If you are a senior looking for affordable dental insurance, you aren’t alone. In fact, 23% of seniors have not been to a dentist in five years. The best senior dental insurance options help you budget and save money in retirement while still getting proper dental care.
Dental insurance for seniors is the same as dental insurance for other individuals but focuses on the coverages seniors will need. These include crowns, root canals, dentures, and tooth replacement. Even though these are not unique to seniors, there is a higher probability that seniors will need one or more of these coverages.
We researched price, waiting periods, copays, and annual maximums to find plans that offer great dental insurance even when you are on a budget. Read on for our roundup of the best dental insurance plans for seniors to help you get the dental coverage you need without breaking the bank.
The 7 Best Dental Insurance Providers for Seniors in 2021
Best for Preventive Care: Cigna
Offers three different plans
In-network preventive care paid at 100%
No waiting period for preventive/diagnostic care
Online claims handling and an app to manage claims
24/7 service and access to a health information line
Basic plan only covers preventive services
$1,000/$1,500 maximum annual benefit
Cigna has been in business for more than 225 years and currently serves over 17 million U.S. dental insurance customers individually and through employee benefit programs. They have a BBB Rating of A+. AM Best gives Cigna an A rating for financial strength. Cigna was our number-one choice for best for preventive care for seniors based on several factors, which include:
- No deductible and no copay for preventive care that includes cleanings and routine x-rays
- A nationwide network of over 93,000+ dentists
- No need to file claims in-network—your dentist does it for you
- Their Brighter Score tool rates dentists based on affordability and patient experience
- 24/7/365 customer support and more
You can choose from three dental plans that range in price and coverage, starting with Cigna Dental Preventive, which is the most affordable at $19 per month and is perfect for routine exams. Cigna Dental 1000 costs $30 per month and allows for dental work beyond basic preventive care, including for some forms of restoration, with a coverage maximum of $1,000. The highest level of protection, Cigna Dental 1500, gives you all the preventive and restorative care of the 1000-level plan, plus some orthodontia coverage and a $1,500 maximum, all for $35 monthly. Deductibles are $50 per person or $150 for a family.
There is a six-month waiting period for basic coverages and 12 months for major work. If you have 12 months of prior continuous insurance with another provider, you can make the switch to Cigna, and the waiting periods may be waived.
Why We Chose It: We selected Cigna as the best for preventive care because they are not only affordable, but they have $0 deductible and $0 copay preventive dental plans and make life easy with 24/7 customer service and zero-paperwork claims.
Best for Provider Flexibility: Aflac
Flexibility to choose any dentist
Pays claims directly to you
Very few NAIC complaints vs. other companies
Not available in all states
Replacement of missing teeth excluded (when pre-existing)
Coverage will depend on the schedule of benefits
Does not cover treatment for crowns within five years of the last replacement
No coverage outside the U.S.
Aflac has been a trusted name in supplemental health and dental coverage since 1955. They insure over 50 million people and have a Moody’s debt rating of A3, as well as a record of low complaints with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Aflac pays claim reimbursements directly to you, not the dentist opening up a national network of dentists for flexibility and convenience. They offer online policy management with access to other supplemental insurance coverage, such as vision plans.
Aflac waiting periods are defined per service category, which is found in the schedule of benefits. For example, there is no waiting period for a dental wellness visit or x-rays. Pain relief has a three-month waiting period, extractions have a six-month waiting period, root canals have a 12-month waiting period, and dentures have a 24-month waiting period. Annual maximums vary by plan; we found examples up to $1,600.
Aflac has many exclusions that relate to pre-existing conditions or work done within recent time periods. For example, missing teeth before the start of coverage are not covered.
Why We Chose It: Aflac allows you to visit the dentist of your choice and does not restrict your access to a network, making them our top pick for best senior dental insurance with provider flexibility.
