Do babies need dental insurance?

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Children should see the dentist by their first birthday but having dental insurance earlier can help with dental costs.

Children should see the dentist by their first birthday but having dental insurance earlier can help with dental costs.

If you don’t have dental insurance provided through an employee-sponsored program, you can still get an affordable plan directly from an insurance provider. But if you have a family with small children, you might be wondering: do infants need dental insurance? 

Dental insurance can help pay for a portion of dental costs for any covered individual, even babies. Cavities can occur as soon as a baby has its first tooth – and while baby teeth aren’t permanent, they’re still crucial to good development and oral health. 

Luckily, adding a baby to your individual or family dental plan is usually rather affordable and straightforward. Learn how to find a baby dental insurance plan to help you save on the cost of pediatric dental care.

Why do babies need dental insurance? 

Starting at a very young age, dental insurance can help save money on the cost of routine as well as emergency dental care. While it’s still possible to get pediatric dental care without dental insurance, it’ll usually come at a higher out-of-pocket cost. 

Here’s why getting dental insurance to cover your infant’s dental care might be a good idea. 

Baby teeth can get cavities, too 

You might think that cavities are only something to be worried about with older children or teenagers. But according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 21% of children aged two to five had untreated cavities¹. What’s more, according to a CDC 2018 study dental caries (the scientific term for cavities) are the most common chronic disease among youth aged 6 to 19 years². These cavities can be caused by natural sugars in fruit juice and even milk, and of course sugary snack foods and sweets. 

Early Childhood Caries (ECC) can erode the baby teeth of even the youngest child. While baby teeth do eventually fall out, untreated ECC can lead to infections that spread to other parts of the body. Neighboring teeth can shift into the empty space, causing adult teeth to crowd as they come in. Cavities can also be painful and uncomfortable for babies and toddlers³. 

The American Dental Association (ADA) views ECC—also called baby bottle tooth decay—as a significant public health issue in select populations. To help prevent ECC, the ADA urges parents to bring their children to a dentist within six months of the first tooth emerging. The ADA also recommends that nursing mothers take more initiative with their own dental care to decrease the risk of a child developing ECC⁴. 

Tooth decay in babies is not just caused by eating unhealthy snack foods. Unrestricted nocturnal breastfeeding, excessive use of a sippy cup and failure to periodically check a baby’s teeth are some innocuous mistakes that can lead to ECC⁵. 

Dental insurance for a baby can encourage healthy habits for life 

Research has shown that oral health is linked to overall health – and that dental insurance plays a role in helping you maintain good health. Americans with dental benefits are more likely to go to the dentist, take their children to the dentist, receive restorative care, and experience greater overall health⁶. Individuals without it are more likely to have extractions and dentures and less likely to have restorative care or receive treatment for gum disease. In addition, those without dental benefits are more likely to have other illnesses, including heart disease (67% more likely), diabetes (29%), and general bone decay (50%)⁷. 

Good dental hygiene is also linked to healthy habits, and good habits should start as early as possible. Taking your child to the dentist early not only gives your dentist the chance to check for tooth decay and discuss any other conditions or habits, but it also helps you establish that good oral hygiene is a priority in your family. In addition to taking your child to the dentist, you should also start brushing your child’s teeth with a children’s toothbrush as soon as the first tooth comes in to develop healthy habits and prevent oral disease⁸. 

Dental insurance for a baby can help cover unexpected problems 

Once babies start to get teeth, those teeth can also get damaged in accidents. With all the crawling, toddling, and exploring that babies do, they can occasionally fall or chip a tooth. In fact, nearly 50% of children will have some type of oral injury during their childhood⁹. Chipped teeth, cracked teeth, and other oral injuries can lead to more serious complications, which can be prevented with early intervention.  

These sorts of injuries can be expensive to correct, but dental insurance can usually help you save on the cost of pediatric dental treatment. 

At what age do babies need dental insurance? 

The American Dental Association recommends bringing your baby to the dentist soon after the first tooth comes in and no later than the child’s first birthday¹⁰. This may sound rather early, but as soon as your baby’s teeth break through the gums, they’re at risk of developing cavities.  

So, when do babies need dental insurance? You may want to consider purchasing dental insurance coverage for your infant shortly before taking them to the dentist for the first time, if not sooner. Dental insurance can help you save on the cost of preventative care, including pediatric dental checkups, cleanings, and X-rays. Guardian Direct® dental insurance plans cover preventative care at 80-100% with no waiting periods. On the other hand, if you don’t have dental insurance, you’ll typically be responsible to pay the full cost of any preventative services received. 

If your child happens to develop early childhood caries or experience a dental injury, dental insurance may help cover a portion of the cost of treatment for those conditions as well. But keep in mind that coverage for this sort of treatment is often subject to waiting period requirements of 6-12 months, and maximum benefit amounts – the sooner you purchase dental insurance for your infant, the sooner they’ll be covered if they require dental treatment.  

Dental insurance options for your baby 

Dental insurance coverage can help protect more than just your baby’s teeth – it can help protect your finances and help reduce the cost of caring for your entire family’s oral health.  

Many Americans receive dental insurance coverage through their full-time employer. If you have access to dental benefits through an employer-sponsored group plan, you can add your baby to the same plan you are signed up for in most cases. Check with your benefits department to see if that might be an option for you. 

If you’re self-employed, unemployed, or don’t receive dental coverage through your employer, it’s still possible to obtain dental insurance coverage not only for your baby but for your entire family. You can purchase individual dental insurance directly from an insurance carrier. 

When it comes to choosing an individual dental insurance plan for you and your baby, you have quite a few options. Guardian Direct® offers several dental insurance plans to help you afford excellent dental care for your kids.  

With three dental PPO insurance plans to choose from, you can find a plan that suits your budget and your coverage needs. 

  • Guardian Direct® Starter plan covers preventive care such as cleanings and x-rays at up to 100%. They also cover basic procedures such as fillings at up to 50%. Exact coverage is subject to waiting periods and annual maximums. This is an ideal baby dental insurance plan if you’re interested in saving on cleanings and checkups, but don’t think you’ll need any major procedures done in the near future. Note that Starter plans are not available in all states. 

  • Guardian Direct® Core plan covers preventive care at 80%, basic care at up to 50%, and major care, such as root canals, crowns, and implants at up to 50%. Exact coverage is subject to waiting periods and annual maximums. With multiple dental benefits wrapped up in one plan, it’s ideal if you want to both save on the cost of cleanings and checkups and be prepared for any more serious treatment needs. 

  • Guardian Direct® Achiever plan covers preventive care at 100%, basic care up to 70%, major care up to 50%, and child braces (to members under age 19 only) up to 50%. Exact coverage is subject to waiting periods and annual maximums. If you’re interested in getting the maximum amount of dental benefits, this is the   dental insurance plan for you. 

No need to purchase dental insurance just for your baby – any Guardian Direct dental insurance plan can cover you, your spouse, and any dependents, including babies or older children. 

Baby Dental Insurance – Insights 

The costs of caring for a baby can really add up. Dental insurance can help you keep your children healthy and save on a few of the associated costs. If you’re planning on following the American Dental Association’s advice by taking your baby to the dentist early and regularly, dental insurance can help you save on the cost of preventive treatment. It can also help you cover a portion of the costs of unexpected dental problems that may arise. 

If you already have a dental insurance plan, contact your carrier or employer about adding your infant to your plan. If you don’t have any dental coverage yet, now might be a good time to purchase dental insurance to cover you and the rest of your family. 

We’ve compiled a few resources to help you purchase baby dental insurance that best fits  your budget and your coverage needs. 


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