Best Dental Insurance for Seniors

Good oral health is important at any age, and especially as we get older. Even if you’re not having dental problems, dental insurance is a good idea so you can keep up to date on regular checkups and preventative procedures. After all, prevention is better than cure!

Like most kinds of insurance, dental insurance for seniors comes with its own set of restrictions and rules. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you understand what you need to know when looking for dental insurance. We’ve also included comparisons of ten dental plans to help you choose which one is best for you.

What is the best dental insurance for seniors? Read our guide to find out.

Why Older Adults Need Dental Insurance

The cost of dental treatment is one of the top reasons people go for long stretches of time without visiting a dentist, according to the American Dental Association. Getting dental insurance makes it much easier to budget for routine checkups and procedures, and unexpected emergencies such as cracking a tooth or loosing a filling. Insurance means you’re less likely to skip out on routine appointments, which in turn means your teeth have a better chance of staying healthy for longer.

What Does Dental Insurance Cover?

Your exact coverage depends on the plan you choose. However, as a general rule dental insurance for seniors is likely to cover routine checkups and minor procedures such as cleaning, the application of a sealant to prevent cavities, fillings and x rays. Most plans also cover emergency treatment such as care or extraction of a cracked or broken tooth, or care following an accident that damaged your teeth.

However, it’s important to be aware that most plans only cover 100% for small and easy preventative procedures such as check ups and cleaning. Fillings might be covered for 80% – 100% depending on your plan, but major work such as a root canal, crown, or dentures will most likely only be covered up to 50%.

This is important for seniors to know, so you can make plans to cover the rest of your costs if necessary.

Which Dentist Can You See?

The dental plan you choose might affect which dentist you can see. Many plans are managed care plans, where you choose from a list of pre-approved providers who have agreed to offer lower prices. Always check which dentists are covered by your plan and make sure it covers one that you can get to easily and are happy to see.

If you want to stick with your current dentist, ask them what kind of insurance plans they accept, and see if one of those plans is a good option for you. Do be aware that not every dentist accepts insurance.

Choose PPO If Possible.

Many dental plans fall under the umbrella Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO.) These managed care plans let you choose from a list of pre-approved providers.

However, some plans are called Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO), and they’re more restrictive. HMO plans do have lower premiums, so are an option if money is really tight. After all, any coverage is better than having to pay every expense out of pocket. However, do be aware that HMO plans are often much more restrictive regarding both who you can see and which procedures you can have done.

If you can afford it, PPO gives you more flexibility and more treatment options.

What You Need To Know About Your Dental Plan

Before signing up for any dental plan, we strongly recommend making sure you know all of the following information:

• What exactly is covered? Which treatments are paid for completely by the plan, and which ones are only partly covered?
• How much is the partial coverage for each procedure?
• What is the deductible? Most dental insurance plans have a deductible amount that you have to pay for yourself before your insurance kicks in.
• Are health and dental deductibles separate? This is important if you choose a combined medical and dental plan. Medical deductibles are typically much higher than dental, so if an insurer combines both you could be looking at having to pay a hefty amount before you’re allowed to claim for dental procedures.
• What is the cap? Most dental insurance plans have a yearly cap which, after you reach it, you have to pay for your dental care yourself for the rest of the year.
• What will you be charged for office visits?
• Can you choose your own dentist?
• Will your treatment options be limited to the cheapest available treatment, or are you able to choose the best treatment even if it’s a more expensive option?

As with any insurance, we recommend reading the fine print carefully and making sure you know what exactly is covered, how to claim, and how much you will be expected to pay in deductibles or co-pays.

Best Dental Insurance for Seniors

We’ve compared ten of the best dental insurance plans for seniors so you can see for yourself what’s the best plan for you.

1. Aetna

About: Aetna offers a range of dental insurance policies to help keep your teeth in good condition.
Finding a dentist: Aetna members can find a dentist by logging into an online portal to search by area, specialty, and number of miles they’re willing to travel.
Making a claim: Most dentists offer services at a reduced rate, so you pay less at point of service. If you need to submit a claim you can do so; your dentist can also submit a claim for you.
Deductibles: Yes, on some plans.
Copays: Yes, on some plans
Out of network coverage: Depending on your plan you might be entitled to some benefits if you use an out of network dentist. Check your individual plan to be certain.
Restrictions: Usually doesn’t cover crowns or dentures when the teeth were lost before coverage started.
Extension of benefits: In some cases, Aetna will cover continuation of treatment that started before the plan began, such as getting dentures when the impression was taken before coverage started. (Amie, I mentioned this as Aetna was the first provider I looked at and they made a point of mentioning that some procedures are covered even if they started before the plan began. However none of the other providers mention this so this might not work as a bullet point for each one. Perhaps I could simply mention it in the about section?)
Cost: The cost of dental care and services provided under an Aetna dental policy varies, depending on the plan and other factors. The Dental Maintenance Organization (DMO) offers no annual deductibles and no annual maximum, while costs vary under the Dental Indemnity Plan.

