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Dental Costs

Updated on October 3, 2022

Dental Care Costs With and Without Insurance

Elena Borrelli
Written by 
Alyssa Hill
Medically Reviewed by Elena Borrelli
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Your oral health is an integral part of your overall well being. It affects your senses (taste and smell), your self-esteem, and your general health.

Poor oral health can lead to:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Weakened immune system

It is important to see your dentist twice a year and establish a good oral care routine. Unfortunately, some dental treatments can be quite expensive. 

Our goal is to educate our readers on the average costs of dental procedures and ways to save money. This often includes purchasing dental insurance or a dental savings plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does dental insurance cover?

Many dental insurance companies use the 100-80-50 plan model, which covers 100 percent of preventative care, 80 percent of basic procedures, and 50 percent of major procedures.

Is it worth paying for dental insurance?

If you only need teeth cleanings, x-rays, and regular check-ups, you may end up losing money with dental insurance. But if you need restorative dental work or surgery, insurance can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars on treatment.

What do you do if you can't afford a dentist?

There are some options for people who can’t afford dental insurance or dental care. These include:

  • Low-cost dental clinics

  • Nonprofit and free dental clinics

  • Public dental clinics

  • Dental schools

  • Donated Dental Services (DDS)

  • Medicaid

  • Medicare

  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

  • Clinical trials

Is a dental savings plan the same as insurance?

No, a dental savings plan (dental discount plan) is like a club membership. You’ll pay a small monthly or annual fee and receive discounts on dental services from in-network dentists. You don’t have to fill out paperwork, and there are no waiting periods or pre-existing conditions restrictions.

Key Terms

Elective Procedure

Dental Discount Plans

Medicare

Medicaid

Waiting Period

Elective Procedure

An elective procedure is one that is not medically necessary. These include routine, cosmetic, most orthodontic procedures, and other procedures that don’t prevent or relieve pain.
Learn More:
Dental Insurance - What Is Covered, What Isn't Covered

Dental Discount Plans

Dental discount plans, also called dental savings plans, are like club memberships. You pay a monthly or annual fee, and in return, you get discounts on certain procedures from dentists within that provider’s network.
Learn More:
What are Dental Discount Plans?

Medicare

Medicare is federal health care for people 65 or older, people with disabilities, and people with end-stage renal disease. Original Medicare doesn’t typically cover dental care, but. some Medicare Advantage plans do.
Learn More:
Medicare Dental

Medicaid

Medicaid is jointly funded by both the federal and state governments. It provides health care coverage to low-income families and individuals. Medicaid covers dental care for children, and each state determines whether it covers dental for adults.
Learn More:
Dental Help for Adults With Disabilities

Waiting Period

A dental insurance waiting period is the length of time you have to wait before getting the full coverage for certain dental procedures. They can be months or over a year. Some dental procedures may not be covered immediately. They typically apply for major dental work and basic services. Preventative services are usually covered right away.
Learn More:
How to Find Dental Insurance With No Waiting Period
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