Best for Annual Maximums: Renaissance Dental
Plans with no waiting period
Participating dentists submit the claim for you
Loyalty program with increasing annual maximums
Possibility to bundle dental with vision care
Cleanings covered up to three times a year on some plans
Annual maximum of $3,000 is only available in the Max Plus Plan
Can be expensive depending on the state
No orthodontics for seniors
Renaissance was founded in 1957 and covers over 13 million people for dental, vision, life, and disability insurance. They have an AM Best Financial Strength Rating of A+ (Superior) as of May 2020.
Premiums for Renaissance plans can vary a lot. You can see your price on their website.
Renaissance has no waiting periods on cleanings on either plan. Nor is there a waiting period for fillings or crowns on the MAX Choice Plan and MAX Choice Plus. Annual maximums ranged from $750 on their very basic plans up to $3,000 on the top tier plan. There is a $50 deductible for individual plans and a $150 deductible for family plans.
Some of Renaissance’s basic plans exclude major work like root canals or crowns. However, they do offer other plans that provide 20% coverage in the first year. If you remain insured with them, they reward loyalty with a coverage increase on major work each year, up to year three, where they provide up to 50% coverage for major work.
Why We Chose It: Renaissance is our top pick for seniors for annual maximums because they offer up to a $3,000 annual maximum coverage cap based on loyalty.
Best for Affordable Options: Humana
Large provider network
Several plans to choose from
Waiting periods may be waived with proof of prior insurance
Loyalty plans with increasing maximum benefits
Some plans offer lifetime deductibles
Six-month waiting period for fillings
Annual plan maximums $1,000 to $1,250 in the first year
Some states charge enrollment fees of $35
Not all plans are available in all states
Founded in 1961 with headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, Humana has a long history in health insurance. Their excellent reputation has earned them a solid A- financial strength rating from AM Best. Humana's complaints trend with the NAIC shows them receiving a slightly above average number of complaints.
Humana offers dental insurance plans in all states and with several options, whether you want a preventive-only policy or more extensive coverage.
- Preventive Value PPO: $50 per person lifetime deductible (maximum $150 per family) with no waiting periods on preventive care or basic services, such as emergency care for pain relief, extractions, root removal, and fillings.
- Dental Preventive Plus PPO: $50 per person deductible (maximum $150 per family) with a six-month waiting period on basic services.
- Dental Loyalty Plus PPO: $150 individual lifetime deductible (maximum $450 for a family) with no waiting periods.
- Complete Dental PPO: $50 individual and a $150 family deductible. Deductibles are waived for in-network preventive care. There is no waiting period for preventive services, a six-month waiting period for basic services, and a 12-month waiting period for major services.
There's a variety of options from Humana that will help save you money, and you can find exactly which ones fit your personal needs and work within your budget. For instance, you can add vision coverage to your plan without a second enrollment fee for $16 per month on average.
Additionally, the Dental Loyalty Plus PPO has an annual maximum that starts at $1,000 and increases yearly ($1,250 in year two, $1,500 in years three and beyond), so the longer you keep your policy, the more you get back from it. Some plans have no annual maximum, and others provide between 80% and 50% co-insurance on certain procedures. Check the easy-to-use comparison of plans quote tool on the website for details.
Why We Chose It: Humana offers several plan options with loyalty advantages, lifetime deductibles, and the ability to add vision coverage. With so many options to choose from, Humana is our top pick for the best affordable options because seniors can find the plan that meets their needs and budgets.
Best for Fast Coverage: United Healthcare
Can add vision as a rider on the dental plan
Hearing aids/exams included in the dental plan
No waiting periods on many services
Direct payment to in-network dentists
No maximum age limit
Only offered in 44 states
Out-of-network coverage is more expensive and less convenient
UnitedHealthcare has been in business since 1974 and has a Moody’s rating of A1, stable. UnitedHealthcare dental insurance is available in 44 states. They offer four Dental Gen Plans, as they're known, that are very specifically tailored to the needs of seniors.
Gen policies come with senior-friendly options such as adding vision and hearing aid benefits to your dental package and enjoying day-one coverage for many services. The basic Gen Saver Dental plan is the cheapest option. Moving up there is the Gen Basic Denta and then the Gen Plus Dental. Lastly, the top-tier Gen Deluxe Dental is the premier option.
