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Dental Insurance vs. Dental Discount Plan: How Are They Different?

August 23, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — washingtondent @ 4:50 pm
woman weighing pros and cons of dental insurance and dental discount plan

When you started your new job, you forgot about all the hassles that go with making this kind of change. You have to switch dental insurance, which is a huge inconvenience. While you may think that dental insurance is your only option, it isn’t! Many practices offer a discount plan as an alternative to insurance. But which one the best choice for you? Understanding how they work and the advantages and disadvantages of each option can help you make the right decision for you and your family.

How Dental Insurance Works

If you’re not familiar with how dental insurance works, it can be confusing at first, especially because not all plans are exactly the same. Essentially, you pay a monthly deductible and in exchange you get two checkups and cleanings at no additional cost. If you require minor restorative work, usually fillings, you need to pay around 20 percent of the overall cost, and major restorative services, like dentures or crowns, cost you about 50 percent of the total amount. Cosmetic procedures and dental implants are often not included in these benefits.

Pros and Cons of Dental Insurance


  • You have an network of dentists who have agreed to discounted pricing for certain services.
  • Many people get benefits through work, so they don’t notice the payments coming out of their paycheck automatically.


  • You need to find an in-network dentist, which can be limiting, for the most savings.
  • Benefits don’t start right away; often there’s a three-month waiting period.
  • Not every service is covered. You have to pay the entire cost of dental implant treatment on your own.
  • Insurance only covers a certain total every year. If you go beyond the annual maximum, it’s your responsibility to pay.

How Dental Discount Plans Work

Like many dental insurance policies, discount plans include preventive services at no additional cost. However, that’s basically the only similarity between these payment options! Compared to the many hoops you jump through for dental insurance, a discount plan is actually quite straightforward.

For a reasonable monthly fee, you receive the two checkups and cleanings and X-rays you need along with one emergency visit per year. Additional treatment usually comes with a discount, and adding family members may also result in further discounts.

Pros and Cons of Dental Discount Plans


  • You don’t have to worry about going over a certain limit because there is no annual maximum.
  • Your dentist can focus on the quality of care, not what your insurance will allow.
  • There is very little paperwork and no waiting period for benefits to take effect.
  • Discounts apply to services not covered by insurance, including cosmetic procedures and dental implants.


  • The benefits can only be used at one specific practice.
  • If you are out of town when a dental emergency happens, there is no network to help you find affordable dental offices.

Ultimately, weighing the strengths and weaknesses of both insurance and discount plans can help you identify the option that meets your needs the most!

About the Practice

At Washington Dental Associates, we proudly offer multiple ways to pay for dental care. Our four amazing dentists are in-network with most PPO insurance plans, but we also have a discount plan for those who do not have or wish to use insurance. Our Smiles Savings Plan is customizable according to your age and oral healthcare needs. If you have questions about either insurance or our Smiles Savings Plan, you can contact our Bergenfield office online or call us at 201-453-4863.

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