Many of us attend yearly dental check-ups and may need small bits of dental work now and then. Others may experience a dental emergency, requiring urgent work.

Although lots of these scenarios are partially covered by the NHS, there are often still fees to pay. Dental insurance is a type of cover that allows you to claim back some or all of these costs. This includes both NHS and private patients.

In this blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about dental insurance.

How much is dental insurance?

You can purchase dental insurance as a standalone policy or add it to an existing health insurance policy. Policies can range from around £70 - £300+. If you’ve had previous dental concerns or are in a ‘higher-risk’ category, the premium will be higher.

Just like any insurance policy, the price of the premium depends on your circumstances and other factors, such as:

●Your age and gender

●Your address

●Your dental history

●The level of cover you want

●Whether you’ll be using an NHS dentist or a private one

Another factor that can impact the cost of a policy is how much you’re allowed to claim during the term. Cheaper policies will likely have a maximum limit on how much you can claim for a specific treatment per year. More expensive policies may still have a limit, but it’s often higher than lower-cost alternatives.

Pricier policies will often cover more treatments than a lower-cost policy, but this varies by insurer.

Is dental insurance worth it?

If you rarely need additional treatments and have healthy teeth, you might see dental insurance as an unnecessary spend. Some prefer having the peace of mind of having a policy in place in case they require any treatment down the line.

For those who experience dental problems often, an insurance policy can help lighten the load of the fees. However, pre-existing concerns aren’t usually covered, and there is often a waiting period at the start of a policy. The waiting period can be anything from one to four months or longer and you can’t claim within this time. This means that you can't purchase dental insurance as a last-minute solution.

If you want to seek private dental care, an insurance policy can significantly subsidise the costs. It’s important to note that not all dental insurance policies will cover the entirety of every fee. Some will only cover a percentage, or up to a certain amount per treatment or appointment.

Private dental care has many benefits over NHS dentistry. For starters, NHS waiting lists can be very long, with patients commonly struggling to register with a practice. Registering with a private dentist usually has a much quicker turnaround, and waiting times for appointments are usually shorter. Appointment durations are also generally longer than through the NHS. You’re able to access a wider range of treatments, even if they aren’t clinically necessary. Dental insurance, however, may not cover all private treatments.

The Office of National Statistics claims that the average household spends £140 a year on medical, optical and dental services. Many dental insurance policies will have a similar or higher cost to this. So the price of the premium and policy coverage are important factors to consider. If you’re under the age of 19 or are eligible for free NHS dentistry, dental insurance may not be worth the cost.

Can dental insurance cover implants?

As a general rule, most policies will not cover cosmetic procedures. The majority of surgical implants will fall into that bracket. In certain cases, dental insurance may partially or fully cover an implant if it’s considered to be clinically necessary. This will vary between insurers.

Typically, dental insurance covers routine and emergency dental work. So common procedures such as simple extractions, fillings, dentures and root canals are usually covered. It's also likely it will cover impact injuries (as the result of a car accident for example). Having said that, this often doesn’t extend to sporting injuries. Dental insurance rarely covers cosmetic treatments like teeth whitening and veneers.

Can dental insurance cover braces?

Most insurance policies will cover braces for under 18s if the patient meets certain requirements. This determines whether the braces are medically necessary, or simply to improve aesthetics. If braces are only required to improve the appearance of the teeth, it’s classed as a cosmetic procedure.

Braces can be given to under 18s for free through the NHS. However, due to high demand, this process often involves long waiting lists. Those who are deemed more medically in need of braces will be placed higher on the list. The patient must be under 18 at the start of the treatment for braces to be free. Therefore, being lower on the waiting list can jeopardise the chances of receiving braces for free. Having dental insurance and selecting a private orthodontist can help speed up this process. The cost of the braces may not be fully covered when receiving private treatment. Be sure to check your policy details.

What’s the best dental insurance?

There are a range of providers on the market, whether you’re looking for a standalone policy or a health insurance add-on. You can shop around to compare the premium prices between providers. Remember that the cheapest policy is not always the best.

Understand the treatments you want coverage for. Then you can determine your preferred level of financial cover. Do you want a lower excess? Do you want a higher maximum claim amount? Do you want to receive your treatments from a private dentist, or an NHS practice? All of these factors will impact whether an insurer can provide the right policy for your needs.

Before taking out a dental insurance policy, check customer reviews. On paper, a policy may seem perfect, but if the insurer delays or refuses claims, it proves useless.