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Dental Insurance Plans & Dental Savings Plans Compared

Dental Insurance & Discount Dental Plan Comparison Guide

Dental insurance isn't the only option when it comes to affordable dental care. Dental insurance companies win when you don't use the plan. They have to make more money than they pay out.

Dental savings plans are an alternative dental insurance option to consider. With a 1Dental Dental Savings Plan, our dentists have agreed to lower rates for members. You pay a small fee to join and save big at every dental visit.

We want you to use your plan as often as you need, so you won't find any limits, waiting periods or exclusions with our plans! Here's how dental insurance plans and dental savings plans compare.

Dental Plan Comparison Guide

Below is a dental plans comparison of discount dental plans (also known as dental savings plans) vs. dental insurance:

Discount Dental Plan Dental Insurance
Often marketed on an individual basis Typically marketed through employers
As little as $99 per year for 1 person Typically $30 – 60 per month for 1 person
Can use as needed throughout the year with no yearly limits Typically has a yearly limit of $1,000 - $1,500, which means once your dental treatment costs reach this, everything else is out of pocket
Can be used right away for any dental services Typically required to wait 6-12 months for any minor or major dental work
Dental savings begins right away Typically has a deductible that must be paid before dental savings begins

Dental Plan Membership Costs

Dental Insurance

Some dental insurance plans require an enrollment fee upfront to being the policy, as well as a monthly premium. Premiums can vary based on:

  • How liable you are to need dental care and
  • How much coverage you want.

Your premium may be higher if you have a pre-existing dental condition that requires dental work upfront, or if you have a previous oral health history of needing a lot of dental work. This also determines what percentage of your treatment the policy will cover.

Discount Dental Plans

Discount plans do not collect premiums. Instead, members are charged a steady monthly or yearly rate regardless of pre-existing conditions. Discount plans can charge such low monthly rates because they are not responsible for reimbursing the patient or the dentist. They simply provide members with access to significant discounts at the dentist office, lowering the patient’s out-of-pocket costs from the start.

Is There a Waiting Period with My Dental Plan?

Dental Insurance

Most dental insurance plans require you to wait six months to a year before receiving benefits, though sometimes this is reduced for preventive or diagnostic work. If there was no waiting period, policyholders could sign up for insurance, receive treatment immediately, get financially reimbursed and then cancel shortly thereafter at little expense to themselves. They typically require you to wait until you have paid enough money in premiums to cover any damage that might occur, and this comes in the form of a waiting period.

Discount Plans

Most dental savings plans allow members to begin using dental discounts within a few days, because you pay the dentist directly, and not the plan provider. Patients can take advantage of the discount on their own without pulling money from the discount plan company.

How Do I Pay for Dental Work with Dental Insurance vs. a Dental Savings Plan

Dental Insurance

Most individual dental insurance requires you pay at least a portion of your treatment cost directly to the dentist at the time of service. Insurance does not reimburse this co-pay – it is fully out-of-pocket. Reimbursement for further costs usually happens one of two ways:

  • The patient pays the dentist in full at the office, then submits a claims form to the dental insurance company. Insurance reimburses the patient for the percentage it has agreed to cover.
  • The patient only pays the co-payment in the dentist office. The dentist then submits the claim to the insurance company for the remainder of the cost.

Discount Dental Plans

With these savings plans, the patient receiving treatment pays a significantly discounted price directly to the dentist at the time of service. It requires no middle-man or lengthy paperwork hassle. Dentists in the network use

  • a specified fee schedule or
  • a prearranged discount percentage

Since they are contracted into those prices, they cannot arbitrarily decide whether to offer the discount to members. Any questions or concerns regarding pricing for members should be directed to customercare@1dental.com so we can help ensure discounts are being honored at all times.

What Does My Dental Plan Cover?

Dental Insurance

The term “full-coverage” dental insurance isn’t fully accurate, because it still doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be reimbursed for every procedure.

  • Most insurance companies don’t cover treatment for pre-existing conditions, because it is too costly for them.
  • Almost all dental policies include a missing tooth clause, which means that the dental insurance plan is not responsible for the cost of replacing a tooth that was missing prior to signing the agreement.
  • Policies rarely include coverage for cosmetic work like veneers or tooth implants, even if a cosmetic procedure becomes necessary for maintaining or restoring the patient’s health.
  • Another typical restriction is the replacement clause, which states that a dental insurance plan will not pay to replace dentures or bridges until an allotted time limit has passed.

Discount Dental Plans

Members of discount plans have found that they can receive  discounts on a wide range of treatment, including most cosmetic procedures. Some plans discount nearly everything except lab fees. The simple process has few restrictions.

  • There is no missing tooth clause.
  • Members are not screened for pre-existing conditions.

The discount can be applied at any time regardless of the patient’s oral health status.

Dental is party of the broken healthcare system and can just be plain expensive and confusing. We provide a simple, affordable way to save at dentists all over the country, without the "gotchas" and high costs of dental insurance. It's the fastest, smartest way to take back control of your dental AND financial health.

Find a Dental Plan Near You!


Usual, Customary and Reasonable

Dental Insurance

Insurance companies typically reimburse you for costs they have deemed usual, customary and reasonable (UCR). If the insurance company has decided that a UCR teeth cleaning costs $65 and your dentist charges $80, they will calculate their percentage of reimbursement based on the price they have determined rather than on the price you were actually charged.

Discount Dental Plans

Members typically pay a fixed, predetermined price for treatment with a discount plan (see our Care 500 plan list of discounts). In the case of specialist treatments such as orthodontics, often a fixed discount is applied to the provider’s fee, reducing the cost of treatment by up to 15% or more.

Yearly Limitations on Dental Plans

Dental Insurance

Policyholders typically must reach a deductible before the dental insurance plan will financially contribute anything. For the patient, this means:

  • You will receive no reimbursements until you have put a specified amount of money toward your dental treatment out-of-pocket.
  • Once you have spent that amount of money to reach your deductible, insurance will begin paying a certain percentage of your bill.

Most insurance companies set limitations on how much money they will put toward the cost of your treatment - your yearly maximum. Once your dental insurance provider has contributed a certain amount of money, you are responsible for all treatment costs for the rest of the year. This number usually resets annually.

Discount Dental Plans

Discount plans require no deductible. Members do not have to meet a price quota before they begin receiving discounts, nor do they have to wait for the plan to become effective. This can occur because patients pay the dentist directly at a discounted price without reimbursement.

Learn about Affordable Dental Plans


Members get the discount every time they visit the dentist with no limit regarding usage. Since it has no maximum, some people use this plan after their regular dental insurance plan has reached its yearly limit. Find out more about how you can use a discount dental plan and a dental insurance plan together.

Don't get stuck with a solution that doesn't work and keeps you stressed and frustrated. Try a Dental Savings Plan for confident svaings each time you see the dentist, and say hello to taking control of your health (a new dental experience).

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