What is Dental Insurance | Guardian Direct

What is dental insurance?

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Dental insurance generally covers a portion of the cost of a range of dental services from routine preventive care to dental surgery. Dental insurance also typically includes negotiated rates with a network of dentists, further reducing the cost of dental services.

Dental insurance can be obtained through your employer as part of your workplace benefits package or voluntary benefit, through an insurance broker, through the ACA marketplace, or directly from a dental insurance company online.

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What’s the Difference Between Dental Insurance and Dental Discount Savings Plans?

Dental insurance and dental discount savings plans are both ways that you can get the dental care you need while saving on out-of-pocket expenses. However, there are key differences between how the two types of plans treat preventive care, dental procedures, access to dentists, costs, waiting periods, annual maximums and savings bundles that you need to consider as part of your options. Discount plans are not insurance. You pay an annual fee to join the discount plan and you also pay the dentist directly the entire cost of services provided by the dentist at a discounted rate negotiated between the dentist who participates in the discount plan and the referring company. Discounts can range between 10% to 60% of the normal cost depending on the service provided. You will pay full price if the dentist you go to does not participate in the discount plan.

Many dental insurance plans will cover 100% of two preventive care visits a year, including routine cleanings, exams, X-rays, topical fluoride, and sealants.¹ Dental insurance can also lower your cost of procedures like fillings, extractions, crowns, and root canals through negotiated rates with a network of dentists and also by covering a percentage of the cost of dental care. Dental discount plans offer discounts of 10% to 60% off preventive care.²

Many dental insurance companies allow you to choose from thousands of dentists in your insurance network. Some discount networks include thousands of dentists while others include less than 200.³

Waiting periods with dental insurance vary depending on the type of dental procedure. There are typically no waiting periods for preventive care, but there can be for other types of dental services. There are no waiting periods with dental discount plans.⁴

When it comes to basic and major dental services, overall, you may pay less with dental insurance coverage over a discount dental plan. Although your monthly premiums for a dental insurance plan may be higher than your discount dental plan annual fees, insurance plans may sometimes cover 100% of dental visits and procedures (up to a stated maximum, and after your deductible if there is one). If you have any expensive procedures ahead, you’ll likely pay a lot more out-of-pocket with a dental discount plan.

How Do I Purchase Dental Insurance?

To purchase dental insurance directly from a dental insurance company, you will likely need the following:

  • Zip code of your primary residence

  • How much coverage you need

  • How much you are willing to pay each month

  • Consider if you need to cover just yourself or if your spouse or partner or your children also need coverage. You will need to know the ages of each party who needs to be insured before you can complete your quote

Once you have the above information from everyone who needs to be insured, it’s a fast, easy and secure process to purchase dental insurance online. To complete your purchase, you will just need to provide the names, addresses, and birth dates of all insured parties, as well as relevant payment information.

How Much Dental Insurance Do I Need?

Finding dental insurance plan options for you depends on a variety of factors, including how much you want to pay or can afford to pay each month. When thinking about how to shop for dental insurance, you also want to consider what procedures you may need over the next two to three years, including fillings, crowns, implants, or braces since higher tier plans provide more coverage for those procedures but may come with some increased costs. Whether you plan on needing dental work now, within six months, or within a year, as the waiting periods may vary depending on the plan level you choose. Finally, whether you’d like to keep your current dentist or if you’re open to change is an important factor since some dental practices may not be in the network of the dentist you select.


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  1. https://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/dental-insurance-1.aspx Last accessed November 2019

  2. https://www.dentalplans.com/ Last accessed November 2019

  3. https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/health/dental-insurance/  Last accessed November 2019

  4. https://www.dentalplans.com/ Last accessed November 2019

Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice.(exp.10/21)