Health insurance is an obvious concern for most pregnant women and comes naturally when they need prenatal care and an obstetrician. however, few parents think about when to add a child to dental insurance.
Is it important to have dental insurance for children? Babies aren’t born with teeth, after all, and it will take about six months before they start showing up. But dental health is an essential part of a child’s overall well-being. And while there’s no hard and fast rule about when to add them to a dental insurance policy, it’s best to consider the question before they’re ready for their first visit to the dentist.
the importance of children’s oral care
Many parents think that since primary teeth (also called baby teeth) eventually fall out, they can put off thinking about dental care for their children, at least until they have their permanent teeth. But tooth decay can grow in primary teeth, just as it can in permanent teeth, and lead to cavities. cavities can be painful and can interfere with a child’s ability to chew and speak. and they are much more common in young children than many people realize. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in five children between the ages of 5 and 11 has at least one untreated cavity.
The best time to take a child for their first dental appointment is before their first birthday or within six months after their first tooth erupts, whichever comes first. the dentist will do much more than look for cavities. they also control the growth of the mouth and jaw, check the health of the gums and the alignment of the bite. all this can affect the development of the child as he learns to speak and chew solid foods.
In addition to regular dental visits that start with their first teeth, children can sometimes end up needing emergency dental care. As toddlers become mobile and explore the world, accidents can happen. chipping or pulling out a baby tooth is something that requires immediate attention. a break can allow bacteria to enter the root of the tooth and cause a cavity. Losing a tooth before it is ready to fall out could affect the growth of permanent teeth. both can lead to future dental problems if not fixed.
dental insurance versus out-of-pocket costs
Even if parents understand the importance of taking their young children to the dentist, they may still be wondering when to add them to their dental insurance or if it is necessary. the answer to both questions is different for everyone. Parents should consider the nature of their dental plan and the costs of insurance premiums compared to what a dentist will charge.
type of dental insurance plan
Sometimes parents can get dental insurance through their employer’s insurance plan. if they are not covered, or if dental care is not an available option, they can purchase coverage on their own. There are three basic ways to get children’s dental insurance.
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integrated plans include dental coverage along with all other health benefits at no additional cost.
combined plans offer different types of insurance (dental, vision) sold separately by the same company as add-ons to the basic health insurance policy. people can choose with options to add to their package.
stand-alone plans are purchased on their own, separate from a health plan. may be available through an independent medical or dental insurer.
These three types of plans can differ in premium price, deductibles, what services are covered, and even which dentists you can see.
compare costs and other factors
For most parents, the deciding factor in adding a child to dental insurance will be the cost of the premium compared to the child’s possible out-of-pocket costs. dental insurance premiums are usually reasonable, about $15 to $50 per month for an individual. family plans generally don’t cost twice that cost, no matter how many family members. if there is a family policy, it shouldn’t cost anything extra to add the new baby.
For young children who still have baby teeth, out-of-pocket costs may not be very high. a standard checkup, for example, might cost around $50 or $60. Assuming two dental visits a year, if premiums exceed $100 to $120 a year, it’s cheaper to just pay the dentist directly.
This is especially true when the child is still a baby. As they get more teeth, and then their permanent teeth, their dental costs can start to add up. the cost of checkups, fillings, dental sealants and braces, if needed, can quickly exceed what an insurance premium would cost. (assuming, of course, that the policy covers sealants or braces). ask the dental office for the estimated cost of various treatments to see how a typical year of expenses will compare to an insurance premium. a large difference in dollar amounts will make the decision whether or not to add your child to dental insurance an easy one.
Parents should also read the details of the policy carefully to learn which services are covered and which are not. it is possible to owe out-of-pocket expenses in addition to an expensive insurance premium.
It is important to check if the chosen dentist accepts your insurance plan. many parents of young children choose a pediatric dentist who specializes in treating young children. If that dentist isn’t part of your plan, you may need to opt out.
A baby’s age in relation to enrollment deadlines for a dental insurance policy can determine whether to add the child or wait a year. Let’s say a plan covers the period from January 1 to December 31. a baby born in the fall would not need coverage for the current year. they could even skip coverage for the following year if they have a birthday late in the year. even if they are ready for their first dental visit in November or December, the cost of the visit will likely be less than the insurance premiums for the entire year.
Once the child has passed their first birthday, the parents may want to review the problem. Since regular dental visits and potential problems are more common, dental insurance might make more sense.
choice of the baby’s dentist
If you need to find a dentist for your child, we have an online tool that makes it easy. Several factors must be taken into account to choose one that is right for your child.
The most important thing is that your child should feel comfortable, whether you choose a pediatric dentist or a family dentist with experience treating children. visits to the dentist can be a positive experience, without anxiety or fear.
Next, ask your dentist about costs and insurance. this will help you know when to add a child to your dental insurance or if it is more cost effective to pay out of pocket.
Starting kids early with dental visits is the smartest thing to do. Good oral health is important to a child’s overall well-being and self-esteem. insurance coverage is one way to help make this happen.