want to look for a high cap policy. You’re going to pay higher premiums, but with one visit, you still won’t max out your coverage.

Carefully consider your options and go for the dental plan that best fits.

How to use your Dental plan

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Keeping your smile healthy requires more than good oral hygiene. Regular dental treatment is critical for your oral health. Your dental plan makes getting the care you need easy and affordable.

Before you visit the dentist:

  • View your dental benefit before visiting your dentist—it helps eliminate surprises at the office.
  • Find an in-network dentist, so you get a discounted rate for your plan
  • Call the insurance yourself for emergency procedures and see if you still require waiting for approval

At the dentist office:

  • Prove information on other dental coverage youhave in place
  • Speak to your dentist about your overall health
  • When your dentist recommends treatment, request a predetermination

After dentist visit:

  • Verify your treatment
  • Review your maximums and deductibles
  • Compare other dental coverage
  • See how your benefits were incorporated

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Waiting is not an option

If you think you can hold out and get dental insurance when you need it, then you need to think again. It won’t work—you have a waiting or probationary period to contend with. The waiting period means your insurance will not cover any major work—like crowns or root canal—a year after you become insured. And for three months after you become insured, no minor work (such as filling) will be accommodated too.

Insurance companies know that when you need a filling or a crown, you need it right now. You can’t hold out, buy insurance, wait for 12 months, and have it taken care of. If you choose that route, you’d experience discomfort and lose your tooth—and yet pay for the cost of extraction.

Bottom line

A beautiful smile is an investment that will last a lifetime—and everybody should be able to afford it. Go for a dental plan that suits your budget and dental needs while paying less for in-network services.

Visit this link if you want to get more juicy information about dental insurance.

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