What sets UnitedHealthcare's Gen dental insurance apart is their immediate coverage—preventive care has no waiting period in all Gen plans, and basic services are available with no waiting period or up to a four-month waiting period depending on the plan. Major services have a six-month waiting period (if covered). This day-one coverage is a huge convenience and helps UnitedHealthcare Gen plans stand apart from the competition.
Some other features and benefits include:
- Plans have annual maximums ranging from $1,000 to $2,000.
- Gen Basic, Saver, and Plus plans have a $100 deductible per person per year; the Deluxe Plan is $50 per person per year.
- Preventive care is covered 100% on the Basic and Deluxe plans but only 60% on the Saver and Plus plans.
- Major services on these plans are covered at 10% on day one but increase to 40% in a year and 50% in two.
Coverage is excluded outside the United States. Teeth that were missing before the policy start are also excluded. There is no coverage for replacing full or partial dentures, crowns, inlays, onlays, and veneers within 60 months of the last replacement.
Why We Chose It: UnitedHealthcare is our top pick for fast coverage because they make life easy by offering immediate coverage in addition to other senior-friendly features like hearing and vision benefit inclusion.
Best for Largest Provider Network: Aetna
Largest provider network with 372,000 providers
No waiting period for preventive services
High costs out-of-network
Six-month waiting period for basic services including fillings and extractions
Limited coverage in Massachusetts
Limited plan options
Aetna has been providing dental insurance for over 50 years and serves more than 13 million dental members. Aetna has the most far-reaching provider network of our review, with more than 372,000 practitioners to choose from, which makes it especially easy for seniors to find a nearby dentist without the need to travel too far.
Aetna’s dental plans are available in most states; they offer online account management that allows you to get cost estimates, find an in-network dentist online, as well as check claims and statements.
There are two coverage tiers for seniors to choose from: the Preferred PPO and the lower-tiered Core PPO plan. There is a $50 deductible per person or $150 deductible for a family per calendar year.
Preventive services never have a waiting period, basic services have a six-month waiting period, and major services have a 12-month waiting period. Waiting periods may be waived with proof of prior dental insurance.
Annual maximum benefits are $1,000 or $1,250 in-network. If you go out of network, annual maximums are reduced by $250. Aetna's dental plans have 20% to 50% coinsurance for basic and major work.
Why We Chose It: Aetna boasts a tremendous network of 372,000 providers, which puts it well above the competition in this review and makes it easy and convenient to find the right dentist in your area.
Best Value: Delta Dental (AARP Member Plans)
Guaranteed acceptance for AARP members
No-deductible plan available
No waiting periods on preventive care, fillings, tooth removal, and other services
PPO or HMO plans available depending on the state
Low-cost, fixed-copay option with the DeltaCare USA plan
Out-of-network services may be more expensive
$1,000 or $1,500 annual maximums on the PPO plans
Delta Dental is the leading provider of dental insurance in the U.S., offering coverage in all states and serving over 80 million Americans. Delta Dental is a not-for-profit organization made up of 39 independent Delta Dental companies. They have an AM Best financial strength rating of A (Excellent).
Delta Dental has contracted with AARP to provide members with special pricing to help seniors fit dental insurance into their budgets, and there are HMO (DeltaCare USA) and PPO (Plan A and B) plans available. The HMO is the cheapest option, followed by the PPO A, and lastly, the PPO B is the most expensive option. The PPO plans allow you to choose any dentist, while the HMO plan utilizes a network of dental facilities.
There is no waiting period on the DeltaCare USA Plan; PPO Plans A and B also have no waiting period for diagnostic and preventive services. There is a six-month waiting period for bleaching on Plan A (not covered on Plan B) and a one-year waiting period for major restorative work, periodontics, prosthodontics, and other treatments. Delta Dental provides limited anesthesia coverage, which is often excluded from other dental policies in certain circumstances.
