Dental insurance may seem like a great idea to a lot of people. It gives them a sense of security. They can get work done at the dentist when they need it, as they need it. Insurance covers regular expenses and is especially useful if you need a significant amount of dental work. However, there are downsides too. Let's discuss the pros and cons of dental insurance.
You Know You Can Go to the Dentist When You Need to
When you have dental insurance you don't have to worry that you can't afford going to the dentist. You won’t need to worry about being disciplined enough to save the money you and your family will need for these expenses. Paying the insurance premiums gives you the peace of mind that you are covered when you need dental care.
Covers Regular Dental Expenses
Your dental insurance usually covers your most important dental needs such as checkups, cleanings, fillings, polishing and even sometimes oral surgery. You can be assured that you won’t have to pay for these expenses when you visit your dentist, depending on your policy.
If You Have Children or Need Regular Dental Work
If you have children or grandchildren who are still quite young, you may not want to scrap your dental insurance just yet. Children usually require more dental work than adults (fillings, braces) so their expenses are higher. If you have problematic teeth or are not the best at maintain a good brushing and flossing routine, it is also wise to stay on an insurance plan.
Now let’s talk about why dental insurance may not be necessary for you and your family.
Dental Work is Regular and Predictable
If you are the type that goes to the dentist for two checkups and cleanings each year, then your dental expenses are very predictable and can be accounted for in your budget. If you are an adult with good oral hygiene, meaning you brush every day and floss regularly and you've had very few dental problems in the past, it may not be worth it to pay into premiums and spend all of that money.
Doesn’t Cover All Dental Services
Another thing you should know about dental insurance is that it indeed covers some basic dental expenses, but cosmetic and major dental work is, at best, only partially covered. Unless you get a full coverage plan that comes with high premiums, there will be limited to no coverage for services such as bridges, crowns and dentures. Companies hesitate to include such work in policies and this means saving up. If you anticipate problems with your teeth or your children’s teeth, you’ll either need to shop around for the best deal on full coverage or set aside money to save up for these costly services.
Most People Can Cover their Dental Expenses
Sometimes paying insurance premiums and co-pays may work out to be more expensive than what you would pay if you just saved the money. This is especially true if you don't take advantage of the bi-annual checkups and cleanings. In order to even come close to breaking even you have to have more than two checkups and two cleanings/polishes in a year (which most policies won’t let you do anyway) A majority of insured people do not need much more dental work than that in the average year.
So what’s the best thing to do?
To buy or not to buy, that is the question. References to Shakespeare aside (and I’m pretty sure his teeth were nothing to smile about), only you can determine if dental insurance is right for you. If you are fortunate enough to have dental coverage as part of your work benefits and you have healthy teeth, this may be enough. If you can save money by saving up for dental costs and you have the discipline to do so, then price out the services you need against paying for a policy and see which method makes the most sense for you. If you have problem teeth and anticipate many trips to the dentist, a policy may save you money in the long run.