Best Dental Insurance

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Contributor, Benzinga
January 5, 2024

Jump straight to it: The best way to get dental insurance is by using DentalInsurance.com.

Maintaining good oral health is as important as looking after your overall health. A good dental insurance plan can make it easier for you to receive high-quality dental care without incurring hefty expenses. With so many dental insurance plans available, choosing the right one can be a daunting task. Here, we'll guide you through the different types of dental insurance plans, help you assess your dental care needs, and provide tips for comparing plans so you can find the best one for you.

Quick Look: The Best Dental Insurance

The Best Dental Insurance

Here are Benzinga’s picks for the best dental insurance providers. Remember, each provider is quite different, and you owe it to yourself to look through each carrier and make a wise choice. Get quotes for your favorite plans and compare policies and pricing side-by-side.

1. Best Overall: Smart Health Dental

Smart Health Dental is a unique carrier that offers no-waiting period coverage for your dental needs. There’s a network of over 200,000 dentists and 2 insurance plans (plus a discount card). 

Basic coverage handles cleanings, but it doesn’t cover major procedures. If you step up to the more robust plan, you will have coverage for the more intensive care you may require. Or, if you don’t need much in the way of “coverage”, you can use the dental discount card to get a cleaning and pay less. Yes, you could use the card for an upfront discount on a range of dental services and products, but you should make sure you know what sort of discount you’re getting before visiting the provider. 

Need help managing your dental care? You can call Smart Health Dental to speak to a care coordinator who can help you book appointments or find affordable options when your policy doesn’t cover a service you need. 

Pros

  • The discount card is easy to use and allows you to save on a range of services AND products
  • The 2 plans you can choose from allow you to save money or opt for a little more protection
  • You can talk to a care coordinator if you need help with appointments or simply don’t know where to start

Cons

  • You may want more comprehensive coverage, which would come at an even higher price

2. Best for Saving Money on Dental Expenses: DentalInsurance.com

DentalInsurance.com makes finding the right dental coverage super easy. Enter some basic information, including your date of birth and ZIP code, to receive quick quotes for several plans in your area.

You can choose among top insurers like Delta Dental, Nationwide, Humana and Guardian Direct. Plan types include PPOs, indemnity plans and dental discount plans. 

DentalInsurance.com has excellent customer reviews and extensive educational resources about dental insurance and dental care. 

DentalInsurance.com is for comparison shopping because it is a marketplace rather than a provider. It can connect you with dental insurance carriers that best suit your needs and budget.

Pros

  • This aggregator makes it easy for you to find dental insurance in one place
  • The platform looks through a massive range of plan types, including platforms that are not just designed to sell dental insurance
  • There are a lot of educational resources that will help you understand what you’re looking for in dental insurance

Cons

  • This is not a provider, so you will need to research the provider you find, thus prolonging the process

3. Best Discount Plans: DentalPlans.com

DentalPlans.com specializes in dental discount plans. It offers over 30 discount plans, which you can buy online or by contacting customer service. Its customer service representatives are available late into the evening during the week and during the day on the weekends. Its dental discount plans are from reputable dental providers like Cigna, Delta Dental and Aetna. 

With DentalPlans.com, you just enter your ZIP code to get a quote on discount plans. You can sort your plan options by provider and by additional plan benefits. Some plans also offer vision, hearing, chiropractic and telemedicine benefits. If you prefer traditional dental plans, you can also shop for those through DentalPlans.com as well.

Prices from DentalPlans.com:

  • Through Patriot Plan: $124.95 per year (Your 6-month cleaning would be free.)
  • Through Careington Care 500 Series: $154.95 per year (Your 6-month cleaning would be approximately $17.)
  • Through Uni-Care: $139.95 per year (Your 6-month cleaning would be approximately $20.)
  • Through Avia: $139.95 per year (Your 6-month cleaning would be approximately $15.)

*Quote profile: Individual plan in the midwest.

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Pros

  • The platform actually offers more than just dental coverage
  • These discount plans can be used with a wide variety of providers

Cons

  • Quotes can vary widely based on your age, occupation/income, location, etc.

