As you get older, your teeth may be more prone to issues like decay or disease. The problem is, Medicare—our country's health insurance program for seniors—doesn’t cover most dental work, and many seniors struggle to find affordable dental insurance. In fact, 47% of adults ages 65 to 80 years old skip buying insurance according to the National Poll on Healthy Aging because it’s not easy to find an affordable dental plan with the right coverage. We reviewed 10 companies based on price, coverage, caps, and more to find the best dental insurance options for seniors before deciding on the six best. Read on to find the one that fits your needs.
The 6 Best Dental Insurance Plans for Seniors in 2020
AARP® Dental by Delta Dental: Best Overall
AARP® Dental is a members-only plan operated by Delta Dental. Delta Dental Insurance is the country's largest dental insurance provider, covering 80,000 enrollees nationwide. The company has been around since 1966 and now has a robust network of dentists at 500,000 locations. They've earned an A (Excellent) rating from AM Best, and the Better Business Bureau has several regional Delta Dental pages with different ratings.
AARP® Dental offers three dental insurance plan options:
- Delta Dental PPO Plan A
- Delta Dental PPO Plan B
- DeltaCare® USA Plan
While the exact coverage and cost of each PPO plan will vary by policy, there are no waiting periods for fillings and root canals. In addition, you may have coverage for implants, crowns, dentures, and more, but waiting periods and annual and lifetime maximums for these other procedures may vary by plan, according to a representative.
Monthly premiums may vary by policy and location. For example, the premiums for a two-person PPO Plan A and PPO Plan B in Florida range from $99.50 to $142.49 per month. There are no waiting periods or maximums, but you may pay more for certain procedures. There is one major exclusion, though—DeltaCare® USA doesn't cover implants.
AARP® Dental by Delta Dental is our top pick because of the company's large network and ability to cover senior needs. It's a convenient option for seniors who don't want to travel far for quality dental care.
Guardian Direct®: Runner-Up, Best Overall
Guardian Direct® is part of The Guardian Life Insurance Company, one of the country's biggest life insurance providers. The New York-based company has been in business for more than 150 years and serves 27 million people nationwide. Guardian has an A+ (Superior) rating from AM Best. The company also has an A+ rating through the Better Business Bureau.
Guardian Direct® offers three options for PPO dental insurance:
- Advantage Bronze
- Advantage Silver
- Advantage Gold
In Florida, Guardian Dental Advantage Silver and Gold plans range from $50.24 to $71.90 for a couple. Bronze is the cheapest and doesn't cover major work such as crowns and root canals, while Gold is the most expensive and has the most robust coverage. All have these features:
- Choose any dentist
- Save up to 35% by selecting an in-network dentist
- No waiting period for cleanings
- Six-month waiting period for fillings
- Twelve-month waiting period for major work (excludes Bronze)
The annual caps range from $500 to $1,500 for the first three years, depending on the plan. The lifetime caps on implants are $700 for Silver and $1,000 for Gold.
Guardian Direct® earned our second-place spot for the company's generous savings—up to 35%—on in-network dentists.
Ameritas: Best Rewards Program
Ameritas, which is part of Ameritas Life Insurance Group, is another nationwide insurer with a long history. The company has been around since 1887 and has earned an A- (Excellent) rating with AM Best. Ameritas has one of the five largest networks in the country, where in-network providers offer discounts of 25% to 50% to more than 8.1 million people nationwide. Beyond the discounts, you can accrue Ameritas Dental Rewards® that can help pay for future dental treatments.
For a couple in Florida, for example, the monthly premiums range from $78.12 to $148.59 per month. Based on where you live, you may see different plan options, such as:
- PrimeStar® Protect 1000
- PrimeStar® Protect Network 1000
- PrimeStar® Protect 2000
- PrimeStar® Protect Network 2000
All of these offer 100% coverage for preventative work like cleanings and exams. There is 50% to 80% coverage on everything else. There are no waiting periods, but, depending on the plan, there is a maximum annual benefit of $1,000 to $2,000. There are no lifetime caps except for child orthodontics, according to a representative.
Ameritas earned a spot on our list because the company provides accrued benefits. Ameritas Dental Rewards® allows you to roll over a certain amount of unused money every year for future procedures.
Humana: Best Coverage Types
Humana Insurance is one of the country's largest insurance companies and is based in Louisville, Kentucky, where it has been offering insurance since 1961. Humana provides dental insurance nationwide with a network of 270,000 dentists. The company has earned an A- (Excellent) from AM Best and an A+ from the Better Business Bureau.
There are five individual plans to choose from:
- Dental Loyalty Plus Plan
- Dental Value Plan
- Dental Preventative Plus Plan
- Dental Savings Plus Plan
- Complete Dental Plan
We obtained a quote for a couple for both the Dental Value Plan and the Dental Preventative Plus Plan; rates were $37.98 and $47.98 per month, respectively. These plans may cover a percentage of the cost of fillings, extractions, oral surgery, root canals, crowns, and dentures. The plans also offer a discount for orthodontics.
Some policies may waive the waiting period if you have had continuous dental insurance for the past 12 months.
