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Dental insurance

Dental insurance explained

Collette Shackleton
Written by  Collette Shackleton
Saarrah Mussa
Reviewed by  Saarrah Mussa
Updated: 22 May 2024

Visiting the dentist can be quite expensive, which is what makes choosing the right dental cover essential. In this guide, we discuss everything you need to know about dental insurance.

This guide includes information about a product we do not currently offer at MoneySuperMarket. We do hope you find the information useful, and consider comparing health insurance quotes to suit your circumstances.

What is dental insurance?

Dental insurance provides cover for NHS and private dental treatments and emergencies. When you take out dental insurance, you pay for a policy and if you need to make a claim, your insurance provider helps cover the cost of your treatment.

How does dental insurance work?

You can compare dental insurance policies online and choose the best option for your needs. Once you've taken out dental insurance, you'll pay a monthly amount to your insurer in exchange for cover. You can get dental insurance for NHS-only, or NHS and private dentists and treatment.

You pay your dentist for your treatment as normal first, then claim the money back from your dental insurance provider.

What types of dental insurance cover are available?

There are various types of cover to choose from, including:

NHS-only dental treatment policies

NHS-only dental insurance will only cover you for the cost of any NHS treatments. If your teeth are in generally good condition and you only usually have a routine check-up, it's worth considering whether this is worth taking out.

As an alternative, you could put aside some money each month in case you require any expensive or emergency treatment.

NHS and private dental treatment policies

If you require more cover, you can invest in NHS and private dental insurance. These types of policies only pay a contribution towards treatment, rather than the full cost. Make sure you check the policy documents and ensure you're happy with the terms before you take out this type of cover.

Dental payment plans

Dental payment plans are different to dental insurance policies, and are often sold by your dental practice. Your dentist will examine your teeth and will then set a monthly fixed fee based on your oral health and dental history.

These are an effective way to spread the cost of your treatment throughout the year, so you don't have to worry about the cost of a filling or hygiene appointment up front. However, they might not offer the best value for money.

If you're worried about not being able to afford your treatment, consider using a 0% purchase credit card to help cover any costs while your claim is being processed. Just make sure you keep on top of your payments by paying the minimum balance each month, and the full amount before the 0% period ends.

What are the benefits of having dental insurance?

There are several benefits to having dental insurance, including:

  • It helps cover the cost of routine dental care check-ups

  • Dental insurance also covers any emergency or necessary treatment like dental cavities or a broken tooth

  • Having dental insurance can help you budget for any upcoming treatments

  • It alleviates the cost of expensive dental treatments

  • Dental insurance policies can be relatively low in price compared to other types of health insurance, depending on your specific requirements

How much does dental insurance typically cost?

According to recent data from Money Saving Expert, the average person can expect to pay around £10 a month for dental insurance. This depends on certain factors such as the level of cover you choose, where you live, and whether you select NHS or private treatments.

What types of dental procedures and treatments are typically covered by dental insurance?

Most dental health policies cover the following:

  • Routine dental treatments: such as check-ups, X-rays, and scale and polish

  • Dental treatment: including fillings, root canals, extractions, crowns, bridgework, and dentures

  • Emergency dental treatment: Urgent and unforeseen treatments, plus it covers inconveniences such as the inability to eat, and the cost of conditions that post a risk to your general health, e.g. repair of dentures and X-rays

  • Dental injury: treatment that's needed as a result external impact (excluding contact sports)

  • Oral cancer treatment: cover for primary cancer of the oral cavity from the lips to the back of the tongue (excluding tonsils and salivary glands)

Does dental insurance cover orthodontic treatments like braces?

Not all dental insurance providers will cover orthodontics. Some child health insurance policies may agree to cover these costs if you or your child are under a certain age. Others may only cover traditional metal orthodontics and if they are seen as a medical necessity rather than for aesthetic purposes.

It's important to check your policy documents to see if your insurer will cover this or not.

How does dental insurance handle emergency dental care?

If you have an emergency dental issue, you will have to pay for this upfront and submit a claim to your insurer with all the relevant paperwork and evidence.

Does dental insurance cover cosmetic dentistry procedures?

Some dental insurance policies exclude purely cosmetic treatments, like veneers or teeth whitening. Check your terms before committing to any cosmetic treatment, as you may not be able to claim the money back.

Are there any limitations or exclusions in dental insurance policies?

Any limitations and exclusions will vary per insurance provider, but common exclusions are:

  1. Pre-existing dental conditions: most policies won't cover these, so you can't take out dental insurance to try and fix a problem you're already aware of

  2. Time limits for treatments: most insurers will have a time restriction that stops you from claiming within a certain time after taking out your policy, often one to three months

  3. Dental insurance excess: some policies might also have an excess, where you're required to pay towards your treatment e.g. if your excess is £50 and your treatment is £200, your insurer would pay you back £150 and you pay £50. Some policies will pay the full cost of routine treatment but ask that you contribute to emergency dental procedures and more expensive treatments

  4. Age limits: some policies have age limits, which are often people aged 18-65

  5. Treatment cost limits: many insurers have a set annual limit for treatment, usually between £500-£1,000. Once you reach this amount, you won't be able to claim for any further treatment

  6. Dental care: dental care is most often excluded from health insurance policies, although some might include it as an optional extra for an additional cost

What factors should be considered when choosing dental insurance?

When looking at dental insurance, it's important to figure out what you require from a policy. You should consider whether you would like an NHS-only policy, or include private care too.

Would you like to pay an excess? Do you have regular treatment or pre-existing conditions? All of this will affect the cost of your policy.

If you make regular claims on your policy it's worth noting that this will increase the cost of your premiums year on year. Insurers might also require that you have had a recent check up, to avoid you making a claim on a pre-existing issue.

Consider whether it's worth taking out dental insurance altogether. If you think you’ll only need routine check-ups, you might want to think about how much insurance would cost you spread over a year in comparison.

Perhaps you could put some money away each month to self-insure, in case you need more expensive treatment.

Compare health insurance with MoneySuperMarket

Finding a cheaper deal on private health insurance for you and your family is easier when you compare quotes online. With MoneySuperMarket, all you need to do is tell us a little about yourself and your lifestyle and we’ll do the hard work for you.

By comparing different policies, you can gauge what level of cover suits your needs and budget. After submitting your details, you'll receive estimates for various insurance plans. An expert will then reach out to discuss your options further, helping you secure the best policy at the most affordable price.

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