Dental procedures can be expensive, and you may have wondered if you need dental insurance for yourself and your family. Likewise, if you already have dental insurance, you may wonder whether you really need it.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to those questions, but here are some things to consider as you make these important decisions for you and your family:
One of the first things to consider as you decide what’s right for you is your dental history, and your age is a key factor in your decision to purchase dental insurance. Until recent years, dentistry used to be primarily about addressing existing issues and restoring teeth rather than on maintenance and prevention, as it is today. If you grew up in a time (say, prior to the 1970s) when this was the case, you are more likely to have dental work that needs to be maintained, and may also be more likely to need additional restorative work. In addition, your teeth are naturally more vulnerable to damage as you age. Also, consider how you’ve cared for your teeth, what dental problems you’ve had, and any natural propensities like weak enamel.
Keeping your history in mind, you can also assess other risk factors. Even if you’ve taken excellent care of your teeth and have no history of dental problems, you may need to think about other things. Sports injuries are a common reason for dental work, especially in young people. Still, there’s no way to anticipate chipping a tooth on a stray piece of walnut shell.
Your Financial Situation
Unless your job offers fully funded dental insurance, you’ll probably need to think about cost. Most people are likely spend significantly less on dental care than the annual deductibles of many dental plans, and you may end up paying significantly more in insurance than in dental care. However, depending on your risk, you may need the protection in case of serious dental problems or injuries. If you’re looking for a compromise, you can also set aside a comparable amount in an emergency fund or health care savings account. For many people, this will be cheaper, but it is also less flexible in case of emergencies.
Ultimately, every family’s needs are different.
Plans vary in cost and coverage, so look for one that covers regular preventative care as well as serious problems (most do), and carefully read how the plan categorizes different services. Not all procedures, especially major ones, may be covered, so consider the plan with your history and risk factors in mind. Finally, check with your family dentist to make sure they (or we!) accept the plan before you commit.
Whatever you choose, don’t just rely on your insurance – preventative care is by far the most important factor in keeping your dental costs down!
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