Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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You can get dental work without health insurance, but it is more expensive and your options for financial assistance may be limited. If you don’t have dental insurance you should look into adding it to your health care plan.

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Dental work is important not just for a beautiful smile but for healthy teeth, gums, and other medical conditions. Yet dental work is not usually part of a health insurance plan unless it is added on as an additional policy. Some dentists offer cash discounts to patients who don’t have insurance. Financing your dental work is also an option.

The Importance of Dental Care

Basic dental care is essential for multiple reasons. Brushing your teeth and flossing twice daily can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

Seeing a dentist proactively for routine checkups and cleanings can also assist with preventing dental problems. Gum disease can almost always be prevented with proper care, reducing your risk of damaged gum tissue, structural bone damage, and eventually the loss of your teeth.

Your teeth aren’t the only reason dental care is important. Oral problems can increase problems with hardened arteries and heart disease, respiratory ailments, and strokes. It can also worsen a diabetic’s condition through an increased possibility of infection. Since dental care is so closely linked with diseases other than just cavities, it is important to make sure you brush and floss and visit your dentist for wellness checks.

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Buying Dental Insurance

Some health insurance plans cover dental work, but most dental insurance is purchased separately. There are different types of dental coverage that you can buy that addresses different levels of benefits.

Some dental insurance will cover exams and X-rays and other dental insurance will cover cleanings or cavity fillings. Most dental insurance will pay for at least a portion of any major dental work such as root canals and some will even cover partials and dentures. Surgical procedures are also covered by many dental plans, which can include the removal of wisdom teeth.

Orthodontics is a separate field and is not usually covered by dental insurance unless it is for a child. Sometimes braces are used to straighten a smile, but other times they are required to solve a medical need, such as an improper back bite. An improper back bite can lead to digestive problems so an adult may be able to use dental insurance to correct this medical issue. If your dental insurance does not include orthodontist work then you may be able to add on separate insurance for it.

One way to buy dental insurance is usually through a group plan such as from your employer. Some employers offer health insurance but they don’t offer dental insurance. If that is the case then you can buy it privately.

If your teeth are generally in good condition and you can afford routine visits to the dentist then you may only want to buy catastrophic dental insurance, which is dental insurance that would pay for any unexpected expenses such as surgery or other oral procedures. If you have a history of oral problems then it may be a good idea to consider buying a more substantial dental health insurance plan that offers more benefits.

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Negotiating Dental Care Costs

If you don’t have health insurance that covers dental work then you may need to try to negotiate with your dentist on the costs of different procedures. Dentists control the rates they charge and are not obligated to reduce your cost if you don’t have insurance. However, they understand the cost of dental work is high when you don’t have insurance and they may be willing to offer you a discount if you can pay with cash.

Some dentists may offer you a discount even if you aren’t paying with cash just because you don’t have insurance. Ask your dentist what your options are and you may be able to save some money off the total bill of your dental work.

There are times when your dentist won’t reduce his fees for you or the amount you owe is simply more than you can afford to pay. Most dental work should not be delayed so you may not have a choice but to consider financing your treatment. You may be able to charge your dental work to a credit card or arrange for a small term loan or some other financing opportunity. Whichever method you choose, try to pay off the balance as quickly as possible in order to reduce the amount of interest you are paying.

Getting dental work with no health insurance is not always easy. Procedures are expensive but the need for them may also be prevented by simply taking good care of your teeth and gums. Even if you don’t have dental insurance, visit your dentist at least annually as a preventive method and that cost can save you much more in the future. Consider buying dental insurance so you have it when you need it.

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