Do you really need a dental insurance plan? Maybe you should just get a dental savings plan instead? If you’ve ever questioned what are the best dental insurance plans this article will help clarify them and help make your decision quickly.
Finding the best dental insurance can be a huge pain, especially if your employer doesn’t provide anything or you are self-employed.
Plus, most medical insurance plans don’t cover common dental expenses but may cover major surgery.
If you anticipate going to the dentist regularly, a dental plan can help you save money.
Dental Insurance Plans
There are tons of different dental insurance and dental savings plans available.
Below is a breakdown of the best dental plans and savings programs to determine if you really need dental insurance. Plan prices and options can vary by state of residence.
1. Delta Dental
Delta Dental is who I personally and can give nothing less than a glowing review of their services.
Full disclaimer, I’m the 1% of people who actually like going to the dentist because I found such a great practice. They have very affordable and comprehensive dental insurance plans, in my opinion.
Delta Dental is one of the country’s best dental insurance companies with access to over 145,000 dentists in the United States.
With a large number of plans and over 60 million Americans using Delta Dental, they are a trusted provider with an outstanding reputation. Their dental insurance prices are nearly unbeatable as well.
Basic Dental Insurance
A basic care dental insurance plan is only $108 per year plus a $10 enrollment fee. The best part is that there is no deductible and no maximum amount for this plan.
Your benefits can begin immediately but you may have to wait one month to start using insurance. Some plans aren’t capped on coverage. Some major dental work may have a waiting period.
Having access to a large network of providers also helps lower the cost for you.
One thing that some people won’t like is that you do need to select a dentist and stick with them to avoid more charges.
If you need big procedures make sure you to go to your regular dentist or it will cost you much more.
Lastly, their co-pays are as low as $5 per visit and $5 for a regular cleaning. All of the annual x-rays and comprehensive exams are 100% covered.
Delta Dental also offers PPO-type plans (Preferred Provider Organization). The pricing for services is similar to a basic plan. But your out-of-pocket expenses are a percentage of the dentist bill.
In some states, a PPO plan might be your only coverage option.
2. Cigna Dental Insurance
Cigna Dental is another major provider that has a long-standing positive reputation for its dental insurance plans. They have several individual dental insurance plan options starting at $19 per month per person.
There is also a dental discount program which I’ll cover later in this article as a dental insurance alternative.
Cigna has around 70,000 dentists in the network and heavily incentivizes you to choose a provider within their network.
Like almost all providers, their services range from preventive, basic and major services.
Here are the three most common Cigna Dental plans.
Cigna Dental Preventive Plan
The basic Cigna Dental Preventive Plan offers these coverage benefits:
- Preventive (in-network): $0
- Restorative: N/A
- Orthodontia: N/A
- Deductible: $0 for individuals and $0 for families
- Monthly plans start at $19 per person
This entry-level plan pays 100% of in-network diagnostic and preventive care services with no deductible. However, all non-preventive procedures cost extra.
Cigna Dental 1000
The mid-tier Cigna Dental 1000 plan has these coverage benefits:
- Preventive (in-network): $0
- Restorative: Up to $1,000 per year
- Orthodontia: N/A
- Deductible: $50 for individuals and $150 families
This plan covers preventive care, restoration, and diagnostic procedures. You may also receive orthodontic discounts if you choose an orthodontist within the network.
Cigna Dental 1500
This premium plan has all the benefits of the MyCigna Dental 1000 and provides an extra $1,000 in lifetime orthodontic care as well as higher $1,500 annual limit.
- Preventive (in-network): $0
- Restorative: Up to $1,500 per year
- Orthodontia: Up to $1,000 per year
- Deductible: $50 for individuals and $150 families
3. Humana Dental
Humana Dental is a top dental insurance provider that has plans for all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.
They offer several plans that all vary with premiums, copays and deductibles. Most plans are PPO-type dental insurance.
One of the best benefits of Humana Dental Insurance is that they don’t use underwriting.
