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Dental insurance explained

By Dean Sobers

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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) Limit (£) checkup / scale and polisha

Months 

before claim: checkup / scale and polish

Limit (£)

routine treatmentb

Limit (%) routine treatmentb

Months before claim: routine 

treatment

Limit (£) emergency treatment Limit (%) emergency treatment
NHS Clinic only
AXA PPP Core Cover £123.60 No limit 1 No limit 100% 1 £2500 100%

Ages: 18+.

Limit (%) checkup/scale and polish: 100%

Emergency treatment limits: Up to 4 incidents per year

Boots Core Plan £126.94 No limit 3 No limit 100% 3 £500 100%

Ages: 18+.

Limit (%) checkup/scale and polish: 100%

Bupa Dental Cover 10 £199.32 No limit for NHS treatment 0 No limit 100% 4 No limit 100%

Benefit: NHS maximum benefit for maintenance and treatment follows England and Wales NHS banding prices - not guaranteed in Scotland or Northern Ireland

Ages: 18+

Limit (%) checkup/scale and polish: 100%

Dencover NHS £5.99 per month/£71.88 £19.70 checkups & x-rays / £19.70 polish 0 £107.80 100% 2 £425 100%

Ages: 18+

Limit (%) checkup/scale and polish: 100%

WPA Level 1 £164.40 No limit 1 No limit 100% 3 £500 75%

Ages: 18-65

Limit (%) checkup/scale and polish: 100%

Emergency treatment limits: Up to 2 incidents per year

Private Clinics only/Private and NHS Clinics
AXA PPP Premier Cover £247.80 £125 3 £1,000 50% 3 £2,500 100%

Ages: 18+.

Limit (%) checkup/scale and polish: 100%

Emergency treatment limits: Up to 4 incidents per year

Boots Private Level 1 £185.57 £750 3 £750g 100% 3 £1,000 100%

Ages: 18+

Limit £ checkup/scale and polish: Overall limit combined costs - checkups, polishes and routine treatments

Limit (%) checkup/scale and polish: 100%

Boots Private Level 2 £270 £1,000 3 £1,000g 100% 3 £1,500 100%

Ages: 18+.

Limit £ checkup/scale and polish: Overall limit combined costs - checkups, polishes and routine treatments

Limit (%) checkup/scale and polish: 100%

Bupa Dental Cover 20 £355.20 £150 0 £700 75% 4 £600 100%

Ages: 18+

Limit (%) checkup/scale and polish: 100%

Dencover Silver £8.50 per month/£120 £30 checkups & x-rays / £35 polish 0 £210 55% 2 £850 100%

Ages: 18+

Limit (%) checkup/scale and polish: 100% checkups & x-rays/80% polish

Dencover Gold £13.99 per month/£167.88 £55 checkups & x-rays / £65 polish 0 £410 55% 2 £850 100%

Ages: 18+

Limit (%) checkup/scale and polish: 100% checkups & x-rays/80% polish

£ limit routine treatment: A maximum of £210 can be used to cover crowns, root canals and bridge treatments

Dencover Platinum £19.99 per month/£239.88 £85 checkups & x-rays / £95 polish 0 £610 55% 2 £1,100 100%

Ages: 18+

Limit (%) checkup/scale and polish: 100% checkups & x-rays/80% polish

£ limit routine treatment: A maximum of £310 can be used to cover crowns, root canals and bridge treatments

Dencover Diamond £25.99 per month/£311.88 £115 checkups & x-rays / £125 polish 0 £810 55% 2 £1,100 100%

Ages: 18+

Limit (%) checkup/scale and polish: 100% checkups & x-rays/80% polish

£ limit routine treatment: A maximum of £410 can be used to cover crowns, root canals and bridge treatments

Simplyhealth Level 1 £8.68 per month/£104.16 £40 checkups & x-rays / £35 polish 0 £200 50% 3 £500 100%

Ages: 18-79

Limit (%) checkup/scale and polish: 100% checkups & x-rays/75% polish

£ limit routine treatment: A maximum of £200 can be used to cover crowns, bridge treatments, inlays and onlays

Simplyhealth Level 2 £14.47 per month/£104.16 £70 checkups & x-rays / £65 polish 0 £400 50% 3 £500 100%

Ages: 18-79

Limit (%) checkup/scale and polish: 100% checkups & x-rays/75% polish

£ limit routine treatment: A maximum of £200 can be used to cover crowns, bridge treatments, inlays and onlays

Simplyhealth Level 3 £20.51 per month/£246.12 £100 checkups & x-rays / £95 polish 0 £600 50% 3 £500 100%

Ages: 18-79

Limit (%) checkup/scale and polish: 100% checkups & x-rays/75% polish

£ limit routine treatment: A maximum of £300 can be used to cover crowns, bridge treatments, inlays and onlays

Simplyhealth Level 4 £26.24 per month/£314.88 £130 checkups & x-rays / £125 polish 0 £800 50% 3 £500 100%

Ages: 18-79

Limit (%) checkup/scale and polish: 100% checkups & x-rays/75% polish

£ limit routine treatment: A maximum of £400 can be used to cover crowns, bridge treatments, inlays and onlays

WPA Providental 2 £232.80 £250 1 £250g 75% 3 £1,000 75%

Ages: 18-65

Limit (%) checkup/scale and polish: 75%

£ Limit checkup/scale and polish: Overall limit combined costs - checkups, polishes and routine treatments

£ Limit routine treatment: Overall limit combined costs - checkups, polishes and routine treatments

£ limit emergency treatment: Covers up to 4 incidents per year

Table notes:
All information correct March 2017.

a Maximum benefit is per year
b Includes cover for fillings and crowns
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