Dental insurance is a special type of coverage that protects your teeth. Dental insurance helps cover a percentage of your dental bills and keeps your oral health on track. Most health insurance plans don’t include dental coverage, so dental insurance plans are necessary if you want any type of assistance with your dental bills.
Read our guide to dental insurance in North Carolina before you choose a plan.
Best Dental Insurance in North Carolina:
- Best Overall in NC: Smart Health Dental
- Best for Immediate Coverage: Careington
- Best for Orthodontic Coverage: Ameritas
- Best for No Deductible Plans: Physicians Mutual
- Best for Moving to NC: Guardian Direct
- Best for Dental Savings Plans: Dentalplans.com
Types of Dental Coverage
You’ll be happy to learn that dental insurance is much easier to understand if you’ve ever navigated the health insurance plan matrix. There are 3 main types of health insurance plans:
- Dental health maintenance organizations (DHMOs) are similar to health insurance HMOs. You’ll receive a list of in-network dental service providers when you sign onto a DHMO plan. If you want to use your benefits, you’ll need to choose an in-network provider. DHMOs give you the least amount of freedom to choose which dental service providers you see, but they’re almost always cheaper than PPO plans.
- Preferred provider organizations (PPOs) allow you to see any dental service provider you’d like and still use your benefits. You may receive an additional discount if you do see an in-network provider. PPOs give you more freedom to choose which service providers you see but they’re more expensive than DHMOs.
- Benefits/discount plans aren’t technically a type of insurance because they don’t pay for any percentage of your dental bills. Instead, they offer you a set of discounts for certain dental services when you see a certain dental service provider. Benefit and discount plans are usually very affordable compared to insurance plans but they offer limited benefits.
What Does Dental Insurance Cover?
Most dental insurance plans follow a 100-80-50 schedule of benefits. If you have a 100-80-50 plan, it means that your plan covers:
- 100% of preventive care, which includes regular, normal treatments that help prevent future dental issues. Cleanings, exams and x-rays are often considered preventive procedures. Most dental insurance plans cover 100% of your preventive care costs.
- 80% of basic procedure costs, which are normal routine procedures that correct common dental health issues. Root canals, cavity fillings and crowns are usually all considered basic procedures. Many dental insurance plans cover 80% of the cost of basic procedures.
- 50% of major procedure costs are rare and often invasive dental corrections that treat or fix major dental or oral health issues. Bridges, dentures and tooth extractions are all usually considered major procedures. Most insurance companies cover 50% of the cost of major procedures.
Dental insurance companies aren’t required to cover any particular procedure or treatment, unlike health insurance. The 100-80-50 schedule is the most common benefit structure but not every dental insurance plan offers this specific list of benefits.
Remember to read and understand your individual insurance plan before you enroll — the best dental insurance plans clearly lay out what’s covered (and what isn’t) in their benefits list.
What Does Dental Insurance Not Cover?
No matter which dental insurance company you choose, there are a few services and procedures that your dental insurance plan won’t cover. Some of the most common exclusions you’ll see include:
- Preexisting conditions. Unlike health insurance providers, dental insurance providers don’t need to provide coverage for conditions that you have when you sign up for your plan. Most dental insurance plans include waiting periods that limit when you can use your benefits to avoid covering preexisting conditions. Expect your dental insurance provider to limit your benefits if you have a long-standing or chronic dental issue.
- Orthodontics. Most dental insurance plans don’t include coverage for orthodontic treatments. If your plan does include coverage for orthodontic treatments and procedures, it’s usually limited to children classified as dependents on your plan.
- Cosmetic treatments. Purely cosmetic dental treatments (like teeth whitening) are never covered under dental insurance.
Average Cost of Dental Insurance in North Carolina
The cost of dental insurance in NC is similar to costs across the United States.
You can expect to pay between $30 and $40 for an individual plan.
What to Look for in a Dental Insurance Provider
Not every dental insurance plan is equal in value. Whether you’re looking for an affordable individual plan or a comprehensive family plan, be sure the plan you choose has the following essential characteristics:
- An affordable deductible. Like with a standard health insurance plan, a deductible is the amount of money you need to pay out of pocket for your dental care per year before your insurance kicks in and starts offering coverage. You’ll only receive a limited number of benefits from your insurance if your deductible is too high. Look for an insurance plan with a reasonable deductible that you can afford.
- A high maximum benefit limit. Most dental plans have some kind of annual maximum benefit limit. If you hit your maximum, you’ll be responsible for paying for any remaining dental care costs out-of-pocket. Look for a plan with a high annual maximum to get the most out of your coverage.