This means that if you have a bad history of dental problems that it will not count against you.
If you choose Humana, try to stay in the network as you save a substantial amount.
Here is a breakdown of their most popular dental insurance plans.
Humana Complete Dental PPO
This PPO plan helps with routine dental needs and covers a portion of more serious procedures like root canals, crowns and dentures.
Your copay may only be up to 50% for major work.
- In-network preventive service deductible: $0
- Annual deductible: $50 per person and $150 per family
- Annual benefit maximum: Up to $1,500
There is no waiting period for preventive service. The waiting period is six months for basic work and 12 months for major work.
MyOption Dental Value Plan HMO
This HMO provides full coverage for:
- Routine exams
There is a small copay for major work but no waiting period.
There isn’t an annual benefit maximum or annual deductible but no reimbursement for out-of-network providers.
If you need more comprehensive dental work this can be a great option but your copay for major work is between 50% and 80% after the deductible for major work.
The copay reduces after holding the plan for multiple years for simple and major work.
- Deductible: $150 per person or $450 per family (one-time deductible)
- Annual plan maximum: Up to $1,500 per individual
- Routine cleaning and exam: $0
- X-rays and fillings: You pay up to 60% after deductible
- Simple extractions: You pay up to 60% after deductible
4. MetLife Dental
MetLife Dental offers several options from PPO plans with full-service dental for retirees to HMO plans.
The MetLife 2-9 Dental plan is the most popular offered as they pre-negotiate fees within the network of dentists for over 400 different procedures.
This plan offers 100% coverage on preventative care, 80% coverage on basic care, and 50% coverage on major care plus a $50 deductible. Annual limits are like other providers, ranging from $1,000 to $1,500.
5. Principal Dental Insurance
Principal dental insurance is only offered through your employer, but they do include several different plans. They have PPO’s that reward you for using in-network dentists and several different options, including employer-paid.
Employers elect their contribution level up to 100% of the total amount and the plan covers all types of procedures.
6. Aetna Dental Insurance
Aetna offers individual and group PPO dental plans in most states.
Depending on which plan you choose, you can have these coverage benefits:
- Preventive: No cost
- Basic: Up to 50%
- Major: Up to 50%
- Annual maximum benefit: Up to $1,250 per person
- Deductible: $50 per person or $150 per family
Group Insurance Plans
Group insurance plans are available in select states through Aetna Dental.
Their dental services range from basic preventative care to major services like root canals, dentures and crowns.
Vital Savings Discount Program
Another way to reduce medical bills is with Aetna dental discount programs in 47 states (sorry Montana, Tennessee and Vermont residents).
These discount cards start at $7.99 per month and can save you up to 50% off your dental work.
7. Blue Cross Dental
Blue Cross dental insurance is a very common plan among employers and also offers individual plans as well. But coverage isn’t available in every state.
They offer dental insurance that provides both individual dental plans as well as pediatric dental plans.
Standalone coverage is available. But you may also decide to buy medical insurance from Blue Cross Blue Shield (or sister company Anthem) for essential insurance coverage.
They offer two main dental programs from Blue Cross.
Dental Net 3000D
This program has no deductible, no maximum amounts and an office copay visit of only $10.
Essential Choice PPO
With this dental insurance plan, there is no deductible but there is a waiting period. After the waiting period, you pay 100% of services after reaching the annual maximum carryover amount.
The maximum annual carryover amount can be between $1,000 and $2,500 depending on the plan option. Higher carryover amounts require a higher monthly plan cost.
8. eHealth Dental Insurance
eHealth has been around for 20 years and has over 5 million customers in all 50 states making them a trusted provider.
They don’t actually offer dental insurance plans but instead act as an insurance marketplace. You can quickly compare plans from over 270 dental insurance companies.
Plans start at $8.95 per money per person.
