Different methods of affording dental care.

Ideally, we’d all like our teeth to last a lifetime. Maintaining good oral health saves you from the pain and expense of major oral health issues, but it’s also better for your overall health. Keeping up with your preventive care and getting prompt treatment for oral health concerns are both vital parts of keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Unfortunately, the costs involved can seem overwhelming without some form of coverage—especially if you wind up needing major treatments.

This is where dental insurance comes in, offering coverage for various dental treatments in exchange for a monthly fee. Dental insurance is complex and varies a lot between companies and plans, however, and some people feel that it doesn’t meet their needs as well as it should. These people sometimes prefer dental membership plans as an alternative to dental insurance. But what’s the difference, and is one better than the other? Dental insurance and dental membership plans each have their own pros and cons, but there isn’t a solid answer regarding which is better than the other. Which one is best for you will depend on your individual needs. We’ve outlined the pros and cons of each to help you make the decision between dental insurance and a dental membership plan.

The Cost of Dental Insurance

The average American pays about $360 a year for dental insurance, but it’s wise to get estimates before you make plans. This is because there are a lot of different dental insurance companies out there, so the cost of each plan and the coverage it offers can vary widely. The cost of living in your area will also impact the cost of your insurance plan.

The Pros of Dental Insurance

While there are a lot of different insurance plans that can offer you varying levels of coverage, most dental insurance plans fit a basic mold. They generally cover preventive care in full, which includes treatments like your twice-yearly dental cleaning, annual x-rays, and oral cancer screenings. This enables you to stay on top of dental problems before they become major—and more expensive—health issues. Dental insurance usually covers 70% to 80% of the cost for basic procedures like getting a cavity filled, and 50% or less of the coverage for major procedures like root canal therapy, a dental crown, and bridges. Many insurance plans also offer coverage for orthodontic treatment up to a certain dollar amount or percentage, but this varies based on the plan you choose.

These levels of coverage mean that when you do experience a major oral health concern, you don’t have to worry about paying the full cost of most types of treatment. Dental insurance can greatly reduce your overall bill, making an otherwise expensive treatment affordable, and helping you to get the prompt treatment you need. Additionally, the versatility and wide range of options that dental insurance provide means that you can seek out a plan that fits both your oral health needs and your budget. You’re able to balance the level of coverage that you expect you’ll need with the bill you can afford to pay each month.

The Cons of Dental Insurance

Like anything, dental insurance has a few cons. One of the biggest cons is that it doesn’t cover all types of dental treatments. It won’t cover treatments that the company considers elective or optional, even if there are real benefits to getting the treatment; for example, cosmetic dentistry treatments like tooth whitening and porcelain veneers aren’t covered by dental insurance. Since many insurance companies still consider dental implants to be a cosmetic treatment despite their many oral health benefits, implants often aren’t covered at all. This is starting to change, however, so it’s wise to check this issue specifically when you’re looking at insurance plans. Although some dental insurance plans have a deductible, most plans have a cap on how much they’ll cover each year instead; this cap usually sits between $1000 and $2000. Most people don’t reach the cut-off, especially not multiple years in a row, but if you need major dental treatments it’s surprisingly easy to surpass it.

The other major downside of dental insurance is a slight loss of freedom when it comes to decisions about your oral health. This depends on the insurance company you choose, but you will often have to see a dentist who is “in-network” to get coverage. This means that you’ll be limited in the dental offices you can choose from. This isn’t always a big problem because many dental offices accept the major dental insurance providers. If you already have a dentist you love, however, it’s wise to keep this in mind and check if you’ll be able to continue to see them when you choose an insurance provider. Additionally, you may have to get treatments pre-approved by your insurance company, which can slow down the treatment process. As a result, you might end up having to endure your tooth pain for a little longer than you otherwise would have. In some cases, insurance can even limit your treatment options.

The Pros of Dental Membership Plans

Our dental membership plans cover preventive care in full, just like dental insurance does. The adult plan covers treatments that many dental insurance companies don’t cover fully for adults, such as two fluoride treatments a year. It also covers two periapical x-rays and one set of four bitewing x-rays each year, as well as any individual x-rays you end up needing throughout the year. You’ll get a 50% discount on limited evaluations and CBCT/3D Imaging, and 20% off any other service we offer. This means that you’ll have discounts and lower out-of-pocket costs on treatments that dental insurance won’t cover at all, from tooth-whitening treatments to a dental implant.

While these details are specific to our dental health club, most dental savings plans follow a similar outline. Choosing a dentist you love and then signing up for their dental savings plan gives you more freedom in your dental care because you’re able to choose the Duvall dentist you like best. You also don’t have to worry about whether or not your insurance will deny coverage for treatments—whether they’re necessary or elective. This gives you the freedom to choose the treatment that fits your goals best.

The Cost of Dental Membership Plans

Dental membership plans work similarly to insurance, providing coverage or discounts on treatments in return for a monthly fee. At Duvall Dental Center, we have a few in-house dental membership plans that you can choose from. The plan for adults costs $453 a year, plus a one-time enrollment fee of $60. We also offer a periodontal therapy membership plan and a child membership plan.

Choosing Between a Dental Membership Plan or Dental Insurance

Dental insurance and dental membership plans are both useful methods of lowering the cost of dental treatment. They’re both designed to help ensure that you can afford the dental care that you need to stay healthy. Which method is right for you, however, depends greatly upon your coverage needs and personal preferences, so it’s hard to say whether one is better than the other. If you have any questions about our dental membership plan or other financing options to help you afford your treatment, feel free to call our office at any time.