How to Use Two Dental Plans

Coverage under two different dental plans is known as dual coverage. If you're fortunate enough to have dental insurance coverage through two different carriers, you may combine the plans to minimize your out-of-pocket expenses. When plans contain a Coordination of Benefits provision, both carriers will communicate to determine benefits and payments. Although you can combine dental insurance plans, there are restrictions when using discount dental savings plans.

Discount Dental Plans

Discount plans are not dental insurance, but rather membership programs offering savings on dental procedures. You cannot use two dental discount plans in the same office at the same time. If you have dental insurance, you can also purchase a dental discount plan as a supplement. Some discount plans cap or limit the amount a participating dentist can charge for procedures. By spending less at each visit, you will maximize the insurance company's yearly benefit limit. Since policies vary among dentists, check with your dentist for information about combining coverage.

Primary and Secondary Coverage

When you visit your dentist, you'll need to designate one insurance plan as your primary and one as your secondary form of coverage. Select the plan that offers the greatest amount of coverage as your primary plan. If you have a plan in your name and you're also covered on your spouse's plan as a dependent, list the plan in your name as the primary coverage. If you have coverage through your two employers, list the plan you've carried for the longest period.


Dual dental coverage does not double your coverage or benefits. For instance, if each plan provides two cleanings per year, you aren't entitled to four cleanings. However, the second plan may reduce your out-of-pocket costs. Your primary plan will pay as if there is no secondary plan, and your secondary plan will act only as a supplement. Check your policy for a non-duplication clause. According to the American Dental Association, if the clause is present, the secondary carrier does not have to pay if the primary carrier paid the same or more than what the secondary carrier would have paid if it had been the primary.


To use two dental insurance plans, submit your dental claim to the primary carrier first. After you receive notice the claim is accepted and paid, you can submit the claim to your secondary insurance company along with the payment receipt from the primary carrier. Depending on your policy, the secondary insurance will pay all or part of the remaining balance. If the primary carrier has paid more than the secondary carrier's limit for the cost of the procedure, it may deny the claim.