Is Aetna your Medicare Advantage provider? Check with your plan to determine your costs if you have dental coverage.

Do you have Aetna Medicaid? There are 14 states that offer Aetna Medicaid for low-income seniors eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. 

The Aetna Vital Savings dental discount card offers coverage starting at less than $10.00 a month.

2. Aflac

About: Aflac aims to offer dental insurance with a quick and painless claim process.
Finding a dentist:People with the AFLAC dental coverage have the ability to visit any dentist. There are no restrictions, likely considered a perk for seniors considering an AFLAC policy with dental coverage. Log onto the AFLAC site to learn more information about finding a dentist and other coverage information.
Making a claim: You can mail, fax, call, or file your claim electronically.
Deductibles: No
Copays: AFLAC offers dental coverage with no co-pays mentioned on the site.
Out of network coverage: No need to worry about this, as Aflac lets you work with a dentist of your choosing.
Restrictions: AFLAC restrictions include the fact that they do not cover loss caused by or resulting from a procedure not covered on the AFLAC Schedule of Dental Procedures. The company does not cover procedures not recommended by a dentist, not required for preservation or restoration of oral health. They pay no benefits replacement of missing teeth occurring prior to the effective date of coverage. See the AFLAC Schedule of Dental Procedures for further restrictions or contact an AFLAC agent.
Extension of benefits: Unknown
Cost: AFLAC provides dental coverage with no out-of-pocket expenses, no deductibles or pre-certifications.

3. Cigna

About: Cigna offers affordable dental coverage with no deductibles or copays for routine preventative treatments. Patients can also compare dentist scores for affordability and quality of treatment.
Finding a dentist: Customers can search a nationwide network of over 89,000 dentists.
Making a claim: File a claim for Cigna dental care under your eligible dental care plan through three easy steps. 1)Go to the site and download the claim form. 2)Print and complete the claim form. 3)Mail your completed claim form to the dental plan claims office at Cigna Dental, P.O. Box 188037, Chattanooga Tennessee, 37422.
Deductibles: No deductibles on routine preventative treatments such as cleaning, check ups, and routine x rays. Deductibles are payable on restorative work.
Copays: No copays on routine preventative treatments such as cleaning, check ups, and routine x rays. Copays are payable on restorative work. (I think this is right – there wasn’t a ton of info on their site.)
Out of network coverage: Cigna, like may dental and health care insurance companies, warns that you potentially pay more for receiving care at an out-of-network provider. Seniors that stay within the more than 90,000 in-network dentists likely pay less for their dental care.
Restrictions: Restrictions under Cigna’s dental plans include waiting periods for most services. Waiting times vary according to specific services. There are also specific time restrictions on some services.
Extension of benefits: Unknown
Cost: Plans typically range from $19 – $35 per person monthly, depending on your plan. Call direct for a proper quote.

4. Guardian Dental

About: Guardian Dental offers both PPO and HMO dental plans to help make dental treatment affordable for families and individuals.
Finding a dentist: You can enter your zip code on the website to find the closest Guardian dentist for your needs.
Making a claim: So long as you use an in-network dentist, you don’t have to do anything to make a claim. Your dentist will take care of the claim and all of the paperwork.
Deductibles: Yes, on some plans.
Copays: Yes, on some plans.
Out of network coverage: Guardian might pay a fixed amount towards the cost of some procedures by out of network dentists on their PPO plan. No payments are made towards out of network treatment on their HMO plan.
Restrictions: Guardian dental plans have a waiting period ranging from no wait for preventive dental care to 12 months for major services such as root canals and implants. Seniors visiting an out-of-network dentist potentially pay full costs for dental care and procedures. You receive information on specific exclusions and limitations in your Full Plan Summary.
Extension of benefits: Unknown
Cost: Costs of Guardian dental plans vary according to plan. The Guardian Dental Advantage Silver, Gold, and Bronze PPO plans have an annual deductible and annual year maximum coverage amount. Guardian Dental Managed DentalGuard (DMHO) plans have no deductible or benefit year maximum amount.

5. AARP (Administered by Delta Dental Insurance)

About: All AARP members are guaranteed acceptance to Delta Dental’s AARP plan. Members can choose from a range of network dentists. Both PPO and HMO plans are available.
Finding a dentist: Visit the AARP Delta Dental site and choose your state to see which plans are available in your area.
Making a claim: If you visit an in-network dentist, the dentist usually files the claim. If you visit an out-of-network dentist, you face potentially filing the claim yourself. Download the claim form for your specific dental plan, then complete and mail it, along with the dentist’s Statement of Treatment or detailed receipt to the claims address for your plan.
Deductibles: Yes, on some plans.
Copays: Yes, on some plans.
Out of network coverage: Yes, but costs may be significantly higher than if using an in-network dentist. You will also need to pay upfront and then file a claim yourself after.
Restrictions: Unknown
Extension of benefits: Unknown
Cost: Costs of dental plans vary, according to the specific plan. Click on your state to view available plans and costs in your area, including cost of deductibles and maximum coverage amounts.

