Dental insurance is one of those things that most people don’t think about until they really need it. Like a twenty-eight-year-old with pearly whites and perfect gums who, one day, gets his jaw broken and two front teeth chipped thanks to an ATV ride gone horribly wrong. In the insurance world, it’s all Murphy’s Law. Anything that can go wrong most probably definitely will.
So here’s a guide to help you navigate through the dental insurance system, whether you need it, and what the best options are.
How Dental Insurance Works
Dental insurance is what we call supplemental insurance--but you probably already knew that. Basically it’s just important to note that your basic health insurance won’t cover for preventive care, and worker’s comp won’t always cover for tooth damage that occurs at your place of work.(1)
Most people only enter a dentist’s office for their bi-yearly cleanings and X-rays, sliding their group plan’s card across the desk as they go. The average cost for these group policies can range from $168-$366 a year for individuals and $325-$680 a year for families. When you think about how much it actually costs to check in for two cleanings per person, and maybe an X-ray or two, the costs usually average around $400 for an individual and up to $600 plus for a family(2).
You can guess that these averages can be higher when shopping the individual market. And at this point you might be asking yourself, OK, what’s the point then? Can I just take whatever my company offers (given that you’re not self-employed) and call it a day?
In some instances, yes. If your entire family is covered at a $2,000 maximum benefit per person, and you’re paying under $50 a month for it, by all means throw up your hands in praise. But look at the fine print of your work’s health insurance offerings. If you’re paying a pretty chunk of change per month for only a $1000 maximum benefit, you might want to start considering your options. Ask yourself these questions:
Insuring for the Worst-Case Scenarios
So the Big Bad in this scenario is oral surgery and orthodontia, right? Everybody knows somebody who’s had braces, or their wisdom teeth removed, or even a root canal. So what we want to know is, how expensive (on average) do these scenarios get, and how does dental insurance cover for them?
Wisdom Teeth: Wisdom teeth have a whopping range of anywhere between $75-$800. This depends on the number of teeth being removed (anywhere between 1-4 teeth may need to be removed), anesthesia, and overall complexity.(2)
Root Canal: Root canals, “a procedure that replaces infected pulp in a root canal with an inert material,” cost an average of $900.(2)
Orthodontia: Braces--and it’s not just kiddos that need them either! It’s important to note that not every dental insurance plan and network will cover for orthodontia, as it is usually seen as a voluntary cosmetic surgery. Sometimes state law dictates that children must be insured for braces, but even then it usually occurs because the child in question may have problems chewing otherwise. We hereby give you permission to drill us (and any agent you talk to) about what fine print comes with orthodontia and your dental plan. The average cost for braces can vary, but we’ve never seen it go below a bare minimum of $2.5k.(5)
Alright: Sign Me Up, Scotty
If you’ve made it this far, we’d like to thank you. We know even the thought of a toothache is liable to make one suddenly appear. But you’ve answered our questions and considered your options, and you’d like us to take it from here. You’re thinking, yeah, why not get a free quote while I’m at it?
So, here’s all you’ve got to do: