What you need to know about individual dental policies

If you are self-employed or your employer does not offer dental insurance, you may find yourself putting off a needed visit to the dentist. Preventive care may just be a dream. However, you can reduce the cost of your oral health care if you get the right individual dental policy. Before you buy, however, make certain that you understand exactly what benefits the policy offers.

Waiting Period

Many individual dental policies contain a waiting period of possibly six months or more before you can take advantage of coverage on fillings, crowns, and other procedures. Most allow you access to preventative services right away. However, you need to buy a dental policy before you actually need it. Running out to enroll when you need a root canal is not going to benefit you financially. When your employer offers these policies, you generally do not have to wait for dental treatments. Individual policies are a different matter.

Limited Benefits

You need to carefully look at the benefits you will receive under your policy. Even after you've met the waiting period, your policy may only cover 50% or some other percentage of the expenses. Also, some items like braces may not be covered at all. Policies vary, so be sure you've read the fine print before you buy. Also, if you already have a dentist, make certain they are in network with the insurance company you are considering. Nothing will frustrate you more than to receive a rejection of major dental expenses due to your provider being out of network.


Do comparison shop your premiums but realize that the cheapest dental policies may not cover much. The average cost of a dental policy is $360 a year, and for some people, that is more than their checkups and cleanings would cost. However, if your teeth are cavity prone or you have gum issues, your yearly bill could be much more than several hundred dollars. Take a look at your usual yearly outlay on dental expenses to see if buying a policy will benefit you and your family.

For some people, buying dental insurance makes financial sense, especially if expensive dental procedures have been in their past. If you are one of these folks, paying over $300 a year for insurance is a smart financial decision. You do need to know about your policy's waiting period and coverage limitations. Otherwise, you may receive a disturbing dental bill in the mail.

Talk to your local dentists to see which policies their offices accept to be sure you are covered.