You can compare the best dental insurance options by these filters:
- Plan provider
- Annual maximum benefit
- Plan type (i.e., HOM or PPO)
- Monthly cost
Comparing multiple insurance providers can be tiresome. eHealth can reduce your research time.
9. Aflac Dental Insurance
Aflac dental insurance is another provider that does not have underwriting which makes it easy for you to sign up.
Their services can cover all or part of these expenses:
- Basic cleaning
- Cosmetic dentistry
Another huge benefit is that you don’t have to stay within a network and pays benefits directly to policyholders instead of the dentist.
Also, Aflac offers a “disappearing deductible.” The deductible per person is $50 for the first year. This deductible reduces to $25 in the second year and $0 during the third year.
PPO and maximum allowable charge (MAC) plans are available. You can request a quote to see which plan type meets your monthly budget and dental needs.
10. Ameritas Dental Insurance
Ameritas dental insurance has tons of different, customizable plans.
Their popular “PrimeStar” plans have a $50 deductible with varying monthly costs and coverage amounts.
You to choose between the following coverage options:
- One or two cleaning services per year
- Preventative care: Up to 100%
- Basic care: Up to 80% coverage
- Major care: 50% or 0%
- Annual Maximum Limits: $500, $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000
This is one of my favorite plans as it has a ton of different options to suit you and your families individual needs.
Also, if you currently have dental insurance, there is no waiting period.
You might also consider Ameritas for buying term life insurance.
11. Physicians Mutual Dental Insurance
Physicians Mutual provides supplemental dental insurance for both families and individuals.
They have over 500,000 providers in their network and the plans cover 350+ services. There isn’t an annual or lifetime maximum.
There have three basic dental plans:
- Economy Plus
- Standard Plus
- Preferred Plus
Each option covers the same procedures yet the only difference is the cost and benefit amount.
No plan has any annual or lifetime maximum.
12. Costco Dental Insurance
Yes, Costco does offer dental insurance that you can sign up for after grabbing a $2 slice of pizza. These plans are available to all Costco members.
Their plan covers more than 260 services with premiums starting around $0 per month with no annual maximum or deductibles.
The Delta Dental group HMO dental plan is only available for Costco members in these states:
- Washington State
See how to get a free Costco membership.
13. Guardian Dental
Guardian offers life, health and dental insurance plans. Their website makes it easy to get a quote and see how you can best utilize Guardian Dental.
Plans start at $20 per month in most states with over 100,000 providers.
One of their most popular plans, DentalGuard Preferred, covers 100% of preventative and basic services.
But it does have a 0% coverage on major work such a root canal, dentures or orthodontic work.
14. USAA Dental Insurance
The USAA dental insurance plans are only eligible for USAA members and their families that are active or former military.
Through the USAA marketplace, you can sign up with top dental providers. Cigna and IHC are the two current plan providers.
What is the Best Dental Plan?
So which dental plan should you choose?
The biggest factors for choose dental insurance include:
- Your budget
- Past medical history
- Where you live
- Extend of coverage options
My top three choices are Delta Dental, Cigna or Humana dental insurance plans. But your comparison may lead to a different choice that’s better for your personal needs.
Check with several providers to compare the monthly cost and coverage options. You will receive free quotes to find out what best dental insurance plan works for you.
If you still aren’t sold on the best dental insurance plans there is another option known as dental savings plans.
What are Dental Savings Plans?
Dental savings plans allow you to save with certain dentists because you are a member. Dental savings plans are not dental insurance.
Make sure you understand whether you enroll in dental insurance or a dental savings plan. This distinction is important to avoid costly mistakes.
The main benefit for dental savings plans is that you can save up to 50% on basic procedures.
Your monthly cost is also a fraction of the cost of dental insurance.
Most dental savings plans range around $10 per month while most insurance is triple that rate. Be sure to check if there is a one time or annual enrollment fee as well.
Not every dental savings plan is available in every state.
Cigna Dental Savings
The Cigna dental savings plan is a great program to give you discounts and access their large network of dentists.
