Updated: 1/9/2020 Dental insurance isn’t the only option to help you pay for dental work. Discount dental plans are a great alternative to insurance. They work differently, but discount plans…

How Do Discount Dental Plans Work? Can They Save Me Money?

FAQ Series: How Do Discount Dental Plans Work?

Updated: 1/9/2020

Dental insurance isn’t the only option to help you pay for dental work. Discount dental plans are a great alternative to insurance. They work differently, but discount plans can offer significant savings at the dentist every time you visit.

How Do Discount Dental Plans Work?

Here’s how a discount dental plan works:

  1. Purchase the plan and pay the annual membership fee
  2. Receive an ID card by email or in the mail
  3. Choose a dentist within that plan’s network of providers
  4. Call the dental office & set up an appointment
  5. Visit the dentist, give them your ID number and pay the discounted rate for treatment
  6. Make any follow-up appointments and repeat

There are no maximums on discount dental plans. Use the plan as often as you’d like and receive discounts every time you visit the dentist.

Steps to Using a Discount Dental Plan

1. Purchase the Plan and Pay the Annual Membership Fee

There are a few different discount dental plans you can find online to buy. Many of these plans offer an annual membership fee or a monthly fee, if you’d rather break up the payments that way. Our most popular dental plan at 1Dental is the Careington Care 500 plan. Read through the plan options and decide on the plan that best suits your family.

2. Receive an ID Card by Email or in the Mail

Every plan receives a unique ID number. You will use this number at the dentist to prove your membership. Think of it like a Costco or Sam’s Club card. You need a card (your ID) to get you through the door so you can receive the great prices the stores have to offer.

You can also access your member ID card by using our mobile app.

3. Choose a Dentist within that Plan’s Network of Providers

Discount dental plans have a list of providers available to you. Ask for your plan’s provider list to find a dentist you want to visit. At 1Dental, our list of providers can be found on our provider page. These dentists have agreed to provide the same quality care for specific discounted rates. You can see the most up-to-date discounted rates listed on 1Dental’s fee schedule for our Careington Care 500 plan.

Dentists on Provider pageTo help you find a dentist you like

  • Visit our provider page
  • Refine your search with your zip code and the type of dentist you need
  • Make a list of some dentists near you
  • Search each dentist’s name in Google (or Bing or Yahoo) and look for reviews of each dentist, as well as their website and social media pages so you can start to get to know the dentist before you decide to visit
  • Read about each one and narrow down your list
  • Call the dentist and make an appointment
  • Visit the dentist and see how you like them

It may sound like a lengthy process just to find a dentist, but it’s good practice no matter what dental plan you choose. The Web has a lot to offer. You can get to know the dentist a little bit before even meeting him/her, and it will help you choose a dentist who is right for you and your family.

If you already have a dentist you like, type in the zip code of their office on your plan’s provider search page and see if they are in the provider network. For 1Dental’s plan, you can also give us a call at 855-329-6305 so we can help you on your search.

4. Call the Dental Office and Set Up an Appointment

Once you’ve found a dentist you want to visit, call, email or book an appointment with them online.

You can find the dentist’s phone number on their website or on a provider search page.

Dentist Choice

Shine Bright Dentistry phone number

Some dentists also let you book your appointment online. For instance, on the dentist’s website I’ve given above and below, you can email them to book your appointment. Other dentists may have a form you can fill out.


Shine Bright Dentistry online appointment

Typically, you don’t have to wait long to get in to see the dentist. Availability will depend on the dentist you choose.

5. Visit the Dentist and Pay the Discounted Rate for Treatment

At your dental visit, give the dental receptionist your member ID number and tell her what discount plan you have (for 1Dental, members will often say they have the “Careington Care 500 discount plan”).

Here’s what you might expect to pay at your first-time dental visit using 1Dental’s Careington Care 500 discount plan:


For the most up-to-date treatment prices in your area, please visit the 1Dental fee schedule and enter your zip code.


No matter what the dentist usually charges for treatment, they have agreed to offer discount plan members a designated discount for treatment.

When using the Careington care 500 discount dental plan, you can expect to experience savings as follows:

  • For general dentists, expect to save anywhere from 15-60% (or possibly more like the example above) on treatment.
  • For specialists (orthodontists, prosthodontists, etc.) expect to receive 15-20% off their normal rates.

7. Make Any Follow-Up Appointments and Repeat

Unlike dental insurance, there are no limits to how many times you can use your plan and receive its benefits. 

How Do Discount Dental Plans Compare to Other Plans?

There are many benefits to discount dental plans. Here’s how they hold up against dental insurance and having no dental plan at all:

Plan Comparison wTotal Cost edit

The Total Cost for the Year was based off Sallie’s story, which we told in our blog post: How Discount Dental Plans Can Work with Your Dave Ramsey Budget. Sallie experienced going to the dentist without dental insurance, with a dental insurance plan and, finally, with a discount dental plan. The prices given were compiled based on how much she spent at the dentist throughout the year, plus the price of the plans she purchased. As you can see, the savings she received with her discount plan were significant.

What other questions do you have about discount dental plans? Please leave us a comment below.

If you have any questions about a plan you have with us, please contact our helpful customer care department at 855-329-6305. They are happy to assist you!


Natasha is 1Dental’s managing editor and copywriter, focusing content on dental and health news, advice and tips straight from the experts. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and has since been a book editor and now copywriter and managing editor on dental and health. You can find her on Twitter and all of 1Dental’s social networks.

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