If you’re concerned about the rising costs of dental care and want to ensure you can maintain good oral health without breaking the bank, it’s time to consider dental insurance. While your regular health insurance may not cover dental treatment, a stand-alone dental plan can help you save a significant amount of money on routine care as well as more complex procedures.
Dental insurance can greatly reduce your out-of-pocket expenses, especially for costly restorative work like crowns, fillings, implants, and braces. To help you navigate through the various options available, we’ve compiled a list of the best dental insurance plans for 2022. Whether you need coverage for important work, braces, affordable care, or minimal waiting periods, we’ve got you covered.
Our Top Picks for the Best Dental Insurance Plans
Guardian Direct: Best for Essential Work
If you’re looking for a plan that covers important dental procedures, Guardian Direct is your best bet. With 50% coverage on major work for all policies (except the preventive-only plan), Guardian Direct stands out from the rest. Their core plan, starting at just $23.62, includes coverage for procedures like crowns, oral surgery, implants, and dentures. The annual maximum limits range from $500 to $1,000, and dental implants have a separate lifetime maximum of $700. They also offer additional plans with increased coverage and benefits like orthodontia and teeth whitening.
Delta Dental: Best for Braces
Delta Dental is an excellent choice for families and individuals in need of orthodontic care. Unlike many other providers, Delta Dental extends orthodontic benefits to children and adults aged 19 and above. Their plans offer a range of coverage options, including the Delta PPO Premium plan that covers up to 100% of routine care and 50% of orthodontic treatment, with a lifetime maximum of $1,500. For those seeking low-cost options, the DeltacareUSA plan provides fixed copay rates with no deductibles or annual limits, making it an ideal choice for residents of California.
Humana: Best for Plan Options
Humana Dental offers a wide range of plan options to suit different needs and budgets. Their six dental plans include four PPO policies with both in-network and out-of-network coverage, a dental savings plan, and a value HMO plan. From the Preventive Value PPO plan, which is great for low-cost preventive care, to the Loyalty Plus PPO plan that offers comprehensive coverage with no waiting periods, Humana has something for everyone. Their plans cover preventive, basic, and major procedures, with increasing benefits each year.
DentaQuest: Best for Affordable Care
With its affordable prices, comprehensive coverage, and a focus on preventive care, DentaQuest is an excellent choice for those looking for budget-friendly dental insurance. Their Personal Dental Plus plan, starting at less than $15 a month, covers 100% of preventive services, 50% of basic care, and 30% of major procedures. They also offer additional plans with higher benefit limits and coverage for orthodontics. Just keep in mind that plan availability may vary by state.
Spirit Dental: Best for No Waiting Periods
Spirit Dental is one of the few providers that waive waiting periods on all their dental policies, including major and restorative work. They offer two groups of plans: network and choice. Network plans offer the best rates with in-network providers, while choice plans provide flexibility in choosing any preferred provider without network restrictions. Their Pinnacle Choice and Pinnacle Network plans even offer a calendar year annual maximum of up to $5,000, making them an excellent choice for those in need of extensive procedures like implants or dentures.
UnitedHealthcare Dental: Best for Short Waiting Periods
UnitedHealthcare Dental stands out for its two plans with short four-month waiting periods for basic dental care. The Essential plan, starting at $24, covers preventive care from day one, increasing to 100% coverage in the second year. The Essential Preferred plan adds 15% coverage for major work with a six-month waiting period. Both plans come with competitive premium rates and industry-standard payment limits.
Cigna: Best for National Coverage
If you’re looking for nationwide coverage, Cigna is your top choice. With a provider network spanning over 300,000 locations, Cigna offers extensive coverage options in all 50 states. They offer two dental insurance plans, Cigna Dental Prevent and Cigna Dental 1000, both covering preventive care, basic services, and major work. The annual maximum limits range from $1,000 to $1,500, and the Cigna Dental 1500 plan even includes coverage for orthodontics.
Other Dental Insurance Plans to Consider
While the above providers are our top picks, there are other dental insurance options worth considering. These include:
MetLife offers five dental insurance options, including affordable HMO policies with fixed copay rates and PPO policies for in-network and out-of-network coverage. Their most comprehensive policy, PPO High, has an annual payment limit of $2,000 and covers 100% of preventive care, 80% of basic procedures, and 50% of major work.
Smart Health Dental Insurance
Smart Health Dental Insurance provides two dental insurance policies, Preventive PPO and Elevated Comprehensive, as well as a dental discount plan. The Preventive PPO plan covers 100% of preventive procedures and 50%-80% of basic services, while the Elevated Comprehensive plan offers additional coverage for major services. However, the initial annual benefit is only $750, which is lower compared to similar policies from other providers.
Ameritas offers three policies with comprehensive coverage and in-network and out-of-network options. Their plans include increasing annual payment limits and competitive rates. However, their most affordable plan has a maximum annual benefit of $750, while others from different providers have higher limits.
