As promised, our first post will try to highlight the difference between discount dental plans and traditional dental insurance plans in the most simplified terms possible. Our goal in doing this is to clear up some of the confusion that still exists between the two plan types.

What is a Discount Dental Plan

In short, a discount dental plan is a membership-based plan that provides discounted rates for most dental care procedures from participating providers. In other words, with a discount dental plan, you will pay a yearly fee to a dental plan provider in exchange for discounted services at a local dentist. Most plans are quite affordable, around $79-$99 for individuals, and $119-$149 for families. Savings can range anywhere from 10%-80% on most dental procedures depending on the plan.

Discount Dental Plan Characteristics

  • No annual limits
  • No health restrictions
  • No paperwork to fill out with each dentist visit
  • Plans typically included discounts for specialties such as: cosmetic dentistry, and orthodontics
  • Affordable
  • Available directly to individuals, families, and businesses
  • Plans activate within 1-3 days

What is Traditional Dental Insurance

Traditional dental insurance is essentially designed to pay a portion of the bills from dentists or other dental service providers – rather than paying in-full at the time the services are performed. With traditional dental insurance also comes co-pays with each dental visit, deductibles and annual maximums that restrict the yearly insurance company liability. These are the main differences between discount dental plans and traditional dental insurance.

Traditional Dental Insurance Characteristics

  • Co-pays, deductibles, annual maximums
  • Expensive monthly premiums
  • Potential for health restrictions
  • Long waiting periods for specialized procedures
  • Rarely covers specialized dental procedures
  • Often too expensive for individuals and families if not provided by employer

Final Thoughts

So, that’s the difference between discount dental plans and traditional dental insurance in a nutshell. This is by no means an in-depth discussion of the differences between the two – rather a simplified look at the characteristics of each. As you can see, both have their strengths and disadvantages. If you’re still unsure which option is best for you and/or your family, the following resources may be able to help:

1) Dental Plans
2) Dental Insurance

Next Up

Our next article will highlight your different discount dental plan options – individual, family, and/or business.

Cory Kemp is the founder and chief editor of He's committed to providing consumers with helpful tips for saving money at the dentist. Follow me on Google +