There’s nothing quite as wonderful as your child’s smile. You know all the ways to make it appear – maybe it’s playing peek-a-boo, sharing silly jokes or telling your kiddo how proud you are of their accomplishments. Regular dental care for kids helps to make sure that all their happy smiles are healthy smiles – and can even help with their overall health.

Dental care is important to a child’s health. It helps them avoid cavities, toothaches and supports a confident smile. But when should you add your child to your insurance and what kind of coverage do they need? Read on to find the answers.

When to add your child to dental insurance

It’s a good idea to have dental insurance for your child (pediatric dental) by the time your child goes to the dentist for the first time – which is usually when your baby is about 1 years old.

Routine dental visits help to make sure your child’s teeth are coming in as expected and that they look healthy. These preventive visits are usually covered at 100% by most pediatric dental insurance plans.

Dental insurance may be even more valuable as your child gets older if you have dental plan coverage that helps with the cost of fillings for cavities and other dental services.

Some employer dental plans, like those provided by HealthPartners, offer added benefits for kids – and these benefits can add a lot of value! For example, our Little PartnersSM dental benefit offers enrollees 100% in-network dental coverage for kids 12 and younger (excluding orthodontics). This means no deductible, coinsurance or annual maximum, so you can prioritize your little one’s dental health early.

When do babies need dental insurance? Usually by their first birthday

It’s recommended that your baby sees a dentist by their first birthday or within six months of getting their first tooth (whichever comes earlier). Babies usually start teething when they’re about 6 months old – but a baby’s first tooth can show up earlier or later.

Your baby’s first dental visit will mostly be about getting them used to the dentist and teaching you how to care for baby’s teeth. Your baby’s second dental visit will likely be when they’re two years old. After that your child should start seeing a dentist every six months, like older children and adults.

Do you need dental insurance for a newborn?

You don’t need dental insurance for your newborn since it will be a while before they need to see a dentist – at least six months to a year. Still, it can be a good idea to look into dental insurance while your child is still a newborn, so you’re covered before baby’s first appointment. Before that time, you can help keep your newborn’s mouth healthy by cleaning their gums with a damp washcloth after feeding.

How do dental insurance needs change as your child gets older? They usually need more dental care

As kids get older, coverage for preventive care can be especially important in managing dental costs. Once your child is two years old, they should have a checkup and cleaning every six months. And when they turn 4 years old, they will begin to need additional preventive services like X-rays (first set is usually taken when they’re 4 to 6 years old) and sealants to protect against cavities (usually when they’re 7 to 9 years old).

There’s also a chance that you could save money on dental care if your child has coverage for basic dental treatments like fillings. While regular dental checkups and proper teeth brushing help prevent cavities, they still happen. About 25% of children between 2 and 5 years old have cavities in their baby teeth, and 17% of kids between 6 and 11 years old have them in permanent teeth, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

How to get dental insurance for a child

Dental coverage can be part of your health insurance plan, or a separate dental insurance plan. You can get dental coverage for your kid whether you buy health insurance for yourself or get it through an employer.

First check your plan for pediatric dental coverage

Some family health plans already include dental coverage for children. So a good first step is checking your current plan to see if you have coverage that you don’t know about.

To find this information, sign into your health plan’s online account and find a document called Summary of Benefits and Coverage. Then, check if pediatric dental services are covered. You can always call your insurance company to check your coverage. If you don’t have coverage for your child, ask how you can add it.

What pediatric dental insurance may cover

There are different levels of dental insurance plans designed to fit your budget and your child’s dental care needs. Plans may cover:

  • Exams and X-rays – These help make sure your kid’s teeth are healthy and help find problems like bite issues earlier. These are considered preventive care and often covered at 100%.
  • Fluoride treatments and sealants – These help to prevent cavities. These are considered preventive care and often covered at 100%.
  • Dental emergencies – Some plans may help with the cost of emergency care for toothaches and tooth accidents.
  • Fillings and crowns – These types of dental treatments are usually considered basic care. Coverage for these treatments isn’t included in all dental plans.

What if your child doesn’t have dental insurance? Seeing a dentist can still be affordable

Having dental coverage for your kids is great for peace of mind, knowing it’ll help pay for needed care. Dental insurance for your child generally pays for itself since your yearly premiums are less than the cost of the two dental checkups your child should get each year. Dental insurance is especially worth it when your child needs X-rays, sealants or fillings for cavities.

So, how much is a pediatric dental visit without insurance? It will vary by dentist, but it can be between $50 -$200 per visit for a routine exam and cleaning. But if you don’t have pediatric dental coverage, don’t shy away from the dentist. Many people find that regular dentist appointments for kids are affordable when they budget for them. Some dentist offices also offer discounts and payment plans for people without dental insurance.

Have more questions about dental insurance?

Our experts are ready to help you find a dental plan that fits your needs.