4. Best for Variety: eHealth 

eHealth may be best known for its wide range of health insurance plans. It’s also an excellent resource for shopping for dental plans. It offers more than 800 plans from over 270 companies, including Nationwide, Delta Dental and UnitedHealthOne. 

To find a dental plan, you enter basic information like your date of birth, gender and whether you use tobacco. You’re provided with a range of dental quotes from plans in your area. You can sort your results by company, monthly cost, deductible, plan type and annual maximum benefit. You can also select multiple plans to compare side by side. 

Once you’re ready to apply, you can complete your application right from the eHealth website. eHealth can also connect you with combined dental, vision and hearing plans. 

Sample quotes from eHealth Dental:

  • Through Ameritas: $26.50 per month
  • Through Nationwide: $44.22 per month
  • Through Guardian Direct: $22.03 per month
  • Through Humana: $25.35 per month
  • Through MetLife: $38.16 per month
  • Through Renaissance Dental: $34.43 per month

*Quote Profile: Single, 30-year old female.

Pros

  • The sheer range of available plans helps you search with confidence
  • There are options for combined plans that might also offer vision and hearing
  • The application process happens 100% on the website

Cons

  • Because there are so many plans to choose from, it can be a bit overwhelming

5. Best for Dental + Vision Plans: Spirit Dental & Vision

  • securely through Spirit Dental & Vision's website
    securely through Spirit Dental & Vision's website
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    Dental + Vision Plans
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Spirit Dental & Vision is a nationwide carrier that offers a range of PPO dental insurance plan. Pricing starts at $20 in most regions, and also includes:

  • No waiting periods
  • Inclusive plans
  • Several preventative appointments covered
  • Annual maximums up to $5,000
  • $100 lifetime deductible is only paid once
  • Some plans even cover orthodontic care
  • Option to add vision insurance starting at $7 in most states

You can reach out to spirit at any time to learn more about your coverage options, and you can get dental plans for yourself or your family with ease.

Pros

  • Preventative care is readily available
  • Because there are no waiting periods, this is a much more functional plan for someone who needs coverage right away

Cons

  • Mixing dental and vision plans may not work for some users

6. Best for Unique Coverage: MetLife Dental Insurance

MetLife offers a unique coverage options for its members. You can receive coverage for preventive and restorative care, orthodontics, cosmetic procedures, oral surgery and more. In addition, it has the following products:

  • PPO Plans
  • HMO Plans
  • MetLife TakeAlong
  • VADIP
  • FEDVIP

In addition to those plans, you may also want to consider MetLife because of its extensive provider network and the flexibility to see any dentist and cost savings, which is typically 30 to 45% less than the average person’s premium.

Pros

  • Low pricing can help you get into a dental plan that will save you money and help you get covered faster
  • The provider network is large enough that it’s much easier to get the care you need

Cons

  • You may need a little bit of support from MetLife as it might be difficult to understand the difference between all their dental plans

7. Best for Individuals and Companies: Guardian Dental

Guardian is 1 of the most affordable dental plans on the market — you could save an average of 35%. Preventive care and cleanings are completely free. There are plans for individuals, employees and groups, including PPO and HMO options. 

Guardian offers a large network so your current dentist is likely on the provider list. You can also pay your bills online to avoid claims forms. 

Check out our list of other affordable dental plan coverages for more options. 

Pros

  • Because there’s a large range of plans, you can easily choose dental coverage that makes sense for your situation
  • You can check their provider list before signing up, and they have several providers on that list
  • All online claims make it easier for you to manage your dental care and payments

Cons

  • Because the platform also offers group plans, you may find that your coverage is not as customized as it might be with a group plan

8. Best for Including Vision Benefits: Ameritas

Ameritas provides a range of dental plans that include vision benefits at no extra cost. Some plans offer a $100 yearly credit toward any vision service you need. Apply this credit to an annual eye exam or new glasses.

Ameritas dental plans also feature annual maximums that can partially carry over to the next year if you don’t use the full amount.

