Put a Big Smile on Your Face with a Dental Savings Plan

I opened my inbox and right near the top was a frantic letter from Lisa, who’s facing an emergency dental situation with a $15,000 price tag on it. She is desperate for options that will let her keep her teeth while not plunging her into debt.

Another letter from the Madison family related that their finances are so tight, they cannot afford the luxury of regular dental care — not even routine X-rays and cleaning. That letter ended, “Is there a dental plan for families in our situation? Please answer soon before our teeth fall out!”

While I am not a dentist, I know that dental care is not a luxury. It is essential to the good health of every family member. And the best way for Lisa and the Madison family to avoid big dental bills is to practice regular preventive care. Even then, routine hygiene and X-rays should be seen as absolutely mandatory.

As for Lisa, she’s in a tough situation. I’m not confident that dental insurance — if by some miracle she could get it now — would be that helpful. The problem is that typically you must wait six months to a year before certain procedures are covered. Her condition could be excluded completely as preexisting. Then there’s a maximum annual benefit of $1,000 to $1,500. And the annual premium on most individual dental plans? Half of the annual benefit. I’m not sure if any portion of her $15,000 dilemma would be considered cosmetic, but I hope not because most dental insurance does not cover cosmetic procedures.


I am excited because I have good news for Lisa and the Madison family, something I hope all of my readers will also consider seriously: dental savings plans. These plans are not insurance, do not work like insurance and do not carry the downside of most dental insurance.

Dental savings plans are membership plans. They’re easy to understand if you think about Costco or Sam’s Club or any other such club. You pay an annual fee, which gives you full privileges at that discount warehouse club for the year. You walk in and show your card to enjoy highly discounted prices on the things you need. That’s how a dental savings plan works. You sign up with a plan your dentist accepts (be sure to call your dentist’s office to verify they do accept the dental savings plan you are considering), pay your membership fee and then get your card. Then show it at every appointment and enjoy highly discounted dental services and procedures.

The cost of a dental savings plan varies, but basically, an individual pays around $120 per year, and families pay around $170 per year — yes, for the entire family. Then save 10%-60% at the dentist.

Most insurance companies are now offering these dental savings plans. There are many to choose from, and they are all listed in one place at If your dentist doesn’t participate, you could ask him or her to sign up, or find a dentist in your area that does (thousands do!). When you use a dentist in your plan, you get a discount of up to 60%, depending on the plan.


Dental savings plans have no annual maximums, do not exclude preexisting conditions, have no monthly premiums (membership fees are paid once each year) and have no waiting periods. No paperwork hassles, annual maximums or limits.

It was a happy surprise the day I discovered that my new dentist here in Colorado, Dr. Jay Talbot, is part of the dental plans network. Trust me on this: The savings are real, no gimmicks or hassles. On my latest routine visit for dental hygiene, my dental savings plan card cut my bill in half. I just couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

I know you have questions about dental savings plans. Trust me, I had them, too! Is this for real (that was No. 1 on my list of questions), is my dentist part of the Dental Savings Plans network, and so forth. You can find all the answers by going to the Dental Plans website or go to where I have compiled, boiled down and simplified all I know from research and personal experience. And have a limited time discount coupon code, too. I am confident that together we can figure out if a dental savings plan might be right for you and your family.

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Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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