Dental care isn’t included in your regular health insurance; it’s a separate form of coverage that some employers don’t provide to employees. So if you need to buy dental insurance, when is a good time? Can you buy dental insurance any time?

“Generally speaking, one can apply for an individual dental insurance plan at any time,” said Joel Ohman, certified financial planner.

Important dental insurance terms to know:

  • Deductibles: A deductible is the amount you pay before the insurer begins to pay for covered services.
  • Co-insurance: This term refers to the percentage of a dental service that you’re responsible for after you pay your deductible.
  • Co-pays: This is a fixed amount you pay for treatment.
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If you want to buy dental insurance, here’s what you need to know.

You Can Buy Dental Insurance Any Time

The short answer to “Can you buy dental insurance any time?” is yes. There isn’t an open enrollment period for individual dental insurance plans like there is for employer-sponsored health insurance. With health insurance, people are used to being eligible to apply for coverage during a specific time of the year or during a qualifying event such as starting a new job, Ohman said. “But with individual dental insurance there is no such requirement.”

You’ll need to have an insurance plan in place before you get any preventive care or treatments. So if you’re looking to buy dental insurance, there’s no need to wait for an enrollment period — now is the time to start looking for an insurance plan so you’ll be covered by the time you want to visit your dentist.

Give Yourself Time to Compare Options

Each dental insurance plan is different, depending on coverage criteria, levels and pricing. “When looking to buy dental insurance online it’s important to compare all available options,” Ohman said, so make sure you start researching dental insurance before you purchase it.

Your past dental history and your budget will influence the kind of individual dental insurance plan you purchase, as will the kinds of needs you anticipate in the future. There may be a waiting period before your coverage kicks in, so do your homework so you can buy dental insurance at any time.

Learn the Terms Used in Dental Insurance

Buying dental insurance can feel a little confusing because of all the different terminology. For example, it’s important to understand the difference between dental insurance and dental discount plans, Ohman said.

Dental insurance will be more expensive up front, but it usually includes discounts for in-network providers and fully insured coverage—anywhere from 40 to 100 percent of different services can be covered. Dental discount plans are less expensive but only offer discounts, not additional coverage. As with dental insurance, discounts only apply to services performed by dentists who participate in the discount network.

Here are some of the other dental insurance terms you may see:

  • Deductibles: A deductible is the amount you pay before the insurer begins to pay for covered services.
  • Co-insurance: This term refers to the percentage of a dental service that you’re responsible for after you pay your deductible.
  • Co-pays: This is a fixed amount you pay for treatment.

The size of deductibles, co-insurance and co-pays will depend on the kind of insurance plan you purchase. You’ll pay a monthly or annual premium for coverage as well. Online tools can help you find the best fit for you and your family no matter when you’re buying dental insurance.

LEARN MORE*:

What Your Affordable Dental Health Insurance Plan Should Include

How to Pick Individual Dental Insurance

How Can I Get Dental Insurance Coverage?

Mayo Clinic Dental Health Resources

*Hyperlinks to third-party websites are offered for informational purposes only. Starmount in no way controls, guarantees, endorses, sponsors or promotes these websites or their content.

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