What does average dental insurance cost?

The most common indication that something is wrong with our teeth is pain. Our first reaction is to make it go away. We reach for the medicine cabinet.  The pain goes away but the ‘root’ cause is still there. There is no CURE in the medicine cabinet! Just pain relief, a way of postponing that dreaded visit to the dentist.

Usually the cause is tooth decay (caries, often the cause of ‘bad breath’) which can only be cured (arrested) by a visit to the dentist.


For many people pain is the first signal that they need to visit their dentist!  Why do we leave it so late? Top of the list is cost.  Nearly 60% of us who do not visit their dentist regularly give cost as the reason.

There really is no average dental insurance cost.  The cost of coverage will depend on your age, tobacco use and location. But don’t despair.  Typically, a low-cost Indemnity Dental Insurance can cost as little as $10 per month and offers you a 30-40% discount on list price treatments. Of course, there are limitations but it will ease the pain of dental visits.

Over 20% of us claim to be afraid of the dentist. (J.Elflein, Research Expert, Health and Pharmaceuticals, Statista 2019).

The cost of many plans (HMO or PPO) will cover 100% of the cost of preventative care. This in itself can lessen the need for emergency visits (we’ll talk about plan types later) and the likelihood of uncomfortable interventions.

Before we talk about Dental Health Plans and how to choose one, we should just remind you that if you or your spouse has an ACA compliant health plan, or qualifies for Medicare, DENTAL INSURANCE IS INCLUDED FOR DEPENDENT CHILDREN under the age of 18.  Nearly 20% of people said they didn’t visit the dentist because either time or location was inconvenient.  Don’t let it stop you from putting your children on the right track.

Dental insurance plan types.

Just like Healthcare there are affordable dental insurance plans to suit your personal situation.  If you are thinking about Dental Insurance don’t wait until the last minute.  Do it now!  For some procedures (expensive ones) insurers insist on a waiting period before you can claim benefits.  You can’t blame them.  If they did not, everyone would wait to insure themselves until they were desperate and…they would be refused anyway!

That’s that out of the way. Now the plans and an overview of costs.

There are three main types dental plans

  • Indemnity Dental Insurance – IDS
  • Dental Preferred Provider Organization – DPPO
  • Dental Health Maintenance Organization – DHMO

IDS (Indemnity Dental Insurance)

Indemnity Dental Insurance plans are like Indemnity Health Plans.  You can visit any Supplier (dentist).  You will pay a set amount (usually a percentage of the ‘list price’ agreed by the dentist and the insurer).

You will be responsible for the balance.  Some providers expect you to pay the whole bill and wait for reimbursement from your insurer.

There will probably be a cap ($2,000-$3,000) on annual benefit but it is a simple and straightforward way of managing your dental care costs.

DPPO (Dental Preferred Provider Organization)

Dental Preferred Provider Organization plans, rather like their equivalent health plans, negotiate lower rates with ‘their’ preferred providers (the network).

The terms will vary depending on your insurer but most operate the ‘100-80-50’ rule.  If you attend a preferred provider, you plan covers: –

  • 100% of your preventative care services
  • 80% of defined basic procedures
  • 50% of ‘major’ procedures (crowns might be an example).

As with most insurances there are limitations. There will be maximum benefits in each calendar year, deductibles and as with most insurances, an interval before you claim for certain procedures.

DHMO (Dental health maintenance organization)

Dental Health Maintenance Organization plans emphasize the importance of preventative care.  The monthly premiums are relatively low, and plans have no waiting period before coverage begins.  There is usually no deductible, annual limit on benefits or claims to make.

Check-ups, cleaning and X-rays are generally covered in full.

Depending on your choice of plan certain major or restorative procedures may be excluded or 50% co-insured.

Cost of Dental Insurance

Of course, it depends on the type of plan you choose and whether you opt for family coverage.  Can you or your spouse join a group (usually an employment-based scheme)?

As a rough guide you can reckon on $25-40 per month (individual) or $65-$95 for a family. The most common plans (PPO) have a maximum benefit in the range $1,500-$2,000.  Some plans have deductibles between say $100-200 p.a.

All this may sound like a lot of money but you need also to consider the cost of dental services without dental insurance.  A session of dental cleaning averages around $200; an extraction averages over $300 and a dental crown as much as $2,500.  Given that preventative treatment (annual) is normally 100% covered, the appropriate dental insurance is good insurance. This is especially true of young children.  Their oral wellbeing can be critical and the habit of dental visits should last a lifetime.

How to find affordable dental insurance.

Your Health Insurance Exchange will be able to advise you. You can also turn to your Health Insurance provider, who will often offer clients favorable term.

Read more about: Dental insurance for seniors , How to save money by maintaining proper dental hygiene?

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