Dental insurance is a comfusing subject for most patients, HMO, PPO and everything in between can be overwhelming and do they really cover all the necessary treatments your dentist requires. Most dental insurance plans come with a yearly maximum and a few stipulations that make it difficult to approve the dental treatments required by your dentist.
There are may individual plans that can be purchased and if you're fortunate, your employer offers a plan you can sign up for. The best person to help you make a dental insurance choice is your dentist. Once you have a good idea of what treatments you require, you will be able to choose the dental plan that helps you maximize the benefits available to you. Sure, this may mean you will have to pay for the first dental visit, but in the long run, the savings are realized quickly.
I have found that if you have larger necessary treatments such as crowns and bridges, you will quickly reach the annual allowed maximum and pay a lot out of pocket, if your teeth are healthy and you only require a few cleanings a year and basic treatments such as dental fillings, it might be worth your while to purchase a dental insurance plan.
It's important to also check and confirm that your dentist is a participating provider with the plan you're signing up for. A dentist makes a contract agreement with the insurance companies to accept their discounted fees, this means that even if your insurance will not pay for certain treatments, the dentist can only charge you the allowed fee based on the fee schedule of that particular insurance company.
These rules vary based on the State you are in. For example, the state of California states that if your insurance plan does not allow a certain procedure, even if the dentist is participating provider, he is allowed to charge you his usual and customary fees "UCR".
At this point, you might be more comfused than when you started, but I am hoping you have at least learned a few tricks of the trade and can ask the right questions when you're faced with this decision.