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Dental insurance is an insurance policy that covers most of the costs associated with dental care.
Many dental insurance plans cover some portion of the cost for dental procedures like oral surgery, preventive care services, crowns, fillings, and root canals.
The dental costs to be covered typically vary depending on the dental insurance plan. For example, some dental insurance plans do not cover cosmetic procedures such as whitening and crowns.
Dental plan benefits differ depending on age. For adults in the U.S.:
Dental insurance coverage enables people to properly make budgets for the costs of maintaining a healthy smile.
Most dental insurance plans are straightforward. Some form part of medical insurance plans, while others work as a stand-alone policy.
Here is a breakdown of how dental insurance works:
When you sign up for a health plan, such as a dental plan, you may find out that it requires a waiting period.
A dental insurance waiting period is a duration of time you have to wait before getting the full coverage for certain dental procedures.
Dental insurance waiting periods vary depending on an individual’s plan.
They can range from months to over a year. These periods simply mean that some dental procedures (like major services) may not be covered immediately.
Dental insurance waiting periods are particularly for major dental work and basic services. Almost all dental plans cover preventive services right away.
There are some dental insurance plans that have no waiting periods. However, waiting periods might benefit you because they help minimize the costs of dental insurance.3
Some insurance plans are designed to have about a 6-month waiting period to prevent patients from receiving costly dental services, making them drop the dental coverage shortly after, which also results in higher premiums for both parties.
Typically, waiting periods are for major dental work and basic services. You and your family can still receive dental services like examinations and x-rays as dental plans for these preventive procedures typically do not require waiting periods.
If you want dental insurance that offers dental benefits right away, seek those with no waiting periods, such as DHMO plans or dental insurance for veterans.6
Below are some of the options for people seeking dental insurance with no waiting period:
While Dental Preferred Provider Organization (DPPO) plans usually involve waiting periods, most Dental Health Maintenance Organization (DHMO) plans don’t involve that. DHMO is a type of plan where a dentist agrees to render services to a patient as an in-network provider at a reduced cost. This type of plan usually has no maximum and no deductible.
The Veterans Affairs Dental Insurance Program (VADIP) makes it possible for providers to offer veterans special dental insurance plans with no waiting periods.
About two-thirds of American citizens obtained private dental coverage, while about 90 percent obtained their benefits through an employer or other group programs like the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).5
Dental insurance plans offered by some employers do not have waiting periods. Contact your workplace HR department and find out if your employer’s group plan enables you to enjoy your coverage right away.
Other places to search for dental insurance with no waiting period include insurance companies like:
It would help to research these insurance providers and other companies. Compare the companies to find out which ones offer dental plans with no waiting periods for preventive dental care, basic care, or major dental work.
Eligibility for dental insurance with no waiting period will depend on the dental insurance plan and company.
Some insurance companies might waive waiting periods for certain services if you have an existing dental insurance plan for 12 or more consecutive months.
Dental plans with no waiting periods are ideal for patients who need to undergo major dental work or those putting off dental health care due to costs.
There are alternatives to dental insurance.
For example, you can opt for dental savings plans. These plans work like membership subscriptions where you pay for one-year access to dental services at significantly reduced rates.
Benefits of dental savings plans include affordability to meet your needs and budgets, no paperwork, and no caps or limits.
You can also opt for discount dental plans such as Delta Dental Patient Direct, which has no paperwork to file and no waiting period. This plan only requires that an enrollee pays the discounted fee to the dentist at the time of treatment.2
Other alternatives to dental insurance include:
Prevention is always better than fixing an existing condition. Taking care of your teeth and gums is one way to cut dental costs.
Like charitable organizations, charitable dental clinics will enable you to get dental care at a low cost. The clinic can be one provided by your community or one staffed by dentist volunteers.
Research has found that visiting the dentist more than once a year for a dental exam has little or no benefits compared to one visitation per year.
Thus, you might want to cut costs by getting one cleaning or examination annually, provided you do not have serious dental issues.
Some dental practices offer patients an in-office plan that takes a percentage off of services. They also give you a set amount of treatments that are included each year (like two cleanings and two exams).
You will find different health centers offering dental services in different parts of the country.
Visiting health centers that receive funding from the federal government might help you cut costs as they usually charge affordable rates.4