How to Get Around Dental Insurance Wait Times

How to Get Around Dental Insurance Wait Times


You need a crown. So, you take your insurance card to the dentist’s office, have your exam and a few x-rays taken, talk to your dentist about the types of crowns available, and then head over to the treatment coordinator to talk about scheduling. As you’re working through your care plan together, the treatment coordinator tells you that your insurance company has a “waiting period.”

What is a Waiting Period?

Insurance plan waiting periods refers to how much time must pass from when you sign up under the plan to when you actually start using the benefits. For restorative treatments like crowns and bridges, some insurance policies may have waiting periods up to six months or even an entire year! After that time has passed, you’re able to take advantage of the full coverage. Policies that include waiting periods are intended to protect the financial investment of the insurance company…not the patient. A person might simply sign up for coverage, invest in thousands of dollars on dental work, and then drop their plan.

You Can’t Afford to Wait

Putting your crown off for six months or longer is a recipe for disaster. A tooth that could have easily been salvaged by then might be one that’s split in two and needs to be extracted. At that point, you’re left with a missing tooth and need another treatment — such as a bridge or a dental implant — which will cost even more money. You’re probably asking yourself “what’s the point of even having dental insurance?!”

If you’re stuck in a policy with a long waiting period, the only options you have are to change coverage or to pay for treatment out of your own pocket. It may feel like you’re just throwing your own money away. You know your oral health shouldn’t be put off, but it can leave you feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Find Out What Treatments Have a Waiting Period

Your insurance plan won’t have a waiting period on everything. Ask your dentist if there’s another treatment option available. One may have a waiting period, while another does not. Or, the waiting period might be shorter for a less-expensive treatment than one that is more complex.

For example, if your dental insurance has a waiting period clause, you may only need to wait for three months to have a tooth filled, but two or three times that if you’re getting a crown. It’s best to treat the tooth sooner when the cavity is least invasive.

Fortunately, preventive treatments like exams, cleanings, sealants, etc. usually do not have any type of a waiting period. In fact, they’re typically covered at 100%, regardless of the type of insurance company that you’re going through. But once your oral health needs expand into restorative or major services, you need someone who understands the fine print. Otherwise, you won’t realize there’s a problem until it’s too late.

Enroll in a Dental Insurance Plan With No Waiting Periods

Not every dental insurance company requires their enrollees to endure waiting periods. Others may still have waiting periods that are shorter. The key is to talk to your carrier to see what other options are available. If your employer is the one managing the policies, let your HR department know if waiting periods are a problem. They can possibly switch policies or up the coverage.

Individual enrollees can talk to their insurance company directly. Let your carrier know that you need a dental policy with no waiting periods or at least one with a shorter timeframe. If you’re considering one policy over another, ask your dentist which one offers better coverage in their office. There’s a good chance that other patients have that very same policy, and your treatment coordinator can give you an idea of what to expect. There are also some insurance plans that waive the waiting period if you have had continuous coverage from another dental insurance plan for the previous year before joining the new plan.

Your other option is a Cigna dental savings plan, the affordable alternative to insurance. At we offer Cigna dental savings plans with no waiting periods! You can see a participating dentist in your area without having to wait months to a year before accessing the treatment that you need. Call us today to find out how we can help you find an affordable Cigna dental plan that fits your budget.

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