Dental insurance: Dental insurance: Pros and cons

Dentists at work

Always pick a dental policy that suits your needs and oral health

Dental insurance may seem like a good investment, but its worth weighing up the pros and cons against how often you visit the dentist each year, whether you visit a NHS or private clinic and your overall oral health. 

NHS dental insurance policies

As shown in our dental insurance comparison table, the cost of a NHS-only dental insurance policy can vary from £72 to £198 a year for a 60 year old. 

Though most NHS only policies have no limit to the amount of treatment you can claim back in a year, if you have good oral health and visit the dentist once a year for a check up and scale and polish (costing £18.80 under band 1 on the NHS) cover may not be necessary for you.

On the other hand if you had to pay out for a band 3 treatment on the NHS, such as a crown, this would cost you £222.50. This would be covered by a NHS only insurance policy in full and the annual premium would work out cheaper than pay as you  go on the NHS.    

Private dental insurance

The cost of dental insurance policies that cover private treatment can vary from as low £104 with a policy from Simplyhealth up to £337 with a policy from Bupa for a 60 year old. 

Nearly all of the policies we looked at add a cap to the percentage they will pay out for treatment ranging from 50% to 75%. 

Private treatment is a lot more expensive than on the NHS so you should consider whether you you would be happy to pay out towards treatment costs if you had to make a claim on top of the monthly premium. 

Dental payment plans, also known as 'capitation' plans offer an alternative to dental insurance to pay for private dental treatment. Although a full dental payment plan maybe expensive all treatment costs are fully covered.    

Dental insurance: pros and cons

We list some other factors to consider before opting for a dental insurance policy:

Pros

  • If you had a dental emergency or accident which could potentially be expensive this is typically covered by a dental insurance policy. Many will also cover you for accident or emergency if you are overseas.
  • You can also choose whether to pay monthly or annually to suit your circumstances - dental insurance can provide peace of mind if you're worried about forking out for big bills. Some policies allow you to choose your dentist and claim for treatment, whether done privately or on the NHS.
  • All of the policies we looked offered one-off cancer cover.
  • The majority of NHS only policies offer unlimited cover over a year, which can work out cheaper in premiums than paying out for the top band of treatment on the NHS. Check our dental insurance tables to see which offers the best level of cover to match your dental needs.
  • Some dental insurance policies have no upper age limit for new customers. 

Cons

  • Dental insurance can be expensive and many policies do not pay out for the full cost of private treatment. For example, dental insurance policies from Simplyhealth and Dencover cap the cost of treatment at 50% and 55% respectively at a private dental clinic. If you are looking for fully comprehensive cover for private treatment consider a dental payment plan
  • All of the policies we looked have a one to six month qualifying period during which you can't claim for treatment. 
  • Cover for cancer is just on a one-off basis. If you have already had mouth cancer this would be excluded from the policy.
  • If you're able to get easy access to NHS care and your oral health is generally good, you'd be better off seeing an NHS dentist for occasional check-ups.

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