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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 Limit (£) checkup / scale and polisha Limit (%) checkup / scale and polisha Period (mths) before claim for checkup / scale and polish Limit (£) routine treatmentb Limit (%) routine treatmentb Period (mths) before claim for routine treatment Limit (£) emergency treatment Limit (%) emergency treatment
NHS Clinic only
AXA PPP Core Cover £123.60 18+ No limit 100% 1 No limit 100% 1 £2500c 100%
Boots Core Plan £126.94 18+ No limit 100% 3 No limit 100% 3 £500 100%
Bupa Dental Cover 10 d £199.32e 18+ No limit for NHS treatment 100% 0 No limit 100% 4 No limit 100%
Dencover NHS £5.99 per month/£71.88 18+ £19.70 checkups & x-rays / £19.70 polish 100% 0 £107.80 100% 2 £425 100%
WPA Level 1 £164.40 18-65 No limit 100% 1 No limit 100% 3 £500f 75%
Private Clinics only/Private and NHS Clinics
AXA PPP Premier Cover £247.80 18+ £125 100% 3 £1,000 50% 3 £2,500c 100%
Boots Private Level 1 £185.57 18+ £750g 100% 3 £750g 100% 3 £1,000 100%
Boots Private Level 2 £270 18+ £1,000g 100% 3 £1,000g 100% 3 £1,500 100%
Bupa Dental Cover 20 £355.20e 18+ £150 100% 0 £700 75% 4 £600 100%
Dencover Silver £8.50 per month/£120 18+ £30 checkups & x-rays / £35 polish 100% checkups & x-rays / 80% polish 0 £210 55% 2 £850 100%
Dencover Gold £13.99 per month/£167.88 18+ £55 checkups & x-rays / £65 polish 100% checkups & x-rays / 80% polish 0 £410h 55% 2 £850 100%
Dencover Platinum £19.99 per month/£239.88 18+ £85 checkups & x-rays / £95 polish 100% checkups & x-rays / 80% polish 0 £610i 55% 2 £1,100 100%
Dencover Diamond £25.99 per month/£311.88 18+ £115 checkups & x-rays / £125 polish 100% checkups & x-rays / 80% polish 0 £810j 55% 2 £1,100 100%
Simplyhealth Level 1 £8.68 per month/£104.16 18-79 £40 checkups & x-rays / £35 polish 100% checkups & x-rays / 75% polish 0 £200k 50% 3 £500 100%
Simplyhealth Level 2 £14.47 per month/£104.16 18-79 £70 checkups & x-rays / £65 polish 100% checkups & x-rays / 75% polish 0 £400l 50% 3 £500 100%
Simplyhealth Level 3 £20.51 per month/£246.12 18-79 £100 checkups & x-rays / £95 polish 100% checkups & x-rays / 75% polish 0 £600m 50% 3 £500 100%
Simplyhealth Level 4 £26.24 per month/£314.88 18-79 £130 checkups & x-rays / £125 polish 100% checkups & x-rays / 75% polish 0 £800n 50% 3 £500 100%
WPA Providental 2 £232.80 18-65 £250g 75% 1 £250g 75% 3 £1,000o 75%
Table notes:
All information correct March 2017.

a Maximum benefit is per year
b Includes cover for fillings and crowns
c Covers up to 4 incidents per year
d NHS maximum benefit for maintenance and treatment follows England and Wales NHS Banding prices, not guaranteed in Scotland or Northern Ireland
e Quote valid for 14 days from 17 March 2017
f Covers up to 2 incidents per year
g Amount covers combined cost of both checkups and polishes and routine treatment
h A maximum of £210 can be used to cover crowns, root canals and bridge treatment
i A maximum of £310 can be used to cover crowns, root canals and bridge treatment
j A maximum of £410 can be used to cover crowns, root canals and bridge treatment
k A maximum of £200 can be used to cover crowns, bridge treatment, inlays and onlays
l A maximum of £200 can be used to cover crowns, bridge treatment, inlays and onlays
m A maximum of £300 can be used to cover crowns, bridge treatment, inlays and onlays
n A maximum of £400 can be used to cover crowns, bridge treatment, inlays and onlays
o Covers up to 4 incidents per year
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