Proper dental care can be expensive, and this is especially true if you need work beyond basic cleanings and preventive care. A report from the American Dental Association says that, on average, adults ages 19 to 34 spend approximately $492 on dental work within a year, whereas those ages 35 to 49 spend $498. Annual spending surges to $785 on average for individuals ages 50 to 64, which reflects the fact that older Americans tend to need more dental work.
Getting a dental insurance plan at any age can help cover the costs of preventive care while softening the blow on pricier dental procedures like crowns, bridges, and fillings. Still, it’s important to shop around to find dental insurance plans that include the amounts of coverage you need without low annual caps or exclusions that can prevent you from getting any value.
We compared more than 20 dental insurance plans based on premium, coverage, caps, and more. As you search for a new plan for yourself or your family, consider the companies we highlight below.
Best Dental Insurance Providers of 2020
Best Overall: Cigna
You can purchase a plan that includes coverage for restorative care and orthodontic care
All Cigna dental insurance covers preventative care with no deductibles or copayments
Broad network of over 90,000 dentists available nationwide
Waiting periods of six months apply to basic care and 12 months for major services or orthodontics
Dental implants and cosmetic procedures are not covered
Cigna is a global health service company with high marks for financial strength, including an A rating from both AM Best and Standard & Poor’s. Their dental plans work within a nationwide network of over 90,000 dentists, and they offer 24/7 customer support every day of the year. Furthermore, Cigna dental insurance for individuals comes with no copays and no deductibles for preventive care with in-network dentists.
Cigna’s dental Preferred Provider Organization (DPPO) plans are available to consumers of all ages, and pricing is offered on a per person, per month basis. Cigna also lets customers choose a level of care based on their needs, with some plans offering orthodontic care and restorative care at a higher price point.
While the cost for Cigna dental insurance can vary depending on where you live, these quotes can help you get an idea of general pricing:
Why we chose this company: We chose Cigna as the best overall dental insurance due to its broad network of over 90,000 dentists and diversity of plans that can fit a variety of needs and budgets.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Renaissance Dental
Some plans from Renaissance cover preventive care at 100%
Choose from a network of 300,000 dental offices nationwide
Choose a coverage level to meet your needs and get a free quote online
All Renaissance plans come with an annual maximum benefit of $1,000 per person
None of their plans covers orthodontic care
Coverage for basic and major services is limited
The Renaissance Essential plan comes with a six-month waiting period for restorative care
Renaissance Dental works with a network of 300,000 dental offices nationwide, and in-network dentists who use this insurance will file paperwork and claims on your behalf. This company's customer service is known for its quality, and they have several different plans for individuals and families that offer varying levels of coverage and inclusions to meet consumers' needs.
Renaissance Dental has an A rating from AM Best, so you can feel confident in this company’s financial strength. They also make it easy to get a free quote online no matter where you live, so shopping around to compare plans is simple and convenient.
Note that not all Renaissance Dental plans cover preventive care at 100%, and some waiting periods apply for restorative care and major services. Annual maximum benefits for all Renaissance Dental insurance plans are limited to $1,000, and a $50 deductible for individuals or a $150 deductible for families applies to all their plans.
How much you will pay for coverage with this provider depends on where you live, but here are some sample premiums for a 40-year-old in Indiana:
Why we chose this company: Renaissance Dental does not have the same comprehensive coverage as Cigna, but it gets the runner-up spot due to the fact they have a bigger network (300,000+ dental offices) and an excellent reputation for customer service.
Best for No Waiting Periods: Spirit Dental
Three cleanings and two exams per year are covered 100%
No waiting periods
$100 lifetime deductible
Some plans include orthodontic care and all plans include dental implants
Annual maximums for coverage can be as low as $750
Plans vary widely in terms of coverage for different types of work, annual maximum benefits, and costs
Spirit Dental offers dental insurance plans with no waiting periods and annual maximum benefit amounts that increase after you’ve had your plan for a few years. They guarantee acceptance for everyone, and you can even get coverage for major services and dental implants.
Spirit Dental is offered through Ameritas Life Insurance Corp., which has an A+ rating from Standard & Poor’s and an A rating from AM Best for financial strength. Spirit’s partnership with Ameritas also means this company works with one of the largest networks of dentists worldwide. Currently, you can choose from 111,500 dental providers at 428,000 access points nationwide.
Along with having no waiting periods, Spirit Dental charges a one-time $100 deductible, compared to the annual deductibles most coverage providers charge. Spirit offers two dental insurance plans for individuals, both of which include no waiting periods, preventive coverage, three cleanings per year, and even orthodontics for kids, with up to a $5,000 annual maximum benefit after you’ve been a customer for three years.
