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Buyer's Guide

Buyer’s Guide for Dental Insurance and Discount Dental Plans

Browse Common Concerns:


While makes buying a quality dental plan as easy as possible, be extra cautious to understand these aspects before you buy.

Waiting Periods

Generally, Discount Plans and DHMO plans do NOT have wait times. Generally, PPO and indemnity plans do have them and you may be waiting up to 18 months for a procedure with preferred provider organizations and indemnity plans.

Make sure you know what the waiting periods are and that you are okay with those restrictions before you buy. If a preferred provider organization or indemnity plan is best for you, consider purchasing a discount plan until the waiting periods are over. Or, be prepared to come back to to purchase a discount plan if an accident or immediate need should arise.

Paying For Your Plan

Some plans give you a choice between an automatic withdrawal from a bank account or an automatic change on your credit card. Additionally, some plans let you pay bimonthly (every other month) or semi-annually (every six months). Once you make a choice, changing your payment due date might take time and frustration. So before you buy, make sure you understand how much will be charged or withdrawn and when.

Plan maximums

Again, it is generally true that discount plans and dental health maintenance organization plans DO NOT have plan maximums. Use either of them as much as you want. In contrast, all preferred provider organization and indemnity plans generally do have plan maximums and they generally range from $750 to $1,500. These two types of plans, then, will only contribute the yearly plan maximum toward your care in a 12-month period (either based on your anniversary date or a calendar year). Make sure you know what your plan maximums are and give some thought to whether the condition of your teeth (or your tolerance for risk) means you should have a higher or lower plan maximum.


DHMO and Discount Plans generally DO NOT charge deductibles. PPO plans and Indemnity plans generally do. Depending on the plan, these deductibles can be anywhere from $5 or more per visit up to $100 a year. That means that the plan only begins to contribute to your care after you’ve paid the first $5, or after you’ve paid the first $100 depending the plan you buy. If you purchase either of these plan types, make sure you understand that you will be responsible for paying the deductible BEFORE the plan pays anything.

Other Out-of-Pocket or Hidden Costs

The best advice is to read the details of your plan carefully. Click on “plan details,” located in the bottom line of your quote results. Only by doing so will you be prepared for and understand the extra charges that might not otherwise be noticeable.

Here are some examples:

  • Some plans charge a one-time or periodic enrollment processing fee to cover handling your paper work.
  • Some plans require that you join an association, requiring a separate small fee, before you can join their plan.
  • Some plans quote a price for a procedure, like a root canal, for example, but do not include the fact that some sort of crown or prosthetic device has to be created to replace the crown of that tooth. It’s considered a separate procedure with its own copay or charge.
  • A “local” anesthetic (numbing injection) is typically included with most major procedures and the cost is included in the price of the procedure. However, more complex procedures (some wisdom tooth extractions and surgeries) may require heavier sedation and may be an extra charge. If you understand you’re procedure is going to require sedation, ask your dentist beforehand what the charge will be AND call your dental carrier and ask how much of this charge you will be responsible for.
  • And some plans require an additional charge if you are using precious metals like gold or platinum in your crown.

Effective dates

Finally, make sure you know when your plan will take effect. It’s possible, depending on the plan and the calendar date when you bought your plan, that the effective date can be weeks away. If you have an immediate need and can’t wait, please read our article on no waiting period dental insurance.

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