Why should I get dental insurance?

When researching dental insurance, you may find dozens of articles outlining why dental coverage isn’t the best investment. For most people, dental costs will be low throughout the year. Two cleanings, two checkups and one set of X-rays each year comprise the majority of dental care for average, healthy adults and children in the United States. However, dental insurance, like all forms of insurance, works on the premise of a “what if” scenario. What if you need extensive dental work? What if you lose a tooth suddenly in an accident? What if your kids need braces? You might consider dental insurance a poor investment, but we’ll give you five good reasons to sign up for a dental policy.

#1: Most monthly premiums are low.

How much does dental insurance cost? The answer to this question depends on the type of plan you get. There are three types of dental plans: DPPOs, DHMOs and indemnity plans. Dental preferred provider organizations cost around $25 a month per individual. With a dental health maintenance organization plan, you’ll pay between $12 and $20 per month, per person. Indemnity plans, which are usually only offered through your employer, you’ll pay around $40 a month. Even with an indemnity plan, you’re paying less than $500 per year for dental treatments.

A single visit to the dentist for a cleaning, X-rays and checkup can cost more than $200. If you use your insurance twice in the year, then you’ve nearly made up the cost of your premiums. With DPPO and DHMO plans, the cost is even better.

#2: You won’t have to worry about unexpected issues.

Financial experts suggest that people might fare better if they set aside a personal savings account to pay for dental care instead of buying insurance. This strategy could work for young, healthy adults with few dental problems, but consider this: You can’t always prevent teeth and gum disasters. Sports injuries and hereditary problems can trump the most meticulous at-home dental care. A single root canal can cost around $1,000, but dentists can charge two to three times this much depending on the complexity of your case. Save your savings for a rainy day, and invest in a dental plan instead.

#3: You’ll need more work as you age.

Young people tend to skip out on health insurance in general because they enjoy relatively few health problems. However, teeth age just like you do, and you’re much more likely to need extensive dental work as you get older. From crowns and bridges to denture sets, you may face a lot of expenses in the coming years. Buying dental insurance now helps you mitigate the cost of these pricey services. One reason is that the cost or co-pay for procedures decreases over time. If you obtain dental insurance now, which can be as inexpensive as $15 a month, you’re paying into having much better coverage for less later in life when you’ll need it the most.

#4: Dental insurance is easy to get.

You might think that dental insurance is difficult to get because it’s not part of medical coverage, but dental coverage can be easier to obtain than medical coverage in some cases. Your employer may offer a policy that’s rolled into medical and vision, or you might be given the option to enroll in a standalone dental plan. There are also hundreds of dental insurance carriers across the country that offer private plans, and you may even be able to sign up online with a major insurer.

While dental coverage is not required under the Affordable Care Act, you can still use your state’s exchange or the federal marketplace to purchase dental insurance. Before you rush to sign up for a dental policy on HealthCare.gov, though, know this: You can only enroll in dental coverage if you sign up for medical insurance first. On the marketplace, you can choose a medical policy that includes dental coverage or a standalone dental plan as long as you’ve enrolled in a medical plan.

#5: You’ll have it when you need it.

Most dental plans include a waiting period for intensive dental work like crowns and bridges, and the waiting period can be as long as 12 months or more in some cases. If you need a root canal, you need it now. Waiting will only make the problem worse, and you could end up with thousands of dollars’ worth of dental work instead of a straightforward root canal. Establishing good rapport with your insurance carrier now makes it easier to get treatments approved when you need them.

Only you can decide whether the cost of dental insurance works for your individual or family needs. If you don’t think that you can afford a dental plan, then you have another option known as a dental discount plan. These plans allow you to visit dental providers who participate in the plan and receive discounted rates on certain services. It’s not insurance, but a dental discount plan could help you get the treatments you need without paying a monthly premium. Insurance of any kind helps ensure that you have access to care when you need it most, so check out all of your options first before deciding against this investment.