The discounts are substantial and can allow you to save between 10 and 60% of your services depending on the services. Cigna states the average discount is 34%.
The rate is $96 per year for individuals. Rates for families and seniors are higher.
Additionally, they have bonuses like identity theft protection. Discounts are available for other medical expenses like vision, prescriptions and hearing care.
Humana Dental Savings
Humana Dental savings plans start at $8.99 per month with some states requiring a $15 one-time enrollment fee.
Prices will vary by the region and dentist that you select as well.
Humana Dental allows you to select any in-network dentists and make payments directly to the dentist for a discounted rate.
They also offer additional discounts on hearing, vision, and prescriptions. Additionally, they also provide discounts of up to 30% on acupuncture and massage therapy treatments.
DentalPlans.com is a dental savings marketplace. You can compare available plans using your zip code.
The best plans let you save from 10% to 60% on most dental procedures. They have no wait times or limits.
You simply go the dentist of your choice in their network and get the services you need.
The sign-up process is quick and almost always accepted within 24 to 72 hours. Prices start at just $10 per month.
Careington Dental Savings
Unlike other providers that offer both dental insurance and dental savings, Careington only offers discount programs.
You are responsible for a one-time annual premium for your plan. The yearly cost starts at $99 for the cheapest of three plans.
There are only around 62,000 dentists in the network but their discounts are usually around 50% on preventative care with smaller discounts on major procedures.
The main reason to choose Careington is for its low fees. Also, there are no limits on coverage and no paperwork.
Will smoking affect my dental insurance rates?
Similar to the two basic types of life insurance policies, smoking can play a big role in determining your monthly premium.
Typically if you have smoked in the last five years it can increase your rates.
The main reason for the increased rate is that gum disease and more dental issues are directly related to smoking and chewing tobacco.
Can I get work done at dental schools for a discount?
Yes, this is a great way to save money for dental work. Dental students need to practice their procedures before they become qualified dentists.
If you’re worried about quality, don’t worry — they have licensed dentists standing by observing the procedures.
I would recommend primarily using dental schools for routine procedures, such as:
- Teeth cleaning
- Teeth whitening
- Cavity fillings
Major services like root canals and crowns might not be as easy and extremely time-consuming for new dentists.
Be prepared to spend significantly more time at the dental school versus a professional dental office. The dental students are learning throughout the procedures, after all.
Also, be sure to check with your insurance provider to see if this work at dental schools is covered as not all dental plans allow it.
Are there any government programs for dental insurance?
Some states do help provide affordable dental insurance if you are unable to pay yourself.
Check out the National Association of Dental and Craniofacial Research or the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors for more information.
Why doesn’t dental insurance cover all expenses after a deductible is met?
Unlike health insurance, dental insurance plans have an annual benefit ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 per person.
Health insurance is also much more expensive for members which is why they are very different than dental insurance.
What to Look For in Dental Insurance
When you start shopping for the best dental insurance plans it’s important to understand all the terms that are associated with each plan.
Here are the most common dental insurance fees.
Annual Enrollment Fees
Some plans have annual enrollment fees which are charged each year your account renews with the provider.
The fees can range from different providers and some offer no annual enrollment fee.
Others, like Humana, charge only the first year. While the fee is generally less than $50 per year, make sure it is worth it.
The annual enrollment fee can be separate from the initial application fee to buy insurance.
Your dental insurance monthly premium depends on three key factors:
- Is the coverage for an individual or a family?
- Type of coverage
- Level of coverage per work type
If your plans are for families and include major dental work you will pay the highest monthly premium.
With most providers, you do receive a discount if the policy is paid annually, in advance.
Deductibles & Co-Pays
You will also want to understand what each plan’s deductible and copays are for different procedures.
For example, some plans only have copays for certain procedures like preventative care. But you might avoid a copay for basic or major care procedures.
Similar to my post on pet insurance, dental insurance providers only cover a portion of the procedures.