Humana earned the win for best coverage types because it offers five plan types that allow customers to get the policy that best fits their needs.
Aetna® Vital Savings: Best Value (Coverage for Price)
Aetna has been in business since 1853, providing dental insurance since 1970. Headquartered in Hartford, Connecticut, Aetna has 13 million members nationwide and a PPO network of 372,000 dental providers. The company has earned an A- (Excellent) rating with AM Best and an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Aetna offers three plan options:
- Aetna Dental® Direct Preferred PPO
- Aetna Dental® Direct Core PPO
- Aetna® Vital Savings Dental Discount Card
Depending upon the plan you choose, premiums range from $11 to $39 per month, and you'll have coverage for major services like oral surgery, crowns, root canal therapy, and dentures.
The Direct Preferred PPO has an annual maximum limit of $1,250 while the Direct Core's cap is $1,000. PPO waiting periods range from zero to 12 months based on the work required. Neither PPO offers orthodontics coverage.
The Vital Savings Discount Card has no waiting periods and no annual or lifetime caps and provides discounts for orthodontia.
Aetna® Vital Savings made our list because of the price and coverage. If you need major work, Aetna® Vital Savings may be the best choice. For $110 per year, you have access to 15% to 50% discounts.
DentalPlans.com: No Waiting Period
DentalPlans.com is a nationwide online marketplace for dental discount plans offering alternatives to dental insurance since 1999. This means that they are not the actual insurance provider; instead, they contract with over 30 trusted companies, including Aetna, Careington, and Cigna. DentalPlans.com isn't accredited by the Better Business Bureau, but they have an A+ rating.
Plan coverage ultimately depends on the specific program you choose from this brokerage. Ultimately, plans through this network have no waiting periods, and you avoid annual or lifetime caps, which is helpful for those who have a lot of work to get done.
According to DentalPlans.com's website, their providers' policies offer 10% to 60% off the cost of dental work. These discount plans may be among the cheapest you will find. But if you're looking for a specific procedure with a nearby practitioner, make sure they accept the plan you're considering before signing up.
It’s a reasonably priced option where you will have access to a plan from $80 to $200 per year, according to Consumer Reports.
DentalPlans.com made our list because it has no waiting period on any of its plans—and no annual caps.
What Is Dental Insurance for Seniors?
Dental insurance for seniors covers dental expenses commonly needed by older individuals. Medicare doesn't cover most dental work. You may have coverage for complicated, inpatient dental procedures in the hospital. But for everything else—like cleanings, x-rays, implants, and dentures—you need another dental insurance policy. Many seniors don't think they can afford dental insurance and decide to skip it altogether, which often leads to putting off necessary dental work.
What Does Dental Insurance for Seniors Typically Include?
Basic dental insurance policies include cleanings, exams, x-rays, fillings, extractions, and some repairs. More expensive coverage may include endodontics, periodontics, dentures, implants, orthodontia, and cosmetic services. It may be better to steer clear of basic plans, especially if you need a major procedure like dentures or implants.
What Does Dental Insurance for Seniors Typically Exclude?
There is a pattern among basic dental insurance. The cheapest, most basic plans may not offer coverage for major procedures like root canals, dentures, or implants. It's also common to see waiting periods of six to 12 months, depending on the policy.
If you can't afford a robust plan, you may consider charitable options. The American Dental Association runs the Dental Lifeline Network for vulnerable people. You may also explore local dental schools or Community Health Centers for more affordable services.
What Are the Expected Costs of Dental Insurance for Seniors?
Two-thirds of people on Medicare don't have dental insurance, according to a 2016 report from Kaiser Family Foundation. The remaining third may have coverage from a Medicare Advantage plan, Medicaid, private plans, or employer coverage. This makes it tough to nail down the average cost of dental insurance premiums for seniors. But the same report found that one in five people on Medicare spends more than $1,000 in out-of-pocket dental expenses every year.
Based on our research, a senior couple can expect to spend anywhere from $160 per year for a discount dental plan to about $1,800 per year—or about $150 per month—for individual dental insurance coverage. The exact monthly premiums will vary by policy and location.
Is Paying for Dental Insurance for Seniors Worth It?
There are several things to consider before buying dental insurance. You should think about the current health of your teeth and your family's dental history. It may be possible to find a plan that matches your unique needs. Compare the cost of premiums with how much you expect to use the insurance. Depending on your financial situation, it may be better to pick a discount dental policy or pay out-of-pocket (you have to run the numbers).
How We Chose the Dental Insurance for Seniors Companies
It can be tough to find affordable dental insurance for seniors. We compared several factors to find the best options. We looked for companies with a solid history, reputation, and nationwide availability. We also considered the cost, coverage, waiting periods, and policy caps.
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Aetna. "Does Aetna Dental Insurance Cover Dental Implants?" Accessed March 12, 2020.
DentalPlans.com. "Who We Are." Accessed March 25, 2020.
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Kaiser Family Foundation. "Drilling Down on Dental Coverage and Costs for Medicare Beneficiaries." Accessed March 25, 2020.