Dental Insurance Reviews

For whatever reason, Medicare and many health insurance policies do not include dental insurance, and if they do, they’re typically very limited to basic services: cleanings, x-rays, extractions; you get the picture. But for someone who wants more coverage, they might want to shell out some money for dental insurance. With dental care costs running up to thousands of dollars, dental insurance can save you money in the long-run, while ensuring that you get the care you need.

Since I’ve worked with older adults for so long, I am familiar with the ins and outs of dental insurance for those 65 and up.  In this article, I’m sharing my knowledge on how to look for a dental insurance plan and what is fair to pay. Let’s get started!

Why Do I Need Dental Insurance?

Maybe you’re one of those lucky people who have never had a cavity, and maybe you’re obsessed with flossing after every meal. Despite this, I recommend getting dental insurance if you can afford it. You may not know this, but older adults need dental care more than many other age groups. Consider the following statistics:

Pro Tip: Preventative care is incredibly important, as it could save you from expensive and painful procedures down the line. Be sure to go in for a cleaning at least once or twice a year, as well as brush and floss daily.

What Dental Insurance Can Cover

There are a number of procedures that dental insurance can cover, although I should note that not all policies cover absolutely everything. Despite this, here are some common areas that dental insurance covers along with what procedures they include:

How Much Does Dental Work Cost Without Insurance?

The fact is that dental care is expensive; even a simple cleaning can cost upwards of $200. Getting a cavity filled in can cost around $300, while getting braces or dentures can cost thousands. In short, dental plans could more than pay for themselves, but where do you start?

The Cost of Dental Work
The Cost of Dental Work

Dental Plans

When I Googled “dental insurance”, I got over 428 million results in less than a second, which is why I’m writing this article in the first place. The first step to choosing a dental insurance policy is simply to learn what types of plans are available. Here are your options, according to the American Dental Association:

I’m very lucky to get dental insurance from my husband’s employer in the form of a PPO plan. That means that when I went to an in-network dentist for this year’s cleaning, I only paid a small copay, while the insurance company covered the rest. But if you’re not so fortunate, it’s important to know what qualities to look for in a dental insurance policy.

What To Look For In Dental Insurance

Never is reading the fine print more important than when choosing insurance, although long contracts can be overwhelming to the average person not fluent in legalese. Here are some key components to keep in mind when choosing a dental insurance plan or company:

My Advice: Don’t just choose a dentist based on who’s closest to you or who came first on the in-network list. Research each dentist beforehand to make sure they have good reputations; I recommend checking out Yelp.

Choosing a dental insurance policy can be overwhelming, especially if you’re dealing with a slick salesperson. To learn more about what you’re up against, check out this insurance glossary from the United States Office of Personnel Management. I found it really helpful to cross-reference when I was reading about my insurance policy.

Dental Insurance Costs: The Bottom Line

It’s hard to say exactly how much I’ve spent monthly and yearly on dental insurance. On average, plans sponsored by employers cost anywhere between $14 and $30.50 a month, or if I look at it annually, $169 to $366 a year. But for those that lack employer-sponsored dental insurance, the policies tend to cost around $15 more a month, which could bring the total monthly cost all the way up to $46 and the total yearly cost all the way up to about $552.

Of course, the amount of money I spend on my teeth this year isn’t fully covered by that monthly fee, as companies commonly cover only 80% of work like fillings and half of major work like crowns, with only preventative care covered 100%. So really, the monthly or annual cost will also depend on the procedures you get.

What If I Can’t Afford Dental Insurance?

If those costs seem out of reach, there are a couple of insurance programs that the government provides including Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare applies to everyone in the United States ages 65 and up or those who have “specific disabilities”. However, Medicare will only pay for dental procedures that are part of an already covered procedure or extractions related to neoplastic diseases of the jaw. While it will pay for oral examinations, it won’t pay for routine treatment. Unfortunately, this policy has not been changed since 1980.

Medicaid, on the other hand, is a health insurance program run by the state rather than the federal government. In some cases, individuals and families could be eligible for dental benefits; however, this will differ on a state by state basis. To see if you can qualify, contact your state’s Medicaid agency. From there, you’ll be given a list of dentists in your area who accept Medicaid.

Best Dental Insurance: My Top Picks

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

Okay, so now that you’re an expert on what to look for in a dental insurance policy and why you need it in the first place, it’s time to actually choose a company to work with. Since I’ve reviewed  a lot of different plans, I want to share my favorite companies that offer dental insurance:

FYI: If one of your beneficiaries needs orthodontia or may need it in the future, check out Delta Dental, which has plans that cover it.

Be sure to read my reviews before signing up for an insurance policy, while giving your contract a thorough read as well, of course.

Recap

Hopefully, my expertise will help you to choose a dental insurance plan that works for you and your family. Given older adults’ susceptibility to dental issues and the exorbitant costs of dental work without insurance, if you can afford dental insurance, it’s definitely your best bet. To explore your options, check out my “best of” lists, including the best dental insurance plans that include vision insurance, or the most affordable options. Although researching dental insurance certainly isn’t the most fun way to spend a day, your teeth will thank you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Written By
Amie Clark

Amie has been writing about senior care products and services for the last decade. She is particularly passionate about new technologies that help improve the quality of life for seniors and their families. Seeing her parents and grandparents age made Amie ask herself, “Would this be good enough for my loved ones?” In her spare time, Amie enjoys outdoor adventures and spontaneous road trips. Learn more about Amie here