Get free help preparing your taxes from AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. Find a location


AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy
Bob Dylan Talks!


Military and Veterans Discount


You Could Choose Your Dream Vacation


Introducing RealPad by AARP


AARP Auto Buying Program


Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Download the ipad App



AARP Games - Play Now!

AARP Books

Medicare for Dummies book cover

Get the answers you need, from Patricia Barry, AARP's Ask Ms. Medicare

Most Popular


share your Thoughts

Reader stories help us fine-tune our education efforts and strengthen our calls for action on issues that matter most to you. We read and learn from every story and may use yours (with permission) to brief legislators, inspire other readers and more. Please share your story with us. Do

Discount Dental Plans Are Something to Smile About

They're an alternative to dental insurance

Reduced rates for members

But there's a third way, which people like Tabbi are turning to: discount dental plans. For monthly fees of $10 to $12, these plans give them access to discounted dental services.

"Discount dental plans work like a Costco membership," says Edan Barshan, president of Universal Dental Plan. In return for the monthly fee, you can choose among a network of dentists who will give 10 to 60 percent rate reductions for certain services. That $1,000 crown might only cost $600 for a member of a plan.

Unlike dental insurance, which may not cover preexisting conditions, you can shop for a discount dental plan knowing you need a root canal and select the plan that offers the cheapest price, says Buddy Johnson, chief executive officer of national discount dental provider "You could sign up today and go to the dentist tomorrow," he says.

When a plan makes sense, when it doesn't

If you have insurance and know you'll need extensive work done in a given year and it will fall below your policy's spending caps, a discount dental plan might not make sense, says Mark A. Cesarano, a health and welfare consultant with the Philadelphia-based employee benefits firm the Savitz Organization.

But "if you've been on top of taking care of your teeth and you just want to have some protection for if the worst case happens, then a discount card can be something that works for you," Cesarano says.

And if you've already hit your insurance plan's coverage ceiling for the current year and would have to put off a procedure until next year to get coverage, or if your budget simply cannot bear the cost of insurance, a discount plan might be your best option. "Discount plans can be a big help in managing a more limited budget," says Evelyn F. Ireland, executive director of the National Association of Dental Plans.

As with any important financial decision, do your homework first. Find out what providers in your area are on the plan and what procedures are covered. Make sure that costs and benefits add up to a net plus for your particular situation.

What discount plans offer >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Walgreens 1 discount membership aarp

Members get exclusive points offers from Walgreens, Duane Reade and

member benefit aarp hear usa

Members can save 20% on hearing aids with the AARP® Hearing Care Program provided by HearUSA.

AARP membership discount Man trying on eyeglasses at optometrists smiling

Members save up to 60% on eye exams and 30% on glasses at LensCrafters.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.