How much you’ll pay for coverage can vary depending on where you live. However, these quotes show how much you might pay for an individual plan in the state of Indiana:
Why we chose this company: We chose Spirit Dental because their plans don’t require any waiting periods and you only have to pay a $100 deductible once instead of every year.
Best Value: Humana Dental Insurance
Plans include preventive care at 100% coverage
Humana works with over 270,000 dentists nationwide
Choose a plan that meets your budget and unique needs
Waiting periods of six to 12 months for basic and major services apply to some plans
Annual maximum benefits can be as low as $1,000
Humana offers PPO, DHMO, discount, and value plans at varying price points that can make sense for consumers with unique dental care needs. The company currently has an A- rating from AM Best, which means they are fairly solid in terms of financial strength.
You can select from more than 270,000 dentists across the United States, but you should note that plans, coverage amounts, and specifics of each policy can vary widely depending on where you live. Regardless of these differences, what sets Humana apart is their value pricing and provision for 100% coverage for preventive care.
Some dental insurance from Humana features a lifetime deductible, usually $50 for individuals and $150 for families, while other plans charge an annual deductible. Also, note that maximum benefit amounts for this coverage can range from $1,000 to unlimited depending on the policy you choose. Waiting periods can also apply, including a six-month waiting time for basic services and up to 12 months for major services.
If you’re wondering how much dental insurance from Humana might cost, consider these quotes for a 40-year-old individual in Indiana:
Why we chose this company: We chose Humana as the best value due to their low starting rates for basic plans, the fact that preventive services are covered at 100%, and their one-time deductible.
Best for Families: UnitedHealthOne Dental Insurance
Broad network of dentists available
Numerous coverage options for individuals and families
Many plans include preventive care at 100%
Some plans cover orthodontics
Annual maximum benefit amounts can be as low as $1,000 per person
Waiting periods may apply for basic and major services, although they vary
UnitedHealthOne offers dental insurance plans with no age limit and preventive care covered with no deductibles or waiting periods. Note that UnitedHealthOne is part of the UnitedHealth Group, a Fortune 500 company. Policies may be underwritten by the Golden Rule Insurance Company, which has an A rating from AM Best for financial strength.
Dental insurance plans, including coverage amounts and other details, can vary widely with UnitedHealthOne depending on where you live. However, this company does make it easy to get a free quote online without any medical underwriting.
Some plans from UnitedHealthOne require a waiting period of four months or longer for basic care and major services, although details can vary based on where you live. Some higher-tiered plans offer orthodontic coverage, although lower-tier plans may not cover major services like braces, crowns, and bridgework at all. Be aware that annual maximum benefits for some of their plans can be as low as $1,000.
If you’re curious how much one of UnitedHealthOne’s plans might cost in your area, consider these dental insurance quotes for a 40-year-old individual:
Why we chose this company: UnitedHealthOne is our pick as best for families thanks to their winning combination of preventive care and orthodontia coverage that can really save families a lot of money.
Best for Seniors: Physicians Mutual
Choose a level of coverage that suits your needs
No annual or lifetime limits on benefits
No waiting period for preventive care
A waiting period of three months for basic procedures and 12 months for major work
Physicians Mutual sets limits on how much it will pay per procedure, depending on your plan
Physicians Mutual dental insurance can be trusted for their financial strength since the company itself has an A rating from AM Best. This provider also has plans that can be particularly good for seniors since they include coverage for up to 350 procedures including crowns and dentures.
Physicians Mutual dental insurance doesn’t have any deductibles, and coverage for preventive care like cleanings starts right away. A waiting period of three months applies to basic care like fillings and extractions, however, and a 12-month waiting period applies to major services like crowns and root canals.
Interestingly, Physicians Mutual policies come with no annual or lifetime benefit limits on your coverage, and you can choose your dentist from their network of 470,000 providers.
Physicians Mutual offers three basic dental insurance plans. These include:
- Economy Plus plan starts at $30.10 per month if you’re age 50 or older
- Standard Plus plan starts at $37.80 per month if you’re age 50 or older
- Preferred Plus plan starts at $46.75 per month if you’re age 50 or older
With each of these options, you’ll be reimbursed for preventive care, basic care, and major services at a set cost based on the plan you select. Economy Plus plans reimburse at a lower rate, whereas Preferred Plus plans reimburse at the highest rate—you can expect to receive an average of 33% off all covered services.
Why we chose this company: We chose Physicians Mutual for seniors since there are no annual or lifetime limits on the coverage, including benefits to help pay for dentures, and they offer specialized pricing for a senior's budget.