There is no annual maximum and no deductible on the DeltaCare USA plan. The PPO plans have an annual maximum of $1,000 to $1,500 with deductibles (typically per person per year) ranging from $40 to $90 depending on service and plan.
Why We Chose It: Delta Dental offers plans geared toward seniors either through the AARP and directly on their website. They provide a lot of information and resources for retirees on their site, and they were one of the few insurers we reviewed offering immediate coverage for fillings, denture repair, tooth removal, and root canals in the AARP Plan.
What Does Dental Insurance Typically Exclude?
Exclusions refer to services that are not covered by your dental plan. The most affordable dental insurance plans typically exclude coverage for basic and major services and only cover preventive care such as cleanings. Here are some examples of excluded coverages:
- Basic services like fillings or major services like crowns or bridges
- Cosmetic work
- Natural or alternative treatments like acupuncture
- Some companies limit anesthesia in certain circumstances
- Many companies exclude orthodontics, even on their top-tier plans
- Pain management may be limited or excluded and subject to frequency limits and waiting periods
- Pre-existing conditions (some plans won't cover replacement of teeth missing before your policy began, for example)
Once you reach the annual coverage maximum, you will receive no more coverage, and additional work will be excluded until the next year.
When considering exclusions on dental insurance, remember that you have various choices of coverage. Dental insurance plans vary depending on the provider, with the least expensive plans often providing only very limited preventive or routine services. The benefit level you choose will determine how much coverage you have vs. how much work will be paid out of pocket.
Here is an overview of what each type of coverage is typically defined as.
- Preventive Coverage: Preventive coverage may or may not have a waiting period or deductible. Some plans have a copay. Preventive coverage includes cleanings and most routine care.
- Basic Coverage: Basic coverage is typically for services like simple fillings and simple restorative work. Each company will define this coverage differently.
- Major Coverage: This may include services like root canals, crowns, dentures, and bridges.
How Much Does Dental Insurance Cost for Seniors?
The average cost of dental insurance for seniors can start as low as $20 per month for very basic preventive plans for routine services like cleanings, x-rays, and check-ups. Costs can go up to around $80 a month for full-access coverage, including preventive, basic, and major dental work. Your choice of waiting periods, level of coverage (with copays and deductibles or not), and whether you will use in-network dentists will make a difference in the premium you pay.
Is Paying for Dental Insurance as a Senior Worth It?
Regular preventive care and treatment contribute to helping you maintain a better quality of life. Dental work such as cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, or most dental devices are not covered by Medicare and can be expensive. Finding an affordable dental insurance company is important if you are not prepared to pay these costs out of pocket.
For example, bridgework can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $15,000. Dental insurance with benefit caps may not cover the entire cost but will help offset it. If you anticipate needing dental work, you’ll want to run some numbers to see how much you would anticipate paying with the premiums plus any copays and out-of-pocket costs compared to the cost of the work to determine its overall value to you.
The key is finding a good dental insurance plan that has:
- A high annual maximum (or no annual maximum)
- No waiting periods
- Low to no copays
The cost of not treating dental issues early will result in much higher costs later. Having a basic plan will provide the peace of mind you need to handle things as they come up and avoid dealing with major work down the line.
How We Chose the Dental Insurance Companies
We looked at the top dental insurance providers in the U.S., comparing information from online reviews, prices, financial strength ratings, complaints with regulators, and individual insurer websites and quotes to find the best dental insurance companies for seniors.
We looked for the companies offering the highest annual maximums, no waiting periods, and those that offered a range of coverage options. We investigated which plans work well for a budget or provided flexibility with the least amount of unexpected cost. Companies that rewarded loyalty were also included. We also considered features important to seniors like the continuation of coverage, pre-existing condition coverage, coverage outside the U.S. (or not), and network provider options.
Our goal was to find dental plans that suited various lifestyles and needs, either offering budget plans, full dental plans, or plans with add-ons like vision or hearing aid care, to give you the widest overview and allow you to make an informed decision when choosing the Best Dental Insurance for Seniors.
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