- Coverage for the services you need. Dental insurance plan providers can exclude nearly any service or procedure from coverage. Don’t sign onto a plan before you read and understand what’s covered — and what isn’t. Choose a plan that includes coverage for all of the services and procedures you’re likely to need.
Best Dental Insurance Providers in NC
Now that you understand how dental insurance in NC works, let’s take a look at some of our favorite plan providers.
1. Smart Health Dental: Best Overall
Smart Health Dental (SHD) offers multiple dental insurance and non-insurance plan options. It has an extensive national network of over 200,000 licensed dental providers. No waiting periods
There are no waiting periods, and you’ll find dental insurance plans with up to 100% coverage on preventive procedures.
Call for a free quote Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.
2. Careington: Best for Immediate Coverage
Careington Dental Insurance isn’t technically insurance — it’s a dental savings plan. Enrolling in a Careington plan allows you access to dental care from participating providers at a reduced cost. You’ll find a large network of participating dentists, immediate coverage and no age limits.
Its 500 Savings Plan is the most popular. This plan offers an average of 20% to 60% off of standard fees for most dental procedures, including routine exams, teeth cleaning for both adults and children and root canals. The 500 Dental Savings Plan also offers 20% off of orthodontics such as braces. And you’ll also receive unlimited access to eDocAmerica, a free email service to ask dentists questions.
3. Ameritas: Best for Orthodontic Coverage
Orthodontia (including braces, retainers and headgear) are not usually solely cosmetic devices. Crooked teeth can cause a variety of dental health issues, ranging from infections to chewing problems. But most dental insurance plans don’t include coverage for orthodontic treatments.
Ameritas is 1 of the only dental insurance providers in North Carolina that offers coverage for orthodontics. You can get a plan for about $37 a month and get up to $2,000 of orthodontic coverage.
Not interested in orthodontics? Ameritas has a plan for you — it starts at just $25 a month.
4. Physicians Mutual: Best for No Deductible Plans
High-deductible plans are often not worth the cost of your premium. Physicians Mutual is a rare dental insurance provider that offers $0 deductibles for all plan tiers. Physicians Mutual plans are also exceptionally affordable (available from just $25 a month for individuals) and include PPO coverage.
Physicians Mutual offers some of the fastest quotes you can get online — just enter your state, information on who you need to cover and your birthdate to get an estimate. Affordable, fast and with $0 deductibles, Physicians Mutual offers incredible insurance choices, no matter how much coverage you need.
5. Guardian Direct: Best for Moving to NC
It can be hard to find a reliable set of new medical service providers that accepts your insurance when you move to a new state.
Guardian Direct doesn’t just help you enroll in an insurance plan — it offers a dental search tool that tells you which dentists in your area accept each insurance plan. This can allow you to make arrangements with a specific office before you enroll in your new plan.
Guardian Direct’s plans are generous and affordable and offer PPO coverage for less than $25 per month for individuals.
6. Best for Dental Savings Plans: Dentalplans.com
Dentalplans.com is a hub for you to search and find a dental savings plan. Dental savings plans are not insurance. But your monthly membership buys you a savings card to present at the dentist of your choice for a percentage off the price of your services.
Dental savings plans can be an affordable alternative to insurance. Your plan works through nationwide network of dentists that offer 10 to 60% savings on preventive and restorative treatments.
Dentalplans.com is the perfect place to find your savings plan. If you find the same dental savings product at a lower cost, call its AtYourService® Team. It will match the price offered by online competitors.
Protect Your Smile
Finding dental insurance that works with your budget doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s never been easier to get a plan quote — most companies allow you to see your plan options in as little as 1 minute.
Be sure to collect a few quotes before you choose which plan is right for you. Get started now with our recommended dental insurance and dental savings plan providers.
Average Cost of Invisalign per State
Most adults prefer Invisalign over braces because they adjust your teeth quicker and are less noticeable. What's not as noticeable is the price tag. And why does the average price change from state to state? Short answer the price is influenced by a number of factors but office location can mean higher or lower costs based cost of living.
On the low end, you can expect to pay $3,000 for a round of Invisalign and $9,000on the high end. The highest price we've seen for Invisalign is in California while the cheapest is in Texas. For a middle of the road price, you can look to Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and North Carolina.
It's possible your insurance might cover a portion of Invisalign treatments. See a list of dental insurance providers to compare coverage and a list of dental insurance that covers the Invisalign alternative, braces.
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.