Did you know most of our readers prefer DentalInsurance.com for their dental insurance needs?
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 North Carolina dental insurance plans are necessary if you want any type of assistance with your dental bills.
Quick Look: Best North Carolina Dental Insurance
- 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
Best North Carolina (NC) Dental Insurance
Now that you understand how dental insurance in NC works, let’s take a look at some of our favorite plan providers.
1. Best for Immediate Coverage: Careington
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.
- Large network of participating dentists
- Immediate coverage
- Some dentists don’t participate
- Fee schedule can be confusing
2. Best for Orthodontic Coverage: Ameritas
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.
- 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
Not all plans offers the yearly credits
3. Best for No Deductible Plans: Physicians Mutual
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.
This dental insurance company 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.
- Affordable coverage options
- Wide network of dentists to choose from
- Coverage for preventive care and major dental procedures
- - Option to add vision coverage
- Limited coverage for cosmetic dentistry
- Waiting periods for some procedures
- Annual maximum benefit limit
4. Best for Moving to NC: Guardian Direct
- Best For:Young adults and families with children and teenssecurely through Guardian Dental Insurance's website
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.
- 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
- 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
5. 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.
- The platform actually offers more than just dental coverage
- These discount plans can be used with a wide variety of providers
- Quotes can vary widely based on your age, occupation/income, location, etc.
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)
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)
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.
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
100% preventive care 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
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
Protect Your Smile
Finding North Carolina 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does NC Medicaid cover root canals?
Generally, root canals are covered by Medicaid in North Carolina for all those under 21.
Can I choose my dentist with dental insurance in NC?
However, some plans also offer out-of-network coverage, allowing you to see a dentist of your choice, although the coverage levels may be slightly different. Many dental insurance plans in NC have a network of preferred providers, and if you choose to visit a dentist within that network, you may receive better coverage and lower out-of-pocket costs.
Will NC Medicaid cover dental implants?
Sadly, NC Medicaid will not pay for dental implants, permanent bridgework, crown lengthening, etc.
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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About Sarah Horvath
Sarah is an expert in the insurance, investing for retirement and cryptocurrency space.