Need to get your child to the dentist for a toothache that just won’t quit? You might not have dental insurance through your employer — and it may be more affordable to purchase a children’s dental plan.
It’s important to find a plan that works best for you and your family. This guide walks you through the types of coverage available and the cost of dental insurance for children. Here are Benzinga’s recommendations for the best dental insurance companies for your kids.
Best Dental Insurance for Kids:
- Humana: Best for Increased Coverage Over Time
- Guardian Dental: Most Affordable
- Delta Dental: Best for Child-only Coverage
- MetLife: Best for Family Coverage
- UnitedHealthcare: Best for Plan Options
Dental Insurance for Kids: An Overview
Just like adults, children need to follow a regular routine of brushing, flossing and caring for their teeth and gums. Sometimes even regular brushing isn’t enough to keep teeth clean and free of food debris.
Leftover food particles can lead to bacteria growth, which increases your child’s chance of tooth decay or cavities. Cavities are damaged areas on the surface of the tooth. If these damaged areas are left untreated, cavities can form into holes in the tooth. About 20% of children ages 5 to 11 have 1 or more untreated, decayed teeth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dental insurance plans help cover the cost of expensive dental treatments. Some dental insurance companies offer dental plans specifically for children. Many plans provide regular cleaning services and dental checkups at no extra charge.
The Affordable Care Act made children’s dental services essential coverage for children under 18. This means any health insurance plan that covers children must also offer dental benefits. Dental coverage for children can be a part of the health insurance plan or can also be a standalone plan.
Types of Coverage Offered
Dental coverage for children varies greatly from plan to plan. Your state and your insurance provider also play a large role in coverage options.
Most dental plans for children include 100% coverage for:
- Regular checkups once or twice a year
- A limited number of teeth cleaning services per year
- Preventive care to help reduce your child’s chance of developing tooth decay
Plans that provide 100% coverage for these services mean you won’t pay out of pocket for the covered service. For example, your child’s dental plan may state that they are covered for up to 2 dental cleanings per year. Your child can have his or her teeth cleaned at the dentist 2 times a year at no cost to you.
Other coverage for children’s dental insurance plans often include:
- Fluoride treatments to help delay the development of tooth decay
- Tooth fillings to treat cavities that form
- Orthodontics, such as braces, to help straighten your child’s teeth
There are many options when you look for a children’s dental plan. Some companies don’t offer child-specific plans but provide coverage for pediatric dentistry within a family dental plan. It’s important that you read your policy carefully to see what children’s dental procedures are covered.
Average Cost of Dental Insurance for Kids
Cost is likely a major factor for you when you purchase dental insurance for your children. The average cost of dental insurance for an individual adult is $350 per year. Children’s dental plans are generally less expensive on average.
You can also get dental coverage for you and your children through a family dental plan. A family plan could cost between $850–$1,000 per year for a family of 4. Like individual plans, the cost will vary greatly depending on the amount of coverage you choose.
You’ll need to get quotes from several companies to find the most affordable dental insurance for your child. It’s important to remember that only some insurance companies offer dental plans specifically for children. It’s much more common for providers to cover children’s dentistry as part of a family plan.
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How to Get Covered Quick
Most dental insurance plans require you to undergo a waiting period before you can begin using the service and before you’re eligible for full insurance benefits.
Different plans offer different waiting periods. For example, you may be able to purchase a dental insurance plan for your child with no waiting period. This means you can go to the dentist right away once the policy is in place.
On the other hand, a waiting period of up to 6 months is common. In this case, you must wait 6 months from the time you took out the policy for your child. You can take your child to the dentist and receive insurance benefits once the 6-month waiting period is up.
A more expensive plan has a shorter waiting period than a less expensive plan, but some dental insurance companies waive the waiting period for preventive services and teeth cleaning.
More Expensive Plan vs. Out of Pocket Dental Expenses
Consider a more expensive plan with no waiting period if your child needs to get dental treatment quickly. Look at the services your child needs and the cost of the treatments. Compare the out-of-pocket costs of treatment with potential dental insurance plans.
Treatments that cost more than the annual premium of an insurance plan for your child may make a more expensive plan worth it. For example, your child may need a procedure that costs $500. You find a children’s dental plan for $350 per year, with no waiting period, that would cover up to $450 of the service. Your out-of-pocket cost would be $350 for the plan and $50 for the service, or $400. This is less than the full cost of treatment.
