Dental health is often overlooked, with consumers typically focusing on medical insurance and neglecting to buy similar cover for their teeth. But dental disease is all too common and is increasingly being linked to other medical conditions such as heart disease, making it even more imperative that you have the right type of dental plan in place.

How does dental insurance work?

couple smiling with white teeth

Whereas medical insurance typically provides cover for the diagnosis and treatment of existing illnesses, dental insurance focuses largely on preventive care. Of course, it helps to cover the cost of treatment as well, but the key aim of dental insurance is to reduce the risk of dental disease developing in the first place.

When you buy dental insurance, you can expect to receive regular preventive care, including thorough examinations to check for any signs of disease and decay, regular x-rays to detect cavities, professional teeth cleaning and topical fluoride treatments.

What else does dental insurance cover?

In addition to providing preventive services that help to reduce your risk of dental disease, dental insurance plans typically cover a range of routine treatments. The exact definitions vary from policy to policy, but may generally be expected to include fillings, crowns, root canal treatments, removal of tooth nerves, tooth extractions, and repair work to existing dentures and bridges.

You may also get some cover for major dental work – such as removal of impacted teeth and orthodontic treatments – but most dental insurance plans only provide limited cover for this type of dental care.

Things to consider when buying dental insurance

When buying dental insurance, it’s important to compare dental plans to make sure you choose one that suits your individual needs. You should also read all of the small print so that you understand exactly what is – and isn’t – covered by your policy before signing on the dotted line.

Here are a few suggestions of things to check when considering dental insurance quotes:

  • dental shield

    Find out whether you can choose your own dentist or are required to select a dentist from a list provided by the dental insurance provider.

  • Check to see how much you will pay when you visit the dentist. Dental insurance plans differ with respect to the proportion of the fee that is paid by the patient.

  • Make sure you understand which treatments are covered by the dental plan and which will require partial or full payment by you as the patient.

  • Take a look at your medical insurance. You may find there is some degree of overlap and that you don’t need to purchase certain aspects of dental insurance.

  • Find out whether or not the dental plan you are considering limits your benefits by the number of procedures or by cost in any given year.

  • Check the extent of emergency treatment that is covered by the policy.

  • Read the policy documentation to see whether or not it allows referrals to specialists and, if so, whether you would have any choice.


Once you have found an affordable dental insurance policy, make sure you get the most out of it. Use whatever preventive services are provided under the scheme to help reduce your chances of developing dental disease in the future.