Dental care is an important part of your overall health. And Americans with dental insurance are more likely to go to the dentist and experience greater overall health, according to a National Association of Dental Plans report.
It’s important to have dental insurance, but choosing the best plan can be complicated. Learn more about dental insurance options and find answers to frequently asked questions about dental coverage in our review of the best dental insurance.
Best Dental Insurance:
- Best for Comparison Shopping: DentalInsurance.com
- Most Affordable: Smart Health Dental
- Best for Discount Plans: Careington
- Most Coverage Area: eHealth
- Best Supplemental Plan: DentalPlans.com
- Best for Additional Benefits: MetLife Dental Insurance
- Best Value: Guardian Dental
- Best for Combined Dental and Vision: Ameritas
Best Dental Insurance Providers
Here are Benzinga’s picks for the best dental insurance providers.
1. Best for Comparison Shopping: DentalInsurance.com
DentalInsurance.com makes finding the right dental insurance plan simple. You just enter basic information, including your date of birth and ZIP code to receive 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.
2. Most Affordable: Smart Health Dental
Smart Health Dental is a national insurance provider. It offers multiple dental insurance plans and a discount card. Its plans have no waiting period and they have a network of more than 200,000 dental providers.
Smart Health Dental offers a preventive plan, a plan for major procedures, a senior plan and a family plan. Plan benefits may increase each year. To get a quote or purchase a plan, you call Smart Health Dental’s expert representatives, who can also answer any questions you have about coverage.
3. Best for Discount Plans: Careington
Careington offers dental discount plans. These plans work differently from insurance. With insurance, getting your bills covered can be time-consuming. With a discount card, you receive your discount at the time of service, so you know exactly how much you owe.
Careington’s discount card offers 20% to 60% off most dental procedures, including orthodontics and cosmetic services. Not all plans cover orthodontics, and most don’t cover cosmetic services like teeth whitening.
Careington offers an extensive provider network and there are no limits on how often you use the discount. You can choose whether to pay monthly or annually. You receive a discount for paying annually. You can also add a vision discount and telemedicine to your dental plan for an additional cost.
Prices from Careignton Dental:
- Member Only: $99 per year
- Member Plus One: $149 per year
- Member Plus Family: $179 per year
*The plan is not insurance. The plan provides discounts at certain health care providers for medical services. The plan does not make payments directly to the providers of medical services. The plan member is obligated to pay for all health care services but will receive a discount from those health care providers who have contracted with the discount plan organization.
4. Most Coverage Area: 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 dental insurance 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.
5. Best Supplemental Plan: 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 insurance, you can also shop for that through DentalPlans.com.
Prices from DentalPlans:
- 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.
6. Best for Additional Benefits: MetLife Dental Insurance
MetLife offers a unique dental insurance option to 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
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.
7. Best Value: 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.
8. Best for Combined Dental and Vision: 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.
Is MetLife Dental Good?
The biggest complaint from MetLife customers is difficulty in connecting with customer service and claims issues. The plans seem to be in the ‘affordable’ range, starting at $15 a month. Most cleanings and exams are covered 100% so if you’re looking for the basics, MetLife sounds like a good option.
Cost of Dental Insurance
Dental insurance 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 average monthly premiums are:
- $22.50 for a dental HMO
- $62.75 for a dental PPO
- $81.50 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Insurance can be complicated. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about dental insurance.
Q: What does dental insurance cover?
A: Dental plans typically cover a range of services. These services are typically divided into three categories:
- Preventive care. Most plans cover 100% of preventive care, including cleanings, x-rays and an evaluation by a dentist.
- Basic procedures. This category includes tooth extractions, fillings, root canals and follow-up office visits. Plans typically cover 80% of the cost of basic procedures up to your plan’s maximum annual benefits.
- Major procedures. Plans typically cover 50% or less of the cost for services in this category. Crowns, bridges and dentures all fall into this category. Root canals may be in this category, and some plans cover dental implants as a major procedure.
Plans may also cover orthodontics.
Q: Is there a dental plan that covers everything?
A: Dental insurance plans typically don’t cover everything. Some plans only cover preventive care. Other plans cover preventive care, basic procedures and major procedures but not orthodontics. Most plans don’t cover cosmetic procedures.
Even the most comprehensive plans require you to pay out-of-pocket. Deductibles typically range from $50 to $100 per person, or you might have a family deductible. Plans also have maximum annual benefits, and the median maximum annual benefit is $1,500, according to the National Association of Dental Plans.
You’ll typically also have to pay a copay or coinsurance for covered services. A copay is a set dollar amount. For example, you might pay $25 for an office visit. Coinsurance is a percentage of the cost. You might pay 50% of the cost for a crown or 20% of the cost of a root canal.
Q: Is Dental PPO or HMO better?
A: Whether a PPO or HMO is better depends on your priorities and the network of the plan you’re considering. HMOs tend to have lower premiums than PPOs. The downside is that you have to see an in-network dentist. If you have an HMO and see an out-of-network provider, your plan may not pay for any services you receive. If you have a dentist you prefer, check to see if they’re in-network for any plans you’re considering.
PPOs tend to cost more, but they have more flexibility. You typically pay less if you see an in-network provider, but the plan will still provide some coverage if you see an out-of-network dentist.
Q: Can you have 2 dental plans?
A: You can have 2 dental plans. For example, you might have one from your employer and one from your spouse’s employer. Which plan pays 1st depends on the language of the policy.
Typically the plan where you’re an employee is the primary plan. The plan where you’re the spouse or dependent is the secondary plan. The primary plan pays 1st, and the secondary plan will pay after that.
Q: Is there a waiting period for dental insurance?
A: Dental insurance plans often have waiting periods. The waiting periods most often apply to major procedures. You may have to wait 6 months to a year before major procedures are covered. If you need a major procedure soon, be sure to look at waiting periods in the plans you’re considering. Preventive care typically doesn’t have a waiting period.
Choose the Right Dental Plan
To choose the right dental plan, consider the premium (your monthly or annual payment) along with potential out-of-pocket costs and the plan’s annual maximum. If dental insurance 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.
If you go with dental insurance, 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. Look for a plan that has a premium that fits into your budget and benefits that make sense for you and your family.
Best 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 who 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.
Did We Say Discount?
DentalInsurance.com is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kelsey National Corporation (KNC). A leading provider of dental insurance, DentalInsurance.com was the first to let individuals comparison-shop and apply for dental insurance and discount dental plans online.
DentalInsurance.com provides families, individuals and business owners with the easiest way to compare and purchase affordable, quality dental insurance and discount dental plans.