Discounts, Major Dentistry, & Orthodontics

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According to the Mayo Clinic, regular visits to a dentist for cleaning and checkups can improve not only your oral health but also your overall health. Many people can’t afford to pay for proper dental care without insurance, so if you’re interested in purchasing dental insurance, it’s important to choose the best dental insurance coverage for your specific needs.


When comparing dental insurance plans, look for key factors such as waiting time, monthly premium amount, services covered, and annual benefit limits. The best insurance providers may offer several plans to meet your needs. It can be confusing to search individual websites, so we’ve reviewed several companies and chosen our top picks.


#1 – Best for Dental Discount Marketplace dental insurance review Pros

  • Coverage available nationwide
  • Immediate coverage for routine services
  • Orthodontic coverage available for adults and children
  • Available through federal and state marketplaces
  • Broad network of dental providers
  • Consumers Advocates rating: 4.8/5

Cons of

  • Low maximum annual benefit
  • Plan selections are different for every state

Why Did We Choose
Many providers don’t offer orthodontic coverage for adults. DentalPlans has the best variety of plans that include orthodontic services available to both children and adults. PPO, HMO, discount, and managed fee plans are available. Copays: Rating 4.6/5
Most pay 100% of preventive services such as cleanings and X-rays. The percentage of covered basic and major services that it pays varies by the type of policy you purchase. Payment for basic care such as fillings ranges from 50% to 80%. If your policy includes major or orthodontic care, pays 50% for those services.

Maximum Benefits: Rating 4.2/5
For some people, having a $1,000-$1,500 maximum benefit allowance for dental care is sufficient. However, for those who have cavities often or need more extensive dental treatments, lower yearly maximums can be restrictive. DentalPlan’s copay amount for braces and orthodontic care is 50%; a $1,000 lifetime maximum for orthodontic services may not cover half of the cost of braces. Keep in mind, though, that Dental offers orthodontic coverage to both children and adults, something that many carriers don’t provide.

Waiting Period DentalPlans: Rating 4.8/5
There is no waiting period for preventive, diagnostic, or basic care with However, there is a 12-month waiting period for major or orthodontic services.

Check Out’s Discount Marketplace


#2 Guardian Direct – Best for Major Dental Services

Guardian Direct Dental Insurance


Guardian Direct Dental Pros

  • Affordable premiums starting at $20 in some areas
  • Wide selection of dental providers
  • DHMO and PPO plan options
  • No deductible for in-network major work
  • rating: 4.9/5

Cons of Guardian Direct Dental Plans

  •  Low yearly maximum benefits
  • Poor customer satisfaction ratings

Why Did We Choose Guardian Direct Dental Insurance?

Most Guardian Direct dental plans cover major work such as crowns, oral surgery, and implants. Some plans also cover orthodontic work for children under 19. In-network preventive services have no deductible, and the deductible for out-of-network preventive and other dental services is only $50.

Guardian Direct Dental Copays: Rating 4.1/5

The percentage that Guardian Dentistry pays for services varies across the available plans. While most carriers and two of Guardian Dental’s plans pay 100% for preventive services, one of the plans only pays 80%. Benefit amounts are 50% for basic services, implants, major services, and orthodontic work for all plans, except for one plan paying 70% for basic services.

Maximum Benefits of Guardian Direct: Rating 4.1/5

Yearly maximum benefits for two of Guardian Dental’s plans are only $500 for the first year and increase yearly to $1,000-$1,500. Another plan’s first-year maximum is $1,000; this plan increases to $1,500 in the third year but reduces to $1,000 in the fourth year and beyond.

For the plans that include orthodontic work, the yearly maximum benefit is $500 with a lifetime benefit of only $1,000.

Guardian Direct Waiting Periods: Rating 4.7/5

There is no waiting period for preventive services regardless of the plan you choose, but there is a six-month waiting period for basic services and 12 months for major services, implants, and orthodontic work.


