Traditional dental insurance (aka an indemnity or fee-for-service plan). With this type of plan, you’ll have the widest choice of dentists, but you may end up paying more out of pocket, according to dental insurance provider Delta Dental. You’ll be responsible for an annual deductible plus co-insurance payments, which are a percentage of the cost of treatment. You may pay a lower rate of coinsurance for preventive treatment than you will for restorative dental insurance treatment (like crowns or bridges). There’s usually an annual limit on how much the plan will pay for treatment.
Dental preferred provider organization (PPO). With a dental insurance PPO, the insurer has a network of dentists who agree to accept a certain discounted fee for each type of dental insurance service, according to the American Dental Association. If you go to a dentist in the network, your co-insurance cost will be less than if you go to an out-of-network dentist. Dental insurance PPOs usually have yearly policy limits and may have deductibles you have to meet as well.
Dental HMO or prepaid plan. If you want to keep your out-of-pocket expenses to a minimum, a dental insurance HMO could be a good choice. You’ll be required to get your dental insurance care from a primary care dentist who you choose from the dental insurance HMO’s list of providers, according to Delta Dental. All your care will be managed by that dental provider, including referrals to specialists. You’ll usually need pre-authorization for visits to specialists, which is where having good dental insurance comes in. In a dental insurance HMO, your co-pay costs for preventive care are usually quite low. For other treatments, you’ll pay a certain fixed amount.
Most dental policies keep costs for preventive treatment lower because patients who receive regular preventive care are less likely to need more expensive restorative treatment later. Some plans do not cover pre-existing conditions, like missing teeth, according to the ADA. They also do not usually cover expenses like orthodontics (braces) and cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening or veneers.