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As you get older, your teeth may become more prone to more issues. 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 because it's not easy to find an affordable dental plan with the right coverage, according to the National Poll on Healthy Aging.
We reviewed 10 companies based on price, coverage, caps, and more to find the best dental insurance options for seniors. While these companies may not provide plans exclusively for seniors, they have coverage and benefits that make them ideal.
Read on to see our top five choices and help to find the one that best fits your needs.
Best Overall : AARP® Dental by Delta Dental
AARP® Dental is a members-only plan operated by Delta Dental Insurance, the country's largest dental insurance provider, serving 80 million Americans. The company has a robust network of more than 155,000 dentists and an A (Excellent) rating from AM Best.
AARP® Dental offers three dental insurance plan options, although plan offerings differ by state:
- Delta Dental PPO Plan A
- Delta Dental PPO Plan B
- DeltaCare® USA Plan
While each PPO plan's exact coverage and cost will vary by policy, there are no waiting periods for fillings or root canals. Monthly premiums may also vary by policy and location. For example, the premiums for a two-person PPO Plan A and PPO Plan B in Florida have higher costs ($126/month and $86/month) than the DeltaCare® USA plan ($55/month).
While there are no waiting periods or maximums, you may pay more for certain procedures, excluding implants—which DeltaCare® USA doesn't cover.
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.
Runner-Up, Best Overall : Guardian Direct®
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 since 1860 and serves 29 million people nationwide, and has 120,000+ dental providers. Guardian has an A++ (Superior) rating from AM Best and an A+ rating through the Better Business Bureau.
Guardian Direct® offers three options for PPO dental insurance:
- Advantage Bronze
- Advantage Silver
- Advantage Gold
Bronze is the cheapest, starting as low as $20/month, 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 $50 by selecting an in-network dentist
- No waiting period for cleanings
- Six-month waiting period for fillings
- 12-month waiting period for major work (excludes Bronze)
Guardian Direct® earned our second-place spot for the company's generous savings—up to $50—on in-network dentists.
Best Rewards Program : Ameritas
Ameritas is part of Ameritas Life Insurance Group and is another nationwide insurer with a long history. The company has been around since 1887 and has earned an A rating with AM Best. Ameritas has one of the largest networks in the country, where in-network providers offer discounts of 25% to 50% to more than 470,000 dental customers nationwide.
Beyond the discounts, you can accrue Ameritas Dental Rewards® that can help pay for future dental treatments. Based on where you live, you may see different plan options, such as:
- PrimeStar® Value
- PrimeStar® Access
- PrimeStar® Total
All of these offer 100% coverage for preventative work like cleanings and exams, and there is 15% to 90% coverage on everything else. There are no waiting periods, but the percentage of coverage increases after one year, and depending on the plan, there is a maximum annual benefit of $750 to $2,500.
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.
Best Coverage Types : Humana
Humana Insurance is one of the country's largest insurance companies and is based in Louisville, Kentucky, where it began as a nursing home in 1961. Humana provides dental insurance nationwide with a network of 260,000 dentists. The company has earned an A- (Excellent) from AM Best and an A+ from the Better Business Bureau.
There are seven individual plans to choose from:
- Dental Savings Plus Plan
- Complete Dental Plan
- Loyalty Plus Plan
- Bright Plus for Veterans Plan
- Bright Plus Plan
- Preventive Value Plan
- Dental Value Plan
These plans may cover a percentage of the cost of fillings, extractions, oral surgery, root canals, crowns, and dentures. Some plans also offer a discount for orthodontics.
Humana earned the win for best coverage types because it offers a variety of plan types that allow seniors to get the policy that best fits their needs and cost range.
Best Value (Coverage for Price) : Aetna® Vital Savings
Aetna has been in business since 1853. Headquartered in Hartford, Connecticut, about 39 million people rely on Aetna, and the company has more than 120,000 dental providers nationwide. They earned an A financial strength 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 on the plan you choose, 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.
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 $95 per year, you have access to 15% to 50% discounts—which is especially useful for seniors with limited income.
What Is Dental Insurance for Seniors?
Dental insurance for seniors isn't necessarily insurance exclusively reserved for seniors, but there are plans whose benefits are ideal for the type of issues seniors may encounter. Since Medicare doesn't cover most dental work, seniors have to look elsewhere.
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 skip it altogether, often leading to unnecessary 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 because seniors are more likely to 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 cover 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?
About half of people on Medicare don't have dental insurance, according to a 2021 report from Kaiser Family Foundation. A large portion may also have coverage from a Medicare Advantage plan, Medicaid, private plans, or employer coverage, making it tough to nail down the average cost of dental insurance premiums for seniors. But the same report found that nearly one in five people on Medicare spends more than $1,000 in out-of-pocket dental expenses every year.
The exact monthly premiums will vary by policy, location, and situation.
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.