Pros

  • You can carry over some of your annual maximum if it’s not used
  • There are potential credits for your vision care needs
  • Vision benefits come at no additional cost

Cons

  • Not all plans offers the yearly credits

Understanding Dental Insurance Basics

Before we dive into the different types of dental insurance plans, let's first review some basic terms and concepts that will come in handy when choosing a plan.

When it comes to dental insurance, it's important to understand the different types of plans available and the terminology used. By doing so, you'll be better equipped to choose a plan that meets your needs and budget.

What is Dental Insurance?

Dental insurance is coverage for your pearly whites, gums and the preventative care that goes into keeping them healthy.

Unlike medical insurance, the top dental insurance companies generally have a narrow scope and easy-to-understand policies/coverage terms. You may purchase coverage alone or, at times, as part of your health insurance, whether purchased privately, through an insurance marketplace or through your employer benefit package.

Not all care is covered. For example, cosmetic dentistry and orthodontics aren't included in many policies. Your provider will typically give you straightforward guidelines to what type of procedures and care are under your policy's umbrella. And like most insurance coverage, you can expect to see deductibles and co-pays as part of your dental insurance policy.

Types of Dental Insurance Plans

There are typically three types of dental insurance plans:

  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) Plans: These plans allow you to visit any dentist you choose. However, visiting in-network providers typically means lower out-of-pocket costs for you.
  • Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) Plans: These plans require you to choose from a network of dentists. HMO plans typically have lower monthly premiums but may require referrals for certain services.
  • Indemnity Plans: These plans offer the most flexibility when it comes to choosing dentists. However, they may have higher out-of-pocket costs and may require you to pay upfront and seek reimbursement later.

It's important to carefully consider the pros and cons of each type of plan before making a decision. For example, if you have a preferred dentist that is not in a plan's network, an indemnity plan may be the best option for you.

Common Dental Insurance Terms

Here are some common terms you will encounter when selecting a dental insurance plan:

  • Premium: The amount you pay for your dental insurance plan each month.
  • Deductible: The amount you must pay out-of-pocket before your insurance begins to cover costs.
  • Copayment: The specified amount you must pay for a service, such as a cleaning or filling.
  • Coinsurance: The percentage of the total cost of a dental service that you are responsible for paying after your deductible has been met.
  • Annual Maximum: The maximum amount your plan will pay for dental services each year.
  • Waiting Period: The amount of time you must wait before certain services are covered by your plan.

It's important to understand these terms so you can make an informed decision about which plan is best for you. For example, if you anticipate needing a lot of dental work done in a year, you may want to choose a plan with a higher annual maximum.

In-network vs. Out-of-network Providers

Insurance plans typically have a network of dentists that have agreed to accept the plan's payment as full compensation for services. Visiting an in-network dentist can save you money on co-payments and coinsurance. If you choose to see an out-of-network provider, you may have to pay more out of pocket.

It's important to note that not all dentists participate in every plan's network. Before choosing a plan, make sure your preferred dentist is in the plan's network. If not, you may want to consider a different plan or be prepared to pay more out of pocket.

In conclusion, understanding the basics of dental insurance can help you make an informed decision about which plan is best for you. By carefully considering your needs and budget, you can select a plan that provides the coverage you need at a price you can afford. Remember to always read the fine print and ask questions before signing up for a plan. Your dental health is important, and having the right insurance can help ensure you receive the care you need to keep your smile healthy and bright.

Assessing Your Dental Care Needs

Now that we've covered the basics of dental insurance plans, let's take a look at how you can assess your own dental care needs to determine which plan is right for you.

Evaluating Your Oral Health History

Your oral health history is an important factor to consider when choosing a dental insurance plan. If you have a history of dental problems, such as cavities or gum disease, you may want to consider a plan with better coverage for major dental services such as root canals or crowns. Additionally, if you have a family history of dental issues, it may be wise to opt for a plan that covers preventative care such as regular cleanings and check-ups.

It's also important to consider any current dental issues you may have. If you're currently experiencing tooth pain or sensitivity, you may want to choose a plan that offers coverage for emergency dental services.

