Dental Blog / Is Dental Insurance Worth It?

Is Dental Insurance Worth It?

Updated May 2022

It’s no secret that you have a lot to consider when it comes to insurance. But while you might not think twice about things like health insurance and car insurance, you might ask yourself: do I need dental insurance, and should I get dental insurance right away? 

Like any other type of coverage, dental insurance can give you peace of mind, and you might be surprised by how much you can save. 

Why is dental insurance important? 

Even if you don’t have symptoms, it’s wise to see a dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings. But here’s the thing: even basic preventive care can add up fast. And if you ever do need a pricey filling, extraction, or root canal, you’ll be glad you had insurance to help you save money. 

Should I get dental insurance?

One way to determine if you should get dental coverage is by calculating your out-of-pocket costs and comparing them to what you’d pay if you had insurance.  

But what’s the average dental insurance cost, and how much does dental insurance cover?  Well, the nice thing about this type of insurance is it can be super affordable, yet it covers a lot. You might be able to enroll in a comprehensive plan for $50 or less per month.  

Monthly premiums vary based on your location and the provider and plan you select. Also, some policies cover more than others. Generally, though, you can get support in the following categories: preventive care, basic services, and major services. Certain plans will even cover orthodontics.  

How much does dental insurance cover?

Dental insurance can help in the following ways:

  • Preventive care might be covered at 100%, so you won’t need to worry about paying for things like exams, X-rays, cleanings, etc. 
  • Basic services might be covered at 70-80%. Depending on the insurer, this might include gum treatments, fillings, extractions, and more. 
  • Major services might be covered at 50%. Depending on the insurer, this might include root canals, crowns, bridges, dentures, and implants.
  • Orthodontics might be partially covered, such as up to 50%, if you need braces or orthodontic appliances. This might be limited to kids and teens, but some plans will cover adult orthodontics too.  
  • Cosmetic procedures like veneers might be covered by some dental plans. Others might only cover these if they’re medically necessary.  


How much would you pay without dental insurance?

Dental care prices vary based on factors like where you receive care. But, to help put things in perspective and give you an idea of how much you could potentially save with the help of dental insurance, here are some average prices:

  • Dental exams, X-rays, and cleanings might cost hundreds. An exam and X-rays might each cost $100 or more, and a cleaning might be anywhere from $70-200, on average. 
  • Fillings for cavities can be pricey, but what you’ll pay will depend on the tooth being treated and the type of filling you get. Amalgam fillings might cost $50-150, on average. Composite fillings might cost $90-250, on average. 
  • Root canals can be expensive too, and factors like the tooth being treated may affect the price. A root canal on a front tooth might cost $300-1,500, a premolar might cost $400-1,800, and a molar might cost $500-2,000, on average. 
  • Dental crowns might cost $500-3,000, on average, with factors like the material they’re made of affecting the price. 
  • Extractions might cost hundreds, and the price will be higher if you need multiple teeth pulled. While non-surgical extractions might cost upwards of $300, surgical extractions might be $600 or more, on average. Wisdom tooth extractions can be even more expensive, potentially costing thousands, especially if there’s a severe impaction. 
  • Bridges, dentures, and implants that are used to replace missing teeth might cost thousands of dollars. 


What are the types of dental plans you can choose from?

There are several types of dental plans you can choose from to ensure you get the coverage you need at a price you can afford. Here’s a basic breakdown of your main options:

Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)

This is a good option when you want more freedom to choose your dentist. Using an in-network dentist will likely help you save the most money, but you may also receive some support if you see an out-of-network provider. Plus, you might not need to get referrals to specialists. However, these plans tend to be more expensive, and it’s important to be aware of the out-of-pocket costs, such as copays, coinsurance, and deductibles.

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)

HMO dental plans tend to be less expensive, and you might not have to worry about deductibles. However, you’ll likely need to stay in-network to receive benefits (emergencies might be an exception). This means that, if you end up seeing an out-of-network dentist, you may not get any help at all. Also, these plans may require that you get a referral to see a specialist. And, unlike PPOs, you might need to select a PCP.  


Also known as fee-for-service, an indemnity dental plan lets you choose any dentist, so this can be a great choice if you don’t want to deal with networks. The plan will reimburse you up to a certain percentage for covered dental care services. Out-of-pocket costs might include a premium and deductible. 

What should you consider when shopping for the right dental plan?

Honing in on the following might help you select the ideal policy more easily:

Out-of-pocket fees – These include the monthly premium, as well as copays, deductibles, and coinsurance. Also, if a service is covered up to a certain amount, you’ll be responsible for the balance. 

Annual and lifetime maximums – There might be a limit on the amount of money an insurer will pay. Once the limit is reached, you’ll be responsible for paying the rest. 

Services that aren’t covered – Some services might not be covered at all. In that case, you’d need to pay for them completely out of pocket. 

Waiting periods – Some insurers impose waiting periods that vary in length. Until you’ve completed a waiting period, you won’t be eligible for certain benefits, if any. If you don’t want this, there are dental plans without waiting periods

Pre-existing condition exclusions – Some plans might not cover pre-existing conditions, so check the details to see if you’ll be able to receive the support you need.

Emergency coverage – A plan should outline what will be covered if you need emergency care. 

Networks – Consider the quality of the provider network. If you want to stick with a dentist you’ve been using, figure out if they’re in-network before enrolling in a plan. 

Don’t wait to buy dental insurance 

When it comes to dental insurance, having it in place in advance is best. Waiting until you need expensive care isn’t a smart move because you might run into restrictions like waiting periods or pre-existing condition exclusions. Plus, delaying treatment might cause a problem to worsen quickly. 

How much is dental insurance in your area, and what types of plans are available? Browse the Direct Benefits Marketplace to find the perfect policy and start the enrollment process as soon as you’re ready.