What to Look for in a Company
Dental insurance for your children requires you to thoroughly research plan options from a number of providers. You need to carefully consider several factors as you look at providers. Ask yourself these questions to find the right insurance company for your child:
- What is the monthly or annual premium for coverage?
- How much of each treatment do I have to cover out of pocket?
- Are there annual limits on benefits, such as up to $1,000 of services per year?
- Is this plan available in my state or local area?
- Is the insurance company financially stable enough to pay any claims I might have?
- Does the company provide child-specific dental plans?
- Is there a plan that covers the treatments my child may need?
It can be easy to only look at the monthly or yearly cost of a plan but you should also consider the other costs associated with the plan. Many dental insurance plans have a deductible. A deductible is an amount you are required to pay out of pocket before insurance benefits start.
For example, a dental plan may have a $50 deductible per person. You would be responsible for the first $50 of any treatments your child needs.
Along with the cost of the plan, you’ll want to feel confident with the company that issues the plan. Be sure to research multiple providers and consider:
- Length of time the company’s been in business
- The mission and values of the company
- 3rd-party reviews from actual customers
- Customer service
- Accessibility of online accounts, smartphone apps and 24/7 customer lines
The Best Dental Insurance for Kids
Many dental insurance providers don’t offer plans specifically designed for children. However, some individual plans give your child coverage benefits as a dependent. Family dental insurance plans are also an option to cover both you and your child.
1. Humana: Best for Increased Coverage Over Time
Humana dental plans increase your coverage over time. Both the coverage limit and percentage paid by the plan increase each year up to a certain limit.
A Humana plan could be a great option to enroll your children when they are young. As they age and need more dental services, your insurance plan will have higher limits.
2. Guardian Dental: Most Affordable
The dental plans from Guardian help you protect your child’s teeth with affordable plan options. Guardian also has one of the largest networks of dentists across the country. Access to an in-network dentist could save you a lot of money, depending on your provider.
You’ll likely save on the cost to visit an in-network provider with so many dentists available.
3. Delta Dental: Best for Child-Only Coverage
Delta Dental has developed plans to meet almost any insurance need — it’s one of the largest dental insurance providers in the country. Delta Dental is one of the few providers that offers child-only dental plans.
You’ll need to check with Delta to determine if a child-only plan is available in your state. You could potentially save hundreds on the cost of a dental plan in states where child-only coverage exists. Child-only plans tend to cost less than family plans or individual dental plans.
4. MetLife: Best for Family Coverage
MetLife family plans are more affordable than other options. The real savings, however, comes from a low family deductible. The deductible for a family dental plan from MetLife is only $150 a year.
That means you’ll be required to pay up to $150 for dental services for each of your family members. Once the deductible is met, your out-of-pocket costs will be much lower.
5. UnitedHealthcare: Best for Plan Options
UnitedHealthcare also offers a range of dental plans and it’s known mostly for health insurance. One option for dental coverage through UnitedHealthcare is to choose a children’s health insurance plan with dental coverage.
Children’s health plans must offer dental coverage, so this could be a good way to get a child-only dental plan.
Find Dental Insurance for Your Child
Protecting your child’s teeth with a dental insurance plan is a great option to reduce the cost of dental services. Get the coverage you need at a price that fits your budget — research quotes from top dental insurance providers.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) Q: How does dental insurance work?
A dental insurance plan charges a premium in exchange for covered benefits. Unlike health insurance plans, dental insurance plans usually have a cap on benefits, which means your plan may stop providing coverage once you reach the annual cap, often between 1k and 3K. Like other types of healthcare insurance, dental insurance focuses coverage on essential services, like cleanings, fillings, etc. Many plans don’t cover braces or elective cosmetic procedures. Get the cheapest premium here.
2) Q: Is dental coverage part of health insurance?
Some health insurance plans bundle dental coverage as well but, in many cases, dental insurance is a separate plan. Healthcare plans that are ACA-compliant are required to offer dental coverage to children but there is no requirement that adults have dental insurance coverage. Choosing a separate dental insurance plan can be a cost-saving step and helps make dental health costs more predictable. Check out our best providers for the cheapest rate.
3) Q: What kinds of dental insurance are available?
Your choices for dental insurance plans are similar to health insurance choices. You can choose from a dental HMO, which helps to keep premium costs low by keeping services within controlled network. Dental PPOs give more freedom to choose your dentist and care but cost more than HMO plans. A third option is called a dental indemnity plan, which pays a fixed amount or percentage for covered services. Compare quotes from our top providers for the best price.