Need Major Dental? Check Out Guardian Direct!

#3 1Dental – Best for Discounted Dental Insurance

1dental insurance review

1Dental Pros

  • No annual maximum limits, deductibles, or waiting periods
  • You can get money back within 30 days
  • Discounts for children and adults for orthodontic work
  • Vision discounts included at no extra charge
  • Can be used with dental insurance
  • rating: 4.7/5

Cons of 1Dental

  • Annual membership fee
  • Discount plan only; not dental insurance
  • Not all dentists accept 1Dental

Why Did We Choose 1Dental?

Coverage begins immediately. Discounts range from 15% to 60%. Cosmetic dentistry discounts are available. You can purchase coverage for anyone who lives in your home, even non-family members.

1Dental Copays: Rating 4.4/5

The discounted amounts vary between plans. You get a flat-rate discount for all qualifying dental services, but your actual payment amount depends on how much the provider you choose charges for those services.

Maximum Benefits of 1 Dental: Rating 5/5

There are no annual limits with 1 Dental, but remember that you are purchasing a plan that provides discounts only. You pay out-of-pocket for every dental service at discounted prices.

1Dental Waiting Periods: Rating 5/5

1Dental plans don’t have waiting periods.


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#4 Humana – Best Dental Coverage Value

Humana dental insurance


Humana Dental Pros

  • A dental savings plan is available
  • One plan has no waiting period for all covered services
  • Some plans have a one-time deductible
  • Low premiums for basic plans
  • Extensive provider network
  • rating: 4.7/5

Cons of Humana Dental Plans

  • No coverage option for implants or orthodontic work
  • Plans and coverage amounts vary widely from state to state
  • Low yearly maximum benefits

Why Did We Choose Humana Dentistry?

Humana has a plan with a monthly premium amount of under $20. Preventive care is free, and one plan offers an unlimited yearly maximum. The one-time deductible plan has a lower-than-average monthly premium amount in some states.

Humana Copays: Rating 4.1/5

Although preventive care is covered at 100%, basic care coverage varies from 40% to 80% for the first year depending on the plan you choose. For the plans that include major services, first-year coverage ranges from 20% to 50%, with 50% being the highest in year three for the plan with increasing yearly benefits.

Maximum Benefits of Humana: Rating 4.5/5

Humana’s Preventive Value plan has unlimited yearly maximums. Other plans have between $1,000 and $1,250 for the first year; this increases over time to $1,500.

Humana Waiting Periods: 4.8/5

Basic care waiting periods range from none to six months across available plans. Major services waiting periods are none to 12 months. One plan has no waiting period for any covered services, including major work.

Check Out Humana’s Discount Marketplace

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#5 Spirit Dental – Best Dental Plan for Immediate Coverage

spirit dental insurance

Spirit Dental Pros

  • No waiting periods
  • One-time deductible
  • Yearly maximum benefit is $3,500 to $5,000 with some plans
  • Two exams and three cleanings yearly are covered at 100%
  • Some plans offer implant, orthodontic, and major services coverage
  • rating: 4.9/5

Cons of Spirit Dental Plans

  • Only a $750 maximum benefit for some plans during the first year
  • Premiums can be expensive

Why Did We Choose Spirit Dental?

Unlike most carriers, Spirit Dental plans have no waiting periods; this means that you have coverage even for major services immediately. They cover many major services, including implants. There is only a $100 one-time deductible.

Spirit Dental Copays: Rating 4.8/5

Preventive care is covered at 100%. Basic care coverage ranges from 50%-65% in the first year, expanding to 80%-90% in three years. Spirit Dental pays between 10% and 25% for major services in the first year, reaching between 20% and 65% in the third year. Orthodontic benefits are from 10% to 25% in the first year, reaching 50% in the third year.

Maximum Benefits of Spirit Dental: Rating 4.9/5

First-year maximum benefit amounts vary, from $750 to $