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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 operations or long-term 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.

Dental insurance usually only covers oral health and maintenance. It usually covers things like:
  • Routine NHS treatments (check-ups, small corrections to fillings, 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?

No, most health insurance providers don’t cover dental treatment. This means that you will have to buy dental cover separately. 

That said, providers like Vitality offer a dental add-on to other insurance plans. This lets you bundle all your cover together, and may cost less than buying a separate 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.

To get a better idea about dental insurance costs, it’s best to speak to an adviser about your specific needs. 

Is dental insurance worth it?

If you have good oral hygiene, getting dental insurance may not be top priority. You could choose to pay for annual check-ups through the NHS, which is currently £22.70 per appointment. That would work out cheaper than most annual dental insurance policies. 

But, if you ever needed extensive dental treatment this could end up costing a lot of money on the NHS. And it would cost even more if you had the treatment privately.

The good thing about dental insurance is that it gives you peace of mind. You know that you’re covered if you ever need emergency or long-term treatments. 

Can I get dental insurance at any time?

Yes, it’s possible to apply for dental insurance at any time. 

Dental cover will only start after you have a check-up with your dentist. If the dentist says your oral health is fine, your cover will begin immediately. But, if the dentist recommends a treatment, you’ll have to wait 12 months before your cover begins. Most dental insurance providers will also ask you to get regular check-ups. 

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. It usually means any oral health problems in the last 12 months.

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 cover is cancelled and you’d have to pay for all treatment out of your  own pocket.

Can I have more than one dental insurance policy?

Yes, you can have as many dental insurance policies as you want – it’s your right to do so. However, you can’t use more than one policy per claim. You couldn't, for instance, claim for the same filling from two different insurers. 

  • Having extra coverage
  • You could choose between providers depending on the amount they pay out for individual claims
  • Cover for specific conditions that only certain insurers cover
  • You could choose one policy for a unique condition. Then the second provider could cover more general treatments. 

  • Drawbacks of having more than one dental insurance policy include the cost. You’ll be paying more than one monthly premium. You’ll also have more paperwork and documentation to work through. 

    Choosing a provider that allows you to change your policy over time could be an alternative to taking out several policies.

    Is dental insurance tax deductible?

    No. Dental insurance is usually treated as a benefit in kind and is taxed. Your employer will usually take care of this. They must provide any details of benefits to HMRC by filling in a form called P11D. This form describes all benefits their employees receive. Your employer will have to pay tax on that.