Best for Orthodontics: Delta Dental
Some Delta Dental plans include orthodontic care
No out-of-pocket cost for preventive care
Large network of providers
Annual maximum benefit amounts are low
Orthodontic care is only covered at 50%
Delta Dental belongs to one of the nation’s largest dental provider networks, which makes it easy to choose from more than 348,000 dentists in their Delta Dental PPO and Delta Dental Premier plans. Delta Dental also boasts an A rating from AM Best—a testament to the financial strength of the company.
While plan details vary from state to state, Delta Dental offers several different types of insurance, including options that cover orthodontic care. With their individual PPO plans, for example, orthodontics are covered at 50% for children and adults. A $50 deductible applies, as does a $1,500 annual maximum for care.
Preventive care like cleanings and X-rays is covered at 100%, and all basic and major services including root canals, implants, and crowns are covered at 50%.
Pricing for Delta Dental policies varies depending on where you live, but a PPO plan that includes orthodontic care starts at $64.92 monthly for individuals and $213.34 per month for an average family of four.
Why we chose this company: Delta Dental has several dental insurance plans that include orthodontic care for both children and adults, whereas most other providers don't have multiple, affordable orthodontia choices.
What Is Dental Insurance?
Dental insurance provides a range of coverage for various dental procedures including preventive care and more involved services like fillings, crowns, and root canals. Like other types of insurance, dental insurance requires you to pay a monthly insurance premium, and you may also pay an annual or lifetime deductible as well as copayments when you visit a dentist for care.
Still, dental insurance works differently than health insurance in terms of how much coverage you can receive. Where the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) meant limits can no longer apply to health care coverage in any given year, dental insurance plans often come with annual limits as low as $750 or $1,000 per person. Once your annual maximum benefit amount is met, you will have to pay for dental care out of pocket. Also note that dental insurance frequently comes with waiting periods that can vary depending on the type of care you need.
Make sure you don’t confuse dental insurance with dental discount plans. Dental discount plans only offer reduced pricing on services for dentists in a specific network.
What Does Dental Insurance Typically Include?
Dental insurance plans can vary widely, and this includes what they will and will not include. For this reason, you should read over the terms and conditions of any plan you’re considering to make sure that basic care like fillings as well as major services like crowns and bridges are included in your coverage.
For the most part, the majority of dental insurance plans cover preventive care like cleanings and X-rays at 100%, although waiting periods may apply. Coverage for basic services like fillings, root canals, and tooth extractions is also included, although it’s normally limited to a percentage of the cost (i.e., 50%). You can also buy coverage that includes major services like crowns, bridges, dental implants, and orthodontics, although plans that cover major services tend to cost more and limit the payout to 50% in most cases.
What Does Dental Insurance Typically Exclude?
Dental insurance doesn’t normally cover cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening, and you may also struggle to find coverage for pre-existing conditions such as missing teeth. Some plans leave out major services like dental implants and orthodontic care altogether. Make sure to read over your dental insurance policy to see what it includes and excludes.
What Are the Expected Costs of Dental Insurance?
The cost of dental insurance varies widely depending on where you live, your age, and the plan you select. However, it may be possible to find a plan that costs less than $20 per month for an individual depending on your state and county.
Note that less expensive dental insurance plans tend to cover only a small percentage of services and come with low annual benefit limits. More robust plans can easily cost more like $40 to $60 per month for an individual, although you’ll get more coverage, higher annual benefit amounts, and more included services in return.
Is Paying for Dental Insurance Worth It?
Only you can decide if paying for dental insurance is worth it. However, you should take the time to run some basic cost analysis to determine how much you would pay for dental insurance premiums, copayments, and deductibles per year versus how much you’ve actually paid for dental care in previous years.
According to an analysis from the American Dental Association, most people would actually be better off paying for dental care out of pocket. “For the majority of adults, total copayments, coinsurance, and premiums exceed the ‘market’ value of their dental care,” they write.
Also, keep in mind that you’ll get a lot more value out of your dental insurance plan if you actually use it. The ADA says that more than one out of three adults with dental insurance don’t use their plan, which could be part of the reason many aren’t getting enough value for the money they invest in dental insurance each month.
How We Chose the Best Dental Insurance Companies
We looked at more than 20 dental insurance plans to come up with the providers in our ranking. Not only did we look for plans with the broadest networks of dentists available, but we also looked for plans with reasonable annual benefit maximums and the potential for low premiums. While many of the plans on our list come with waiting periods, we tried to select providers that don’t list cumbersome waiting periods that make using coverage difficult.
We also looked for dental insurance companies with strong ratings in terms of their financial strength, mostly by comparing ratings from Standard & Poor’s and AM Best.
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