The coverage amount depends on the type of work as major dental can be thousands of dollars.
- Preventative Care: 70 – 100% coverage
- Basic Care: 30-70% coverage
- Major Dental Care: 0-50% coverage
Additionally, a lot of plans give you more coverage the longer you are enrolled in their services.
When you enroll, make sure to see if there is a specific period where a larger percentage is covered. You may need to observe waiting periods, for instance.
Limits on Specific Dental Procedures
Some dental insurance providers will limit the amount or type of procedures:
- Major procedures (i.e., crowns)
Additionally, almost all plans have a specific waiting period for major dental procedures.
Cleaning and Preventative Care
A lot of the plans mentioned above cover 100% of all general cleaning and preventive care procedures.
Most plans offer at least 70%. But I recommend finding a plan with 100% full coverage on cleaning and preventive care as these are the most common dental procedures.
Choosing the Right Network
Finding an in-network dentist is one of the biggest factors for choosing dental insurance.
Dental insurance may not be worth it if you use an out-of-network dentist as you will receive minimal or no discount.
Choosing a network with many local providers can make finding a dentist as easy as possible.
For example, some of the Humana dental plans cover 100% of dentists within the network and only 50% of out of network providers.
Be sure to check and double-check with them to make sure all procedures are from an in-network provider before scheduling basic or major work.
Do I Really Need Dental Insurance?
I wish there was a one size fits all answer.
Unlike health insurance, which many employers offer, dental insurance is optional as the benefits may not be worth the cost.
Dental insurance can save you big if you need orthodontic work or have an unexpected emergency procedure like a root canal.
If you only go one or two times per year, dental insurance isn’t nearly as important.
Compare Dental Procedure Costs
You can compare the out-of-pocket costs for a routine cleaning and x-rays to the cost of dental insurance and benefits.
If you don’t use the dental insurance to the fullest, the monthly premium may be way more than the treatments you receive.
For example, let’s say you only go twice a year for basic teeth cleaning procedures.
The cost is around $80 dollars per visit for a total of $160. But the average dental monthly premium is $30 or $360 annually. Clearly, dental insurance is not worth the costs.
Of course, you can’t plan for unexpected events like root canals or crowns. Dental emergencies can happen unexpectedly.
Having the dental insurance can be worth it to avoid a financial emergency.
Senior Dental Insurance
Dental insurance is usually a great option for children and seniors.
Medicare is very limited with their choices and root canals or dentures can be very expensive. Dental insurance for seniors can offset the insurance gap.
For children, preventive dental care can save money in the future by spotting problems. Dental insurance can also discount the cost of getting braces for children.
If you need some more income to offset costs be sure to check out these side hustles to start making money today.
Average Cost of Dental Insurance
According to the American Dental Association, those without any dental coverage pay approximately $370 per year in out of pocket expenses for routine preventive care.
However, the cost increases if you need major work like crowns or a root canal.
According to DentalPlans.com, “The cost for you to buy a typical individual policy is about $350 per year.” It can be a close decision to figure out if dental insurance is really worth it.
Luckily, there are no shortages of different types of dental insurance plans available.
Most dental insurance procedures are broken down into four different areas:
- Preventive care: general cleaning, deep cleaning and X-rays
- Basic procedures: Fillings, root canals and simple teeth extractions
- Major procedures: Bridges, dentures and extensive surgery
- Orthodontia: Braces for children
Without dental insurance or dental savings plan, it can be very expensive if you need basic or major work done.
However, if you only get preventive care or like a non-network dentist, paying cash can be better. You can save money as you won’t be filing regular claims.
While you might lose money some years with insurance, you can save money when you need basic or major work.
In my opinion, getting dental insurance can be worth it as the estimated costs are almost the same. But you must use an in-network dentist to enjoy the benefits.
Deciding which dental insurance to get can be time-consuming. The best option is to see which insurance your favorite dentist accepts. From there, compare the plans that best cover your regular dental needs.