Dental Insurance – What You Need to Know

Most medical plans don’t cover dental work, so many people purchase separate dental insurance. Like health insurance, it requires a premium and includes a deductible, copayments and annual maximums.

Knowing how much common procedures cost can help you budget for them. Here’s what to expect: Preventive care: $65 to $100 per child, for 1-2 checkups annually.

Preventive care

Dental insurance or benefits are meant to offset the risk that you will need a procedure like getting a cavity filled or having a root canal done. These procedures can be very expensive, and without insurance, they can cost thousands of dollars.

Most Medicare Advantage plans offer coverage for preventative care, with most requiring only a small copayment per visit. However, dental cost sharing varies among plans and services. Some require a deductible, while others have annual limits on coverage.

DPPO plans usually follow a formula that covers preventive care at 100%, basic procedures such as fillings and extractions at 80%, and major procedures like crowns at 50%. These plans typically have a large network of dentists who contract with the insurer and can give you significant discounts on their fees.


A dental cleaning is a procedure that helps maintain a healthy smile. It can help prevent the development of serious dental problems in the future. It can also reduce the risk of costly treatments. The cost of a cleaning depends on the location, type of teeth cleaning, and dental insurance coverage.

Dental cleanings are a routine part of oral care for most patients. Depending on the patient’s oral health, cleanings are typically done every six months or twice a year.

People with gum disease or excessive plaque build-up may need more frequent dental cleanings. These patients might need a deeper type of cleaning called debridement. Dental insurance plans usually cover these costs up to 100 percent, although the patient might need to meet a deductible or co-pay.


X-rays are an important diagnostic tool for dentists, helping them see more of your teeth and bones than they can with their eyes. These X-rays, or radiographs, are generally safe and do not emit radiation that is harmful to the rest of your body. Only a small amount of radiation is emitted, which is less than a flight from New York to Los Angeles or a mammogram.

X-rays are necessary for identifying potential problems before they cause serious damage to your gum tissues or visible tooth surfaces. X-rays are also used to diagnose conditions that cannot be spotted during an oral exam, such as impacted teeth or abnormal development of the jawbone and skull. The most common types of X-rays are intraoral periapical and panoramic, which provide a view of the entire mouth. Other X-rays include cephalometric and cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT), which are used for treatment planning and diagnosis of temporomandibular disorders or sleep apnea.


Fillings are used to repair small to medium cavities and prevent decay from spreading. They are an essential part of dental hygiene as they block out food and bacteria that cause tooth decay.

Different types of filling materials are available including silver amalgam, composite resin, porcelain and ceramics. The choice depends on the extent of the damage, where it is located in your mouth and your budget.

Amalgam fillings are less expensive than other filling options but they may not last as long. Composites are more costly but they look more natural and resist staining. Porcelain and ceramics are more durable than composites but they cost more too. If you have a cavity, it’s important to get a filling sooner rather than later because if the decay is left untreated, it will eventually lead to more serious and expensive treatments such as root canals or extractions.


Crowns can correct a broken, chipped or decayed tooth. They also protect teeth that have had root canal treatments. They can be made of porcelain, ceramic, resin, metal or a mixture of these materials. Porcelain crowns are the most expensive but offer the best aesthetic and longest lasting solution.

Dental insurance plans may cover some or all of the cost for crowns. However, they may require a waiting period before major restorative procedures like crowns are covered.

You can save on the cost of dental crowns by choosing an in-network dentist. Many dental offices have a list of preferred providers that are contracted with your insurance company. You can also check if your insurance covers dental schools. These institutions often run programs for low-cost treatment.

Root canals

Root canals are needed when the tissues, nerves and blood vessels inside of a tooth become infected. During the procedure, your dentist drills into the affected tooth and removes all of the infected tissue before filling it with gutta percha, a material that acts like the natural tooth’s material.

The cost of a root canal varies widely depending on the severity of your infection and the location of the affected tooth in your mouth (front teeth typically have one root while molars have several). Additional procedures and visits will also increase the total expense of the treatment.

Dental insurance policies often cover some or all of the cost of a root canal. If you do not have insurance, many dental practices offer in-house payment plans that can be used to cover the cost of treatments like root canals and crowns.


Dentures are a common way to replace missing teeth. They can be expensive, but they can also make it easier to speak, eat, and smile. Dental insurance can help defray the cost of dentures.

The type of denture and its materials can affect the price. Basic dentures tend to be less expensive, but they may not last as long as more expensive options.

A dental professional’s expertise can also affect the cost of dentures. Experienced professionals will charge more for their services than those with little experience. Location can also affect the cost of dentures, as some areas are more expensive than others. For instance, dentists in urban areas typically charge more than those in rural areas. This can be due to higher operating costs and a larger population of people who need their services.

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