Elective cosmetic dental procedures are not covered by dental insurance policies. Professional whitening, for example, is a procedure people have done strictly to improve the brightness of their smiles. The several hundred dollars for that procedure will come entirely out of patient’s pockets. Try a much more cost-effective, at-home whitening kit first.

Partial Insurance Coverage

There are cases when cosmetic procedures are necessary for proper oral health. Braces are an example. Adults may want braces because their teeth are not perfectly straight, which will not be covered by insurance. Some adolescents need braces to correct a misaligned bite or overcrowding in the mouth. The procedure for them will improve the ability to chew and speak, make maintaining proper oral hygiene easier for their lifetimes, and prevent pain in the jaw and oral cavity. Due to the nature of the procedure, insurance companies may provide partial coverage.

Implants are another example. The procedure is used to replace missing teeth and create a better smile. This procedure also prevents bacteria from accumulating in the exposed gum, remaining teeth from shifting out of place, and helps in restoring a proper bite. Partial coverage may be available in some of these cases as well. Patients can read more here regarding necessary procedures that fall under the category of cosmetic dentistry.

How to Proceed

Check with the dental insurance carrier prior to having any procedures completed. Ask if partial coverage is possible and what documentation is required to process the request. The dentist may have to present a report outlining the necessity if the proposed procedure. The type of dentist used can be a factor in approval.

A general dentist or orthodontist report may be more successful than a report from a cosmetic dentist. Cosmetic dentists focus on procedures that are completed for aesthetic purposes. All other types of dentistry and procedures are focused on oral health. The perception of the review committee may be altered depending on which dentist provides the information


If insurance coverage does not apply, there are other ways to reduce costs or spread out payments. Payment plans and in-house financing are offered by many dentists, so ask about costs and options at the initial consultation. Third party lenders are available to approve financing for dental procedures. Dental plans are also available that can include cosmetic procedures for an annual membership fee. Plans offer discounts at the time of service from dentists in the network.