Dental care is an important aspect of health. It can also be expensive, costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars depending on the treatment. Once you have children, these costs escalate. It is essential, therefore, to have dental insurance so that you and your family can afford regular checks and any treatment required. Following are some tips to make it easier for you to select dental insurance to suit your needs and budget.

1. If you are already established with a dentist, ask him or her to recommend a plan. Surgery staff is also a good reference point not only because they work in the industry but also because they should be interested in providing good customer service. As well as suggesting suitable plans, both your dentist and the staff should also be able to warn you against any dental insurance plans that do not have good reputations. If you do not have a regular dentist, check with friends and family about the plans they belong to.

2. Make the most of the Internet, where you will find many websites offering dental insurance quotes. As well as comparing prices, there are other things to check before making a final decision. You will need to ensure, for example, that you are happy with all aspects of a plan before selecting it. Your state insurance department can provide you with information about whether companies are licensed and whether there is a record of complaints against them. To avoid the risk of dealing with sham companies you should check out any insurers you are considering with the Better Business Bureau.

3. Before making a decision about dental insurance it is a good idea to assess the dental providers available through the plan. Once you have arranged your dental insurance, you need the reassurance of knowing that if you are not happy with the first dentist you visit, you will have the option of choosing from other qualified practitioners. When making your enquiries, ask if you can see the provider directories of the various insurers you are considering. If a company refuses, you would be well advised to cross it off your list.

4. When buying dental insurance, it is advisable to choose an insurer that allows you and your dentist to make the decisions about your treatment. Plans provided by some insurers require you to choose the least costly dental treatment. This puts the insurer, rather than you and your dentist, in control of your dental care. While such a plan may be less expensive than others, you need to be aware that it takes the decision-making out of your hands and deprives you of the right to make a choice about your dental care.

5. The way in which your dental appointments will be scheduled is another thing to investigate. When you have obtained details about the dentists who belong to the network you are considering joining, contact some of them to find out if you would be restricted to off-peak appointment scheduling. This is sometimes the case, with some dentists reserving the peak appointment times for cash patients. If you believe that such an arrangement could prove inconvenient you may want to look at plans that will not restrict your appointment times.

6. The level of dental insurance that is best for you will depend on factors such as your age and the present condition of your teeth. During your investigations you will find that dental procedures are classed as preventative, basic and major, with preventative and basic work covered by most dental insurance plans. Other companies will offer more extensive coverage but unless you think you will require it because of your age or the present condition of your teeth, there is probably no need to pay for it. The dental treatment you have received in the past should give you a guide as to the type of future treatment you will need.

7. For young people whose teeth and gums are healthy, dental insurance offering 100% preventative dental care coverage is often sufficient. This makes it possible to maintain dental health by having regular checks, cleanings, and X-rays twice a year. Such treatment helps to guard against the possibility of needing more serious and expensive treatment in the future, such as root canal work. Coverage for more serious dental work of this type would generally require co-payments of anything from 20% to 50% but with quality preventative care, such procedures may never be required. If you buy preventative insurance but are concerned about the possibility of a dental emergency in the future, this can be covered by a supplemental policy.

8. When comparing the various dental insurance plans available, make a point of checking the maximum coverage each of them allows. This should offer you coverage of at least $1,000 but you may decide you need more, especially if you anticipate needing major dental procedures in the future. The cost of such work can run into hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars, meaning one major procedure could use up all your dental insurance very quickly. If you anticipate needing such procedures you should consider buying dental insurance with higher coverage limits even if this increases the cost of your premiums, as it will protect you in the future.

9. Do a few calculations before making a final decision. For example, if a dental insurance plan that will cost you $1,000 a year has a maximum coverage of $1,000; it would not make economic sense to buy it. The annual total of the premiums you pay for dental insurance should not be greater than the maximum coverage provided by the plan and should also not exceed the amount you currently spend on dental treatment each year. When doing your calculations you should also include the cost of any co-payments you plan to make.

10. Group insurance can be your best option when you are considering dental insurance plans because it usually costs less than individual dental insurance plans. It may, for example, be discounted because of bulk membership, or the company for which you work may subsidize the cost for its employees. Even if your company does not provide such a benefit, or if you are self-employed, it is worth checking to find out whether you may be eligible for another type of group dental insurance plan, possibly through a fraternal or trade association.