6. Delta Dental

About: As well as offering plans to AARP members, Delta Dental also offers insurance to individuals. Users can choose any dentist, but will save more when using a Delta network dentist. Delta offers both PPO and HMO plans.
Finding a dentist: Delta has an online portal where you can search for dentists in your area.
Making a claim: Download a form and file by post.
Deductibles: Yes, on some plans.
Copays: Yes, on some plans.
Out of network coverage: Yes, but costs may be significantly higher than if using an in-network dentist.
Restrictions: Delta Dental states that dental plans do not always cover every procedure. Check with your specific plan for limitations and exclusions. Some limitations include those related to time and frequency of specific services or procedures.
Extension of benefits: Unknown
Cost: Cost of Delta Dental plans vary with the individual plan. Factors possibly include whether you have individual or family coverage, and your choice of the DentalCare USA plan or the Delta Dental PPO plan.

7. Metlife

About: Metlife offers a PPO dental insurance program, with an HMO option in the works. Customers can choose to use any dentist even if they’re not in-network (though this might attract higher costs.)
Finding a dentist: Use Metlife’s online portal to search for a dentist in your area.
Making a claim: You can file a paper claim in the mail, or ask whether your dentist can file on your behalf (many in-network dentists can.)
Deductibles: Yes
Copays: Some plans may require a copay.
Out of network coverage: Yes, but costs may be significantly higher than if using an in-network dentist.
Restrictions: Unknown
Extension of benefits: Unknown
Cost: Costs vary according to plan. Program-covered services also vary, dependent upon whether you choose the PPO high, medium or low option benefit plan.

8. United Healthcare

About: United Healthcare offers affordable dental insurance at all ages, with no deductibles or waiting periods on preventative procedures.
Finding a dentist: Search United Healthcare’s directory of dentists to find one in your area.
Making a claim: United Healthcare pay dentists directly, so you don’t need to file a claim.
Deductibles: Yes, on some plans.
Copays:Yes, on some plans.
Out of network coverage: United Healthcare offers out-of-network coverage, but at greater cost. Stay in-network for greater savings.
Restrictions: There is no waiting period for preventive care. There are waiting periods of up to 12 months for major services. There are also annual maximums limitations.Extension of benefits: Not clear
Cost: Costs vary according to the plan you choose for your United Healthcare Dental coverage. Potential costs include premiums, co-pays, deductibles and co-insurance.

9. Solstice

About: Solstice offers both PPO and HMO dental insurance options. They’re unusual in that their HMO plans still allow customers to use any of the Solstice in-network dentists. Most HMO plans more tightly restrict which dentist customers can see. This flexibility could mean shorter waiting times as compared to most HMO plans.
Finding a dentist: Use Solstice’s online portal to search for a provider in your area.
Making a claim: Not clear from site.
Deductibles: Yes, on some plans.
Copays: Yes, on some plans.
Out of network coverage: Solstice offers several plans, including some that allow for the option to see any Solstice dentist. Other plans require assignment to a primary care dentist.
Restrictions: Restrictions include wait times under some plans, and the fee-for-service plan with its own structured fee limitations. Some plans possibly exclude coverage for oral surgery.
Extension of benefits: Unknown
Cost: Costs vary with the type of Solstice dental plan. Some options include the pre-paid plan, premiums, co-payments and other fees paid under the DMHO plan and fee-for-service costs.

10. Renaissance Dental Insurance

About: Renaissance Dental offers PPO plans with more than 200,000 participating dental providers in their network.
Finding a dentist: Renaissance offers an online portal where you can search for participating dentists in your area.
Making a claim: Your dentist can file the claim for you, which means less paperwork for you!
Deductibles: Yes – amount varies by plan.
Copays: Members receive a Pre-treatment Estimate for each covered service. The Pre-Treatment Estimate explains any potential co-pays required by a member.
Out of network coverage: Unknown
Restrictions: Unknown
Extension of benefits: Unknown
Cost: Costs vary according to your plan. This includes the cost of deductibles, co-pays, annual maximum benefit coverage and any other costs detailed in your Explanation of Benefits.

Regular dental care is so important as we get older. Maintaining good oral health is a vital part of keeping ourselves healthy as we age, and the only way to do that is with regular dental visits, and treatments as needed.

Dental insurance reduces the amount you need to pay for dental care, helping you keep your smile healthy and happy for longer. Always read the fine print before signing up to a dental plan, and make sure you understand which treatments are covered, how much coverage you get a year, and how much you’ll be expected to pay in deductibles or copays.