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Dental insurance explained

By Simon Miller

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Dental insurance explained

As well as making trips to the dentist using the NHS pay-as-you-go system, or privately, you can also opt for dental insurance as a way of funding. But what is dental insurance and how does it work?

Dental insurance - how it works 

With most dental insurance policies you pay your dentist for any treatment received and then claim the money back from the insurer.

Most policies require you to be signed up for around three to six months before they will pay out for treatment. Some only cover you for NHS dentists but others cover some private treatment, too.

Find out more: Dental insurance - pros and cons

Dental insurance: what treatment is covered?

Dental insurance policies cover maintenance such as check-ups, scale and polish, and X-rays as well as treatments such as fillings, root canals and crowns at NHS practices, private clinics, or sometimes both. Cosmetic dental work, such as teeth whitening, is generally excluded.

Most NHS-only dental insurance policies will pay out an unlimited amount towards treatment on the NHS over a policy year. All of the private policies we looked at set maximum benefit levels for check-ups, scale and polish/hygienist visits and treatment as well a cap on the percentage that they would pay towards it. 

Dental insurance policies compared

The level of cover depends on whether the dental treatment you receive is from an NHS or private clinic as well as providers' fee schedules. The table shows the starting annual premium for dental insurance policies covering maintenance and treatment for a 60-year-old. 

Dental Insurance Policies
Provider Annual premium (60 year old) Age range Check up (maintenance max benefita) Scale polish (maintenance max benefita) Proportion repaid Treatment (max benefit) Proportion repaid
NHS Clinic only
AXA PPP Core Cover £123 18+ No Limit No Limit 100% No Limit 100%
Boots Core Plan £117b 18+ £500cd £500cd 100% £500cd 100%
Bupa Dental Cover 10 £198b 18+ No Limit No Limit 100% No Limit 100%
Dencover NHS £72b 18+ £18.80 £18.80 100% £103 100%
WPA Level 1 £160b 18-65 No Limit No Limit 100% No Limit 100%
Private Clinics only/Private and NHS Clinics
AXA PPP Premier Cover £246 18+ £125e £125e 100%f £1,000g 50%
Boots Private Level 1 £171 18+ £750d £750d Seeh £750d Seeh
Boots Private Level 2 £249 18+ £1,000d £1,000d Seeh £1,000d Seeh
Bupa Dental Cover 20 £337b 18+ £150e £150e 100% £700 75%
Dencover Silver £102b 18-59 £30 £35 100%i £210j 55%
Dencover Gold £168b 18-59 £55 £65 100%i £410k 55%
Dencover Platinum £240b 18-59 £80 £95 100%i £610l 55%
Dencover Diamond £312b 18-59 £105 £125 100%i £810m 55%
Simplyhealth Level 1 £104 18-69 £30 £30 100%n £200 50%
Simplyhealth Level 2 £174 18-69 £60 £60 100%n £400o 50%
Simplyhealth Level 3 £246 18-69 £90 £90 100%n £600p 50%
Simplyhealth Level 4 £315 18-69 £120 £120 100%n £800q 50%
WPA Providental 2 £227b 18-65 £250d £250d 75% £250d 75%
Table notes:
All information correct December 2015.

a Maximum benefit is per year
b Starting premium for younger age groups is low
c NHS maximum benefit for maintenance and treatment follows England and Wales NHS Banding prices
d Maximum annual benefit for maintenance and treatment
e Combined maximum annual benefit for check up and scale and polish
f £500 limit for crowns, inlays and onlays
g 100% payout for NHS treatment
h Number of treatments per year and amount capped according to a benefit schedule
i 80% for scale and polish/hygiene treatment
j £210 limit for crowns, bridges and root canals
k £210 limit for crowns, bridges, inlays and onlays
l £310 limit for crown, bridges and root canals
m £410 limit for crowns, bridges and root canals
n 75% for scale and polish
o £200 limit for crowns, bridges. inlays and onlays
p £300 limit for crowns, bridges, inlays and onlays
q £400 limit for crowns, bridges, inlays and onlays

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