Considering Your Future Dental Care Needs

If you anticipate needing extensive dental work, such as orthodontic treatment or oral surgery, you may want to choose a plan with the right coverage and benefits to meet those needs. Orthodontic treatment can be costly, so it's important to choose a plan that covers a portion of the cost. Additionally, if you're planning on starting a family, you may want to choose a plan that covers pediatric dental care.

Factoring in Your Budget and Lifestyle

It's important to choose a dental insurance plan that fits your budget, but also consider your lifestyle. If you travel frequently, you may want a plan with a large network of dentists to ensure access to care while you're away. On the other hand, if you prefer to stick with a specific dentist, you may want to choose a plan that allows you to do so.

Another factor to consider is the cost of premiums and deductibles. While a plan with a lower premium may seem like the best choice, it's important to also consider the deductible and out-of-pocket costs. A plan with a higher premium may have a lower deductible and ultimately save you money in the long run.

Ultimately, assessing your dental care needs requires careful consideration of your current and future oral health, budget, and lifestyle. By taking the time to evaluate these factors, you can choose a dental insurance plan that meets your unique needs and provides the coverage you need to maintain a healthy smile.

How Much Does Dental Insurance Cost?

In short, it depends. Costs vary depending on the type of plan, whether it’s a single or family plan and the level of coverage. According to Guardian, the best dental insurance carriers have average monthly premiums of:

  • Around $20 for a dental HMO
  • Around $60 for a dental PPO
  • Around $80 for an indemnity plan

Dental HMOs tend to have the most limited networks, and you have to see an in-network provider for your care to be covered. Dental PPOs have more flexibility, and you can see an out-of-network dentist. You will pay less if you stay in-network, though. 

Indemnity plans let you see any dentist. You pay upfront and then seek reimbursement from your insurance company. 

There are also dental discount plans that will give you a discount on services, but there’s no “coverage” like you would normally get. At times, some people without insurance even pay cash because medical providers tend to offer a cheaper rate for those who pay cash on the spot.

Remember, however, that dental insurance costs change based on your location, the plan you’ve chosen and any contributions made by your employer. These averages are just that—average estimates—you want to check carefully with the carrier before purchasing insurance.

Comparing Dental Insurance Plans

Now that you've assessed your dental care needs, it's time to compare different dental insurance plans. Here are some factors to consider:

Coverage and Benefit Levels

Make sure the plan you choose covers the services you need. Plans with higher premiums or deductibles tend to offer better coverage for major dental services.

For example, if you know you need a root canal or crown, make sure the plan you choose covers those services. Some plans may only cover basic services like cleanings and fillings, while others may cover more extensive procedures like orthodontics or oral surgery.

It's important to also consider benefit levels. Some plans may cover a certain percentage of the cost of a procedure, while others may have a set dollar amount they will cover. Make sure you understand how much you will be responsible for paying out-of-pocket.

Deductibles, Copayments, and Coinsurance

Compare the amount you will pay out-of-pocket for various dental services. Plans with higher deductibles or coinsurance may have lower monthly premiums but may cost more in the long run.

For example, if you have a plan with a $500 deductible and need a procedure that costs $1,000, you will be responsible for paying the first $500 out-of-pocket. Copayments and coinsurance can also add up, so make sure you understand how much you will be responsible for paying for each service.

However, plans with lower deductibles and copayments may have higher monthly premiums. It's important to weigh the cost of the plan against the potential cost of dental services you may need.

Annual Maximums and Waiting Periods

Consider the annual maximums and waiting periods for various dental services. Plans with shorter waiting periods and higher annual maximums may be more expensive but can provide better coverage for major dental work.

For example, if you need a major procedure like a bridge or implant, you may need to wait a certain amount of time before the plan will cover it. Make sure you understand the waiting periods for each service you may need.

Annual maximums are also important to consider. This is the maximum amount the plan will pay for dental services in a year. If you anticipate needing a lot of dental work, it may be worth it to choose a plan with a higher annual maximum.

Additional Dental Insurance Features to Consider

Dental insurance is an important investment in your oral health. However, not all dental insurance plans are created equal. When choosing a plan, there are several additional features you may want to consider to ensure you are getting the most comprehensive coverage possible.

