Dental insurance

We’ve checked out how dental insurance works to help you decide if protecting your pearly whites will offer you good value for money.

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A trip to the dentist can leave you and your pocket feeling a little fragile. But there are options to ensure your teeth stay healthy so you’re not left out of pocket following a dental emergency. We’ve looked into dental insurance to discover what it costs and what it covers.

Seeing a dentist in the UK

Unlike a visit to a National Health Service (NHS) doctor, which won’t cost you a penny, you will have to pay when you visit an NHS dentist in the UK. The NHS provides all the treatment, including emergency treatment, that you might need to ensure your teeth stay healthy. However, cosmetic treatment such as teeth whitening is not included.

There are three bands connected to NHS dental charges in England and Wales. These are:

  • Band 1. This is the lowest fee payable and covers you for a dental check-up and advice. It can also cover a basic scale and polish, X-rays or setting out a plan for further treatment.
  • Band 2. This is the mid-price fee payable and covers treatment from Band 1 as well as fillings, teeth extractions or root canal treatment.
  • Band 3. This is the highest fee payable and covers treatment from Band 1 and 2 in addition to fitting crowns, dentures or bridges as well as covering other complex procedures.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, people requiring dental treatment are responsible for paying up to 80% of the dental fee per treatment, up to a maximum of £384.

Many NHS dentists can provide most NHS dental treatments but might also offer some private treatments as well. This can be as simple as offering you the choice between an amalgam filling, which is a standard NHS filling (Band 1) or a white porcelain filling, which is specifically a private treatment and likely to set you back even more money. As with other private dental treatment, the costs will be higher, especially if there’s a great deal of treatment planned.

What is included in dental insurance?

Although it tends to be cheaper to be seen and treated by an NHS dentist rather than a private dentist, your bill can, nevertheless, still be a kick in the teeth.

Depending on the type of policy you choose, dental insurance will help you cover some or all of the dental treatment carried out, up to a certain sum of money, as specified in the policy document.

There are two types of dental insurance usually on offer:

  • Dental insurance that covers NHS treatment. This might be suitable for those who might only require check-ups or treatment such as a filling or root canal.
  • Dental insurance that partially covers private treatment. This might be suitable for those who require increased or regular dental work carried out by a private dentist.

Choosing the right type of policy for your needs means assessing how healthy your teeth are and looking at whether you’re likely to require a lot of dental work in the future.

While some dental insurance policies will cover the full cost of treatment, other policies may only make a contribution towards the treatment so always shop around and be sure to check that the cover is right for your needs.

What is not included in dental insurance?

The exclusions to a dental insurance policy will differ from policy to policy. Some of the more common exclusions may include:

  • Cosmetic dental work. Treatments such as fitting veneers or having teeth whitened are seen as specifically cosmetic and as such, are highly unlikely to be covered by dental insurance.
  • Pre-existing dental conditions. If previous dental records show that you require a specific treatment, you will be unlikely to claim for this treatment on a new dental insurance policy.
  • Time restrictions. Insurers will usually set a time limit on when you’re able to make your first claim. This is to stop people with a pre-existing dental condition from taking out a new policy and trying to claim for a treatment that they already know they will need.
  • Age restrictions. While some policies will cover people regardless of age, certain policies may only cover people aged between 18 and 65.
  • Compulsory dental excess. Certain policies may have an excess for treatment, that you would be responsible for paying.

Be sure to shop around and compare policies in order to select the best cover for your needs.

How does dental insurance work?

There are several types of dental insurance on the market but essentially, they should all cover, to some degree, the cost of either NHS or private dental treatment. Just as other insurance policies work, a dental insurance policy will see you pay for premiums on a monthly or annual basis. Then, in the event of requiring dental treatment, you would receive a payout, up to a certain amount, for the treatment needed.

While some policies offer only basic dental care, other policies can be more comprehensive. There may even be flexible policies that can also be tailored with extra cover to suit your specific needs as required.

How much does dental insurance cost?

How much your dental insurance plan will set you back depends on a number of factors such as the type of cover and the level of cover you choose. An insurer is also likely to set your premium on personal information such as your age as well as your general oral hygiene.

Do your research to look at a range of policies and find out what each has to offer before committing to one plan.

Benefits of dental insurance

Dental insurance can offer many benefits, if you think you’ll need regular dental treatment. Some of these benefits can include:

  • Peace of mind against being left out of pocket for expensive treatment
  • Cover for emergency dental treatment, often including emergency treatment while overseas
  • Good value for money if you expect you’ll need a lot of dental work in the future
  • One-off cover for oral cancer

What to look for in a dental insurance plan

Finding the best dental insurance policy will very much depend on your own oral hygiene as what might work for you might not work for someone else.

Dental insurance will differ depending on the type of policy, the level of cover offered and the provider that is offering it.

It’s worth remembering to take some time to compare policies and understand exactly what is covered in order to find a plan that matches your requirements.

Frequently asked questions

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