How to Maximize Your Dental Insurance Benefits

Dental insurance is an invaluable tool for maintaining your oral health and managing the costs associated with dental care. However, many people are not fully aware of how to take advantage of all the benefits their dental insurance offers. Whether you’re new to dental insurance or have been a policyholder for years, here are some practical tips on how to maximize your dental insurance benefits.

Understand Your Coverage

1. Know What’s Covered

  • Overview: Dental insurance plans typically cover preventive care (like cleanings and exams), basic procedures (like fillings), and major procedures (like crowns and root canals). However, the extent of coverage for each category can vary.
  • Action: Read your policy thoroughly or contact your insurance provider to get a detailed understanding of what is covered. Pay particular attention to exclusions and limitations.

2. Be Aware of Waiting Periods

  • Overview: Some dental insurance plans have waiting periods for certain procedures, especially major ones. This means you may need to wait a few months before you can use your benefits for these services.
  • Action: Plan your treatments accordingly. If you anticipate needing major dental work, factor in these waiting periods when scheduling your appointments.

Utilize Preventive Care

3. Schedule Regular Check-Ups

  • Overview: Most dental insurance plans cover preventive care at 100%, which includes regular check-ups and cleanings.
  • Action: Take advantage of this by scheduling bi-annual check-ups. Regular visits can help catch issues early, preventing more costly treatments down the line.

4. Use Fluoride Treatments and Sealants

  • Overview: Preventive treatments like fluoride applications and dental sealants can help protect your teeth from decay.
  • Action: Ask your dentist if these treatments are covered by your insurance and appropriate for you or your children.

Plan Major Treatments Wisely

5. Spread Out Major Procedures

  • Overview: Dental insurance often has an annual maximum benefit limit, which is the maximum amount your insurance will pay in a year.
  • Action: If you need extensive dental work, discuss with your dentist how to spread out the treatments over two or more calendar years to maximize your benefits without exceeding your annual limit.

6. Prioritize Urgent Care

  • Overview: Some dental issues can worsen if left untreated, leading to more complex and costly procedures.
  • Action: Use your benefits to address urgent care needs promptly. Prioritize treatments that can prevent further dental problems.

Stay In-Network

7. Choose In-Network Dentists

  • Overview: Dental insurance plans have a network of approved providers who agree to offer services at lower rates.
  • Action: To minimize out-of-pocket costs, always try to use in-network dentists. Check with your insurance provider for a list of approved dentists in your area.

8. Verify Coverage Before Appointments

  • Overview: Coverage details can change, and not all procedures may be covered even if performed by an in-network dentist.
  • Action: Before undergoing any treatment, verify with your dentist and insurance provider that the procedure is covered.

Take Advantage of Additional Benefits

9. Look for Discounts and Programs

  • Overview: Some dental insurance plans offer discounts on procedures not fully covered or have partnerships with providers for additional services.
  • Action: Ask your insurance provider about any additional programs or discounts you can take advantage of, such as discounts on orthodontics or cosmetic dentistry.

10. Utilize Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

  • Overview: FSAs and HSAs allow you to use pre-tax dollars for medical and dental expenses, which can help reduce your overall costs.
  • Action: If you have access to these accounts, plan to use them for any out-of-pocket dental expenses. Ensure you understand the contribution limits and eligible expenses.

Keep Records and Communicate

11. Maintain Detailed Records

  • Overview: Keeping track of your dental visits, treatments, and expenses can help you better manage your benefits.
  • Action: Maintain a file with all your dental care receipts, explanation of benefits (EOB) statements, and correspondence with your insurance provider.

12. Communicate with Your Dentist and Insurance Provider

  • Overview: Open communication can help ensure you fully understand your benefits and avoid any surprises.
  • Action: Don’t hesitate to ask questions or request clarifications from your dentist and insurance provider regarding your coverage and any potential costs.


Q1: How often should I use my dental insurance for preventive care?

  • A: Most dental insurance plans cover two preventive visits per year. It’s recommended to use both visits to maintain optimal oral health and catch any issues early.

Q2: What should I do if my claim is denied?

  • A: If your dental insurance claim is denied, first contact your insurance provider to understand the reason for the denial. You can appeal the decision by providing additional documentation or a letter from your dentist explaining the necessity of the procedure.

Q3: Can I use my dental insurance for cosmetic procedures?

  • A: Most dental insurance plans do not cover cosmetic procedures such as teeth whitening or veneers. However, some plans offer discounts on these services through specific providers.

Q4: How do I find an in-network dentist?

  • A: Your insurance provider’s website typically has a directory of in-network dentists. You can also call your provider for assistance or ask your current dentist if they accept your insurance.

Q5: What is the difference between a deductible and a copay?

  • A: A deductible is the amount you pay out-of-pocket before your insurance starts covering expenses. A copay is a fixed amount you pay for specific services, often at the time of the visit.

Q6: Are orthodontic treatments covered by dental insurance?

  • A: Coverage for orthodontic treatments varies by plan. Some plans include orthodontic benefits, while others do not. Check your policy or contact your provider to confirm coverage.

Q7: How can I maximize my benefits if my plan has a low annual maximum?

  • A: If your plan has a low annual maximum, prioritize preventive care and essential treatments. Consider spreading out major procedures over multiple years and use FSAs or HSAs to cover additional costs.

Q8: Can I change my dental insurance plan if I’m not satisfied?

  • A: You can change your dental insurance plan during the open enrollment period or if you have a qualifying life event, such as changing jobs or losing coverage.

Q9: How can I estimate the cost of a procedure before getting it done?

  • A: Ask your dentist for a treatment plan with cost estimates and submit it to your insurance provider for a pre-treatment estimate. This will give you an idea of what your out-of-pocket expenses will be.

Q10: What should I do if I’m moving to a new area?

  • A: Notify your insurance provider of your move to update your records and find in-network dentists in your new area. You may also want to review your plan’s coverage in the new location to ensure it still meets your needs.


Maximizing your dental insurance benefits requires a proactive approach and a good understanding of your policy. By staying informed, planning your treatments wisely, and taking full advantage of preventive care and additional benefits, you can ensure that you get the most value from your dental insurance. Regular communication with your dentist and insurance provider can also help you navigate any complexities and avoid unexpected expenses. With these strategies, you can maintain excellent oral health while keeping your dental care costs manageable.