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Dental insurance explained

In this dental insurance guide, you’ll learn what dental insurance is, what it covers and whether it’s right for you. We also look at how to get dental insurance.
In the UK, the NHS and private dentists charge for their services. This can end up costing a lot of money, especially if you need regular dental treatment. This is where dental insurance helps.

What is dental insurance and how does it work?

Dental insurance lets you claim back what you pay NHS or private dentists for treatments. You pay the dentist up front yourself, then your insurer pays you back. As with most kinds of insurance, you can choose to pay an excess. This means you cover part of the cost, and the insurer pays for the rest, up to your cover limit.

Dental insurance usually only covers oral health and maintenance. It covers things like:
  • Routine treatments (check-ups, scaling, and polishing)
  • Complex treatments (oral surgery, extraction of teeth, crowns, fillings and bridges)
  • Emergency cover (such as a broken tooth)
  • Oral cancer care.
It won’t cover cosmetic work (for example, teeth whitening).

Does health insurance cover dental?

Most health insurers don’t cover dental treatment as part of their standard product. But they will usually offer an optional extra that covers these costs.

Vitality offer an optical, dental and hearing option, which you can include in your health insurance plan. This lets you group your cover together, and may cost less than buying a separate dental insurance policy.

How much is dental insurance?

The average person in the UK can expect to pay around £10 a month for dental insurance1. This can vary depending on factors like your dental health history, age and gender. It also depends on the level of cover you choose and location. Choosing NHS or private treatment will also affect the cost.

Is dental insurance worth it?

It's worth considering dental insurance. It's there to help protect you from having to pay any high costs in the future.

Say you needed a crown. Even through the NHS, this would cost £282.80 (NHS, 2021). If you had dental insurance, you could be treated privately and you wouldn't need to cover the costs. It also means you could be treated quickly, avoiding any lengthy waiting lists.

Can I get dental insurance at any time?

Yes, it’s possible to buy dental insurance at any time.  But if you include dental insurance in your health insurance plan, you might need to wait until the date your plan renews.

Some providers will need you to have had a check up in the last 12 months and had all treatment completed.  

Check with your insurer to understand exactly how your policy works.

Does dental insurance cover pre-existing conditions?

Most insurers won't cover pre-existing conditions, but each insurer defines 'pre-existing conditions' differently.

If you had treatment for a root canal, and it returned after your cover began, many insurers would view this as a pre-existing condition. Because of this, it might not be covered. Check with your insurer if you have any doubts.

Telling your provider about pre-existing oral health conditions is also important. Not doing so could mean your treatment won’t be covered.

Can I have more than one dental insurance policy?

You can have more than one dental insurance policy, but you will not get back more than you paid for your treatment. Where two insurance policies cover the same treatment, they would normally split the cost between them. It is not usually in your interest to have more than one policy that covers the same things.