Why Is Dental Insurance So Bad In The US? (Explained!)

Dental Insurance

You aren’t the only one struggling to afford dental care because millions of American citizens avoid making a trip to the dentist. Some people say healthcare providers cause the steep cost of dental care, while others blame insurance companies. The truth is multiple factors contribute to the poor state of dental insurance in the US, and this article has tried to dissect a few of them.

Reasons Why Dental Insurance Is So Bad In The United States 

Why Dental Insurance Is So Bad In The United States 

High Costs

America has some of the most skilled professionals in the health sector; it is no surprise that their services will be costlier compared to what you will get will, junior professionals. 

Dental procedures are generally expensive whether conducted by a highly trained professional or not. Now imagine getting a bill worth thousands of dollars and discovering that your insurance company won’t take up the cost.

You may be surprised to find out that many people turn down recommended dental procedures and trips to the dentist due to cost concerns, including people who have dental coverage.

If you repeatedly experience such a situation, you may wonder why you have dental insurance at all and thus avoid getting dental care.

The sad thing about this is poor oral hygiene can lead to other health issues. Skipping preventive and routine dental visits reduces your chances of spotting potential health threats. 

Another issue is that most people don’t know how to differentiate between an issue that requires immediate attention and something that can be postponed or even ignored. Unfortunately, some dentists won’t tell you. 

They will bombard you with a list of issues relating to your teeth which truthfully may not be much of an issue. However, since you don’t know what needs to be done and what can be put off for later, you may end up spending more than you need to on your dental visits. 

Poor Coverage

A staggering 38% of baby boomers do not have dental insurance, and they say this is because their insurance does not cover it. Most citizens in this age group use Medicare as it is one of the oldest and most reputable insurance providers of their time. 

Medicare provides limited coverage where dental health is concerned. They may provide coverage for some emergency procedures during inpatient stays. However, most dental procedures like cleanings or extractions are not covered.

Low Income

Unfortunately, dental insurance does not fall under the Obamacare Act, but it is available under some health care plans or offered as a standalone policy. 

Most individuals who do not have dental coverage wish they did and even admitted they wished they took better care of their teeth. 

Three in ten Americans will regret not making better oral hygiene choices, which is common with low-income earners. In households that make less than $5000 a year pretax, ValuePenguin discovered that an average of 34% experience oral care-related sadness. 

This percentage is for people who do not have dental insurance. For the people who are fortunate to have some dental coverage but are still unhappy with their teeth, the percentage is lesser- 17%.

No need for Insurance 

Let’s look at the other side of the story; not everyone is unhappy with the state of their teeth. On the contrary, some people love their teeth, and it’s not just for cosmetic reasons but because their teeth are genuinely healthy. 

Because their teeth are healthy, they don’t have any reason to visit a dentist more than twice a year, talk less of signing up for dental insurance. These people would save more money paying out of pocket for their occasional dental visits than paying premiums on dental insurance. 

This brings us to the next point on why dental insurance in the US is awful- there are cheaper alternatives. 

Not anyone can perform a root canal; you need to visit a trained dental professional. However, not all your dental needs require the services of a dentist, and even they do, there are affordable places to get such services. 

A quick search on google can yield results for clinics that charge less than what you will spend on premiums for “free” routine and preventive care procedures.

The table below contains dental-related regrets of American citizens. 

Have no dental insurance14%
I wish they took better care of their teeth30%
Skip recommended procedures10%
Have limited coverage5%
Are happy with their oral hygiene status46%

Improving Dental Insurance in America

Improving Dental Insurance in America

Now that we have analyzed the problem, the next step is to proffer some solutions. Dental Insurance in the US might be bad, but can it be improved? The answer is yes, it can.

We think the first and most important step is to create to tackle the current state of dental coverage in Medicaid. Medicaid is a key player in the insurance industry, and its user population is over 24 million. 

This means that over 24 million people in the US population have no dental coverage. Those who do get it from other sources such as Medicaid or Medicare Advantage plans. 

To create a dental benefit program under Part B of Medicare’s insurance plans, efforts have been made. A second option is to offer dental services under a new voluntary part of the program. 


The US is in a dental health crisis, and it is negatively affecting its residents’ lives. Unfortunately, most people avoid dental routines due to costs, even when they have insurance.

It is even more saddening that a key player such as Medicare has no defined dental coverage plan for its users, leaving them to get this service from other sources. Fortunately, efforts are being made to provide dental coverage for their users.


9 Secrets Dental Insurance Companies don’t Want you to Know

Why Dental Insurance is so Unspeakably Awful

Luxury Vs. Necessity: The US Dental Care Dilemma

Reasons to Ditch Dental Insurance

Policy Options for Improving Dental Coverage for People on Medicare

ValuePenguin Dental Survey

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