Orthodontic and Cosmetic Dentistry Coverage

While basic dental procedures such as cleanings, fillings, and extractions are typically covered by most dental insurance plans, more complex procedures such as orthodontic and cosmetic dentistry treatments may not be. If you anticipate needing braces, Invisalign, or other orthodontic treatment, or if you're interested in cosmetic procedures such as teeth whitening or veneers, look for a plan that offers this coverage. Keep in mind that these types of treatments can be costly, so having coverage can save you a significant amount of money in the long run.

Family and Dependent Coverage Options

If you have a family, you may want to consider a plan that offers family or dependent coverage options that fit your budget and dental care needs. Some plans may offer discounted rates for adding family members to your plan, while others may offer separate plans specifically designed for families. Make sure to review the details of each plan to determine which option is best for you and your loved ones.

Provider Network Size and Accessibility

Another important factor to consider when choosing a dental insurance plan is the size and accessibility of the provider network. Choose a plan with a provider network that includes dentists in your area and is easily accessible for you. Some plans may limit your choices when it comes to selecting a dentist, while others may allow you to choose from a wider pool of providers. Make sure to research the provider network of each plan you are considering to ensure you have access to the care you need.

By considering these additional features when choosing a dental insurance plan, you can ensure that you are getting the most comprehensive coverage possible. Take your time to research plans, compare benefits, and choose a plan that gives you peace of mind and the dental care you deserve.

How to Get Dental Insurance

To choose the best dental insurance provider, consider the premium (your monthly or annual payment) along with potential out-of-pocket costs and the plan’s annual maximum. If the premiums seem too high, consider a dental discount plan. The cost of discount plans tends to be lower and there’s no limit on how often you use the discount. 

Also, consider the plan’s network. If you don’t have a dentist, the network may not be an issue. If you have a dentist you prefer, make sure your dentist is in-network. If you’re not sure, contact your dentist’s office to find out which insurance plans are in-network. 

If you need specialized care, like orthodontics for you or a family member, confirm the plan covers that care. Some dental insurance organizations include orthodontic care, but many others do not. Look for a plan that has a premium that fits into your budget and benefits that make sense for you and your family. 

And, as always, be sure to compare quotes from multiple providers to find the best dental insurance. Use the chart below for an easy side-by-side look.

Is Dental Insurance Worth It?

Depending on your insurance needs -- and how much money you're willing to spend -- buying dental coverage should be a good choice. Remember, however, that cheap dental insurance does not achieve everyone’s goals. Shop around as much as you can.

Additionally, staying on top of your oral hygiene is highly important to keeping yourself healthy overall, and preventative and emergency care alike can be really expensive.

Use our guide to find good dental insurance. Compares quotes and reach out to one of our choices above to get started today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Insurance can be complicated. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about dental insurance. 

Q

What does dental insurance cover?

A

What does dental insurance cover? Dental plans typically preventative care, basic services, major services and possibly orthodontic care.

Q

Is there a dental plan that covers everything?

A

Is there a dental plan that covers everything? Dental insurance plans typically don’t cover everything. They will cover many services, but there are coverage limits, copayments, and generally dental insurance will not cover 100% of a service.

Q

Is a Dental PPO or HMO better?

A

Is a dental HMO or PPO better? The type of insurance that’s better for you depends on your priorities and how much you are willing to spend.

Q

Can you have 2 dental plans?

A

You can have 2 dental plans, for example: 1 from your employer and 1 from your spouse’s employer. You may also purchase supplemental dental coverage in addition to your standard dental coverage.

Q

Is there a waiting period for dental insurance?

A

Is there a waiting period for dental insurance? Generally, yes. Check with your insurer to learn when your coverage begins.

Dental Insurance Methodology

To determine the best dental insurance providers, we pored through all United States carriers. We winnowed the list by only including companies that have a wide coverage area and product offering. To further break down the list to the true best dental insurance providers, we gave weight to carriers that offer discounts, are available in all states and have multiple payment plan options.

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