What Are Dental Savings Plans?
Also known as dental discount plans, dental savings plans are an affordable alternative to dental insurance. If you have dental health issues that need immediate treatment or will cost more than $1,000 to address – and you don’t have employer-provided dental insurance – you may want to consider joining a dental savings plan.
Dental Care can be expensive if you don’t shop around. It’s important to learn how much is it going to cost before you set foot in the dentist office. Understanding your potential dental needs and possible dental procedures is step one of proper budgeting.
Our Dental Care Cost Estimator and Savings Calculator can help you calculate procedure costs and savings.
How are dental savings plans different from dental insurance?
No spending limit
Dental insurance coverage is typically limited to $1000-$1500 a year – about the cost of a root canal and a crown. Dental savings plans do not have annual spending limits, and can be used as often as needed. This is an important advantage for people who need expensive dental treatments.
Dental savings plans can be used to save on all dental treatments included in a plan as soon as it activates, typically within 72-hours of joining. This is a critical issue for people who need restorative dental care as soon as possible, as dental insurance often requires waiting periods of 6-12 months before covering anything but basic preventive care.
Dental insurance typically does not cover existing conditions, or dental work already in progress. The majority of dental savings plans do provide discounts on treatment for missing or failing teeth, and you can also save on in-progress dental work.
How do dental savings plans work?
Dental savings plans offer savings of 10%-60% on the typical fees charged by dentists. The discount you get on any specific treatment depends on the plan you join, the treatment you need, and the dentist’s usual rates. You can check a plan’s “fee schedule” – a list of dental treatments, typical costs and the plan’s discounted rates – to see how much you’ll save on specific procedures. After joining a plan, you gain access to a network of thousands of participating dentists who have agreed to offer reduced rates to plan members. You pay the discounted rate directly to the dentist when you receive care.
How much does a dental savings plan cost?
The average price of dental savings plan for an individual is $125.00 a year (family plans average $170.00), and you can find plans starting at $79.00. Dental insurance will typically cost $450-$500 annually for an individual policy ($800-$950 for a family) with a “preventive care only’ dental insurance plan starting at about $125.00. Factor in that dental savings plans don’t have a deductible, annual spending limits or waiting periods for restorative care, and the cost differential becomes even more apparent.
Can I save on all my dental needs with a dental savings plan?
Check specific plan details to be sure, but the majority of dental savings plans offer discounts on:
- Preventive care such as checkups, cleanings and bitewing x-rays.
- Restorative care to treat dental problems, and replace damaged or missing teeth.
- Dental specialists including endodontics (root canals), orthodontics (braces), pediatrics (dental care for children) and prosthodontics (dentures, bridges and dental implants.)
- Cosmetic treatments such as tooth whitening and overlays.
- Additional discounts: many plans include savings on prescription medications, vision and hearing care and other healthcare services.
How do I know what dental savings plan is right for me?
Decide what’s most important to you:
- Do you want a plan that your current dentist accepts, or one widely accepted by dentists near you?
- Do you need the best savings possible on specific types of dental care (such as braces or dental implants)?
- Do you have no current dental care needs, and just want the best overall dental discounts in your location?
When you’ve identified your needs, review plan description and fee schedules. You may want to use a dedicated dental savings plans search tool to quickly sort through your options.
Terms to know
Annual maximum/annual savings cap: The amount of coverage dental insurance offers annually, typically $1,000-$1,500.
Coinsurance: A percentage of the cost of a dental service that you pay out-of-pocket
Copay: A flat fee you pay for a dental service covered by insurance
Deductible: The amount you pay out-of-pocket before your coverage begins
In-network: dentists who offer negotiated low rates to people with a particular insurance policy.
Participating providers: dentists who accept a specific dental savings plan.
Pre-existing conditions: any dental problems that you had before getting dental insurance.
“Missing tooth clause”: a term used by dental insurance companies, indicating the policy doesn’t cover treatment to restore teeth missing prior to purchasing the policy.
Waiting period: The length of time that must pass before major dental procedures are covered by dental insurance.