Does everyone need dental insurance?

(AP Images)
(AP Images)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – You need medical insurance to protect you against the cost of an accident or illness, but what about dental insurance?

You can avoid the most likely causes and expenses of dental problems, decay and gum disease, by brushing and flossing your teeth diligently; some teeth, however, are more prone to problems. There are deals to be had and here’s how to find the good ones and some ways to cut your dental bills.

About 64 percent of Americans have dental insurance. Nearly all of them have coverage through work or a group plan, according to a survey by the National Association of Dental Plans. Most dental preferred provider organizations and regular insurance plans have an average deductible of $50 and a maximum yearly benefit of $1,000. Only two to four percent of Americans with dental insurance use up their yearly maximum allowance.

Dental plans offered through a workplace typically are one of three types. Under an Indemnity plan, You choose your provider of choice, and your plan pays a percentage of the fees. Preferred provider organization plans, PPOs, have groups of practitioners who agree to reduced fees for patients within the network. Health maintenance organizations, HMOs, cut costs by requiring members to use only providers within the network.

Some of the coverage in a typical plan includes preventive care like exams and x-rays that are covered at 100 percent. Basic procedures like extractions, fillings and root canals are covered from 70 to 80 percent. Major procedures like crowns and bridges are covered at 50 percent. Orthodontics usually can be purchased as a rider and cosmetic care is not covered.

In deciding if an insurance plan is right for you, you need to weigh the annual price of premiums, the cost of the dental care you need, and your policy’s limit on how much it pays out in benefits. Consider the policy coverage. You really start seeing the savings with more expensive treatments, like root canals and crowns

Dental insurance isn’t the only way to cut dental bills. In fact, 36 percent of Americans have no dental insurance. It may be less expensive to pay out of pocket than buy a plan. For example, teeth cleaning for an adult is roughly $85, a white dental filling averages $149, and a silver filling is about $125

In many cases, the best way to save on dentistry is with preventive care, to take excellent care of your teeth and gums, and to teach kids healthy dental routines. For example, did you know that fruit juices, carbonated drinks can help wear away your tooth enamel?

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