Physicians Mutual dental plans include over 350 preventive, basic, and major dental procedures with a provider of your choice. Every plan offers coverage without annual maximum limits, deductibles, or network requirements, making it a flexible option for dental care.
Aflac’s supplemental dental plans are designed to fill gaps in your existing health or dental insurance coverage. They offer fixed amounts for specific treatments or procedures listed in the schedule of benefits. While coverage details are not readily available on their website, you can contact an agent by phone to get a quote.
1Dental offers a unique approach to dental care through their discount dental membership program. By negotiating discounted rates with participating providers, they pass on the savings to their members. With two membership plans available, you can access dental care at reduced costs without waiting periods, exclusions, annual limits, or deductibles.
DentalPlans.com is a marketplace that offers both discount dental plans and dental insurance options. Simply enter your ZIP code to discover various dental plan options from reputable providers like Aetna, Humana, Delta, and Renaissance Dental. Dental savings plans purchased through DentalPlans.com are also eligible for a 30-day money-back guarantee, although a non-refundable registration fee of $20 applies.
The Dental Insurance Guide
If you’re still unsure of how dental insurance works or what options are available in the market, this section will provide you with all the information you need. We’ll cover topics such as coverage benefits, types of dental plans, costs of dental procedures, and how to choose the right dental insurance provider.
How Does Dental Insurance Work?
Dental insurance policies typically cover the cost of routine checkups, cleanings, and other dental restoration work like fillings, implants, and crowns. Providers are regulated at the state level, meaning plan availability, benefits, and rates can vary from state to state.
Dental Coverage Benefits
Dental insurance companies categorize coverage benefits into three main categories: preventive care, basic or routine care, and major procedures. Preventive care includes checkups, sealants, and x-rays, often with no waiting periods or deductibles. Basic care refers to fillings, non-routine x-rays, denture repairs, and extractions, usually with an 80% coverage rate and a requirement to meet the policy’s deductible. Major procedures encompass root canals, gum disease treatment, surgical extractions, dentures, and implants, with coverage typically capped at 50% after meeting the deductible. Orthodontic treatment is often considered a separate category, with coverage typically limited to 50% regardless of the patient’s age.
Dental Coverage Exclusions
Dental insurance policies may have exclusions for pre-existing conditions, such as congenitally missing teeth. This means that unless those missing teeth are a result of an accident or illness, the plan will not cover implants or bridges to replace them.
Insurers may impose waiting periods for certain services, typically ranging from 0 months for preventive care to 3-6 months for basic procedures and 12-24 months for major services. While some dental plans offer no waiting periods for basic and major services, these plans tend to be more expensive, and coverage may start small and increase each year.
Types of Dental Insurance Plans
The three main types of dental plans in the market are dental preferred provider organization (DPPO or PPO) plans, dental health maintenance organization (DHMO or HMO) plans, and fee-for-service plans. DPPO plans offer more flexibility in choosing providers, while DHMO plans work within a network of dental providers. Fee-for-service plans provide coverage for eligible services at a pre-determined rate, and dental discount plans offer discounted rates for dental services.
How Much Does Dental Insurance Cost?
Dental plan premiums range from $17 to $96, depending on the type of plan, coverage level, and state of residence. The lowest premium plans often cover only preventive procedures, with limited coverage for basic and major services. On the other hand, higher premium plans may offer shorter or no waiting periods, higher annual limits, and comprehensive coverage for preventive, basic, and major work. When comparing plans, it’s important to estimate your total annual dental expenses and compare them to the cost of the insurance and the benefits provided.
Additional Costs to Consider
In addition to premiums, there are other costs to consider when evaluating dental insurance plans. These include deductibles, coinsurance, copayments, and annual maximum limits. Deductibles are the amount you pay before your insurance coverage kicks in. Coinsurance refers to the portion of dental care costs that you must pay out of pocket after meeting the deductible. Copayments are fixed fees paid for specific services or products, and annual maximum limits set the highest dollar amount that the provider will pay for dental care in a calendar year.
How to Get Dental Insurance
Most people have access to dental insurance through their employer. However, if you’re uninsured or underinsured, you can purchase a stand-alone policy directly from an insurance company or through a marketplace. When choosing a dental insurance provider, it’s important to identify your dental needs, review the different types of plans available, see what plans are available in your state, compare cost and value, and verify providers with regulatory agencies.
How We Chose the Best Dental Insurance Plans for 2022
To determine the best dental insurance plans for 2022, we considered coverage benefits for preventive, basic, and major services. We looked at annual maximum limits, premium rates, multiple plan options, and customer satisfaction ratings. While customer satisfaction data was limited, we included available information to provide a comprehensive overview.
Finding the right dental insurance plan can be a daunting task, but with our guide, you’ll have all the information you need to make an informed decision. Whether you’re looking for coverage for important work, braces, affordable care, or minimal waiting periods, there’s a dental insurance plan out there that’s perfect for you. Don’t delay—start exploring your options and prioritize your oral health today!