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dental insurance

A family dental plan has to deliver savings on a wide variety of treatments – the kids need sealants to prevent cavities, the adults may need a root canal or crown, everyone needs checkups and cleanings, and sometimes a dental emergency like a chipped tooth occurs. Here’s what you need to know to find an affordable plan that reliably delivers savings on a wide range of quality dental care.

What’s the best way to save on dental care for my family?

Get regular checkups for everyone in your family. When you prevent dental disease, or treat it early, the savings are significant over the long run. And regular preventive dental care can also help you manage your overall healthcare costs. Dental problems have been associated with respiratory infections, stomach problems, over-stressed immune systems, cancers and heart disease. And kids with dental problems tend to underperform in school and social activities, impacting their ability to have healthy, happy lives.

What is preventive dental care?

Dental checkups and cleanings, because they prevent dental decay or allow a dentist to fix little issues preventing them from becoming big, expensive problems. Cleanings dramatically reduce the chances of dental diseases, and dental hygienists may also apply fluorides and sealants to kids’ teeth to further protect against tooth decay.

What is basic dental care?

Filling cavities, simple tooth extractions, some types of deep cleanings to treat periodontal disease, and root canals fall under the “basic” category.

That said, “basic” dental care is really just a word that dental insurance and dental savings plan providers use to define discounts for specific services. Plans may include more – or fewer - treatments under the basic category. Check plan details before purchasing to know what treatments are considered basic care, and which are classified as “restorative” procedures. Dental insurance pays 80% of basic treatments, and only 50% of restorative treatments, so a plan that includes more treatments under the basic category can end up saving you money, depending on your family’s dental health.

What about braces?

Some insurance, and many dental savings plans, will help you reduce the cost of orthodontic treatment. Check to see if braces/orthodontia is covered by any plan you’re considering, if there is a limit on the coverage, and – if the grownups in the family need braces – whether adults as well as children are covered.  In general, you’ll save more on orthodontics and other restorative treatments with a dental savings plan as opposed to dental insurance. This is because dental insurance has an annual spending limit, and may have an additional “lifetime” limit on coverage for orthodontics. In contrast, dental savings plans do not have spending restrictions.

How does dental insurance save me money?

Dental insurance provides excellent savings on preventive care. Typically, you get two checkups and cleanings at no cost annually for every family member covered by your plan. One set of bitewing X-rays annually may also be included. Then, after you meet your deductible, basic care is covered at 80% (your insurance pays 80% of the cost of the treatment, you pay 20%) and restorative care is covered at 50%.

Once you have hit your annual maximum spending limit ($1000-$1,500 per person for most family plans) you pay for your family’s dental expenses out of pocket – along with paying your monthly insurance premium - until your plan renews. You can expect to pay about $450-$500 annually for family dental insurance.

How do dental savings plans save me money?

Members of dental savings plans get discounts on dental care, and pay the discounted rate directly to a participating dentist. These discounts range from 10%-60%, depending on the plan chosen and the specific dental procedure.

Dental savings plans are a good choice for families who need -or expect to need- preventive, basic and restorative care. There are no restrictions on annual spending, so you can use your plan to save at the dentist as often as you need to. And many dental savings plans offer discounts on orthodontics and dental implants. You can expect to pay about $190 annually for a family dental savings plan.

What saves me the most money, dental insurance or a dental savings plan?

That depends on your family’s dental care needs. Ask your dentist what types of plans they accept and which one would be the best for your family. No dentist? You can use this dentist search tool to easily find family or pediatric dentists near you and which dental plans that they accept. You may wish to look for a plan that allows everyone in the family to see their own dentist, as well as specialists as needed.

How can I find affordable dental insurance or a dental savings plan?

You can talk to an insurance agent, who can help you find a plan that meets your family’s dental needs and works with your budget. And you can compare plan coverage and costs online, at sites like dentalplans.com. And the same strategies you use for saving on products and services work for dental plans too. Signing up for emails/newsletters from sites that sell plans is a great way to find out about sales and special offers. You can also look for special offers on the sites (keep an eye out for pop-up boxes that appear when you seem to be leaving a site – they often include discounts). And don’t forget to search the internet for promo codes. All of these tactics will help you to save on your dental plan, as well as save on the cost of your dental care.

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