Cosmetic Dentistry + Dental Insurance

One of the “old-school” notions about cosmetic dentistryCosmetic Dentistry was that if you wanted to have a procedure done that improved the look of your smile, you needed to start saving your money, because dental insurance wouldn’t cover any of it. While that used to be true most of the time, today it is more common that your dental insurance may pick up at least part of the fees for certain cosmetic dentistry procedures.

Here are a few tips for better understanding which cosmetic dental options your dental insurance might cover.

Dental insurance and cosmetic dentistry

  1. Understand the basics of your plan. To research coverage for various procedures, you’ll want to know your deductible, your yearly coverage limit, your co-pay for office visits, as well as what class of treatment your desired procedure falls into.
  2. Find out if your cosmetic dentistry procedure will improve your oral health. This is key to the coverage conundrum. Insurance is far more likely to at least partially cover the procedure if it strengthens the structure of your teeth (for example, with a crown), improves your bite (braces), removes tooth decay or its after-effects (fillings, inlays/onlays), or replaces missing teeth, or at least attempts to replace their function (dental implants).
  3. Read the fine print. While most dental insurance plans are similar, there is some variation between companies, or even different plans offered by the same company. Some are very strict about not reimbursing for procedures traditionally seen as cosmetic, while others will cover up to 50 percent of the fees for some types of cosmetic dental work after one year of coverage. One procedure almost no carrier will cover is teeth whitening; beyond that, it pays to review your policy in detail to see if it might cover a desired treatment.

“Cosmetic dentistry can have a life-changing impact, but awareness of the level of dental insurance coverage is necessary to ensure your investment is affordable for you,” says Dr. Carol Ford, a cosmetic dentist practicing in central Phoenix.

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