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Buyer's Guide

Buyer’s Guide for Dental Insurance and Discount Dental Plans

Browse Common Concerns:

Cost Comparison of Four Types

Below is a chart comparing THREE YEAR out-of-pocket costs between:

  • a dental discount plan,
  • a dental health maintenance organization,
  • a preferred provider organization using an in-network dentist,
  • the same preferred provider organization using an out-of-network dentist,
  • an indemnity plan and
  • no insurance at all.

If you’ve been wondering what the relative cost differences are in the four types of plans or how much extra it costs to have the freedom to see an out-of-network dentist, take a look at the chart below.

For the sake of example, the chart supposed that the same individual would receive:

  • a cleaning twice a year in each of the first three years of the plan
  • one, single-surface filling (using a white composite filling material) in the first year of the plan
  • one crown in the second year of the plan
  • one root canal and one crown in the third year of the plan

The chart then totals up all of your out-of-pocket costs for the three years you were on the plan.

IMPORTANT: Only use this chart to compare the RELATIVE cost differences between the four types of plans. While the prices below were taken on the same day from one area of the country, different plans have different cost factors—things like deductibles, waiting periods, yearly plan maximums and reimbursement rates for different dentists. That means this chart will give you a general sense of the differences in cost between plan types but your exact costs will depend on where you live, the insurance company you choose and your unique circumstances.

Discount Plan

Dental Health Maintenance Organization

Preferred Provider Organization,


Preferred Provider Organization,


Indemnity Plan*

No Insurance

Monthly Fee/  total for

3 years













Preventive Care (2 sessions per year):

- in year 1

- in year 2

- in year 3



















White composite filling, 1 surface:

- in year 1








-in year 2







Root Canal + Crown:

-in year 3








3-year cost total:







*PPO and indemnity plans typically charge yearly or per-visit deductibles that have to be met before the plan pays anything. In this comparison, the PPO plan charged $0 for preventive care and $5 per visit for basic and major care, in-network. For out-of-network, this same PPO charges $0 for preventive and $50 for basic and major care. The indemnity plan deductible was $50 for all levels of care. For the purposes of this comparison, all applicable deductibles have been factored into the prices shown. 

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