Supplemental dental insurance covers expenses that your regular dental insurance doesn't. Even if you have group dental insurance through your job, your spouse, or your parents, you still may need to pay part or all of the cost for root canals, fillings or braces, or pay for routine care like cleaning or x-rays, depending on the deductible or the annual limits.
If you've got some dental work coming up, that's not good news.
Before you wind up with a surprise dental bill, check out your current coverage. Call up your dental insurance representative, go to the company's information online or read the boring paperwork that came with your policy and see what they actually cover.
If the deductible looks too high or the limits look too low and you need a way to pay less money for dental expenses, check out two different options: PPO supplemental dental insurance, or a discount dental plan.
Talk to your dentist, too. He or she may know about how much your insurance will cover and what supplemental insurance might fill the gaps.
PPO stands for Preferred Provider Organization. You'll also see them called DPPO, with the D standing for Dental. You can shop around for this kind of supplemental dental insurance online, through a local insurance agent or sometimes through work, school, or any group you're a member of that offers group insurance.
If you want to save the most money with a PPO, though, you'll need to visit a dentist on their "preferred" list. So the first thing to do, when comparing PPO plans, is to see what local dentists they include. See if your dentist is on the list or if you'd be happy switching to one that is.
If you're cool with that, see what they cover and how much it costs. Look for the cheapest insurance that will cover the gaps you need.
Discount Dental Plans
A discount dental plan isn't really insurance, but it still can save you money. Like a PPO, you need to use a dentist on their list, so see who's included in your area. You pay a monthly fee, and in exchange for the fee, dentists on the list charge you less. You can search on the National Association of Dental Plans website for dental insurance and discount plans by state.
If you need dental care but don't have enough dental insurance to be able to afford it, and are low income, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has a page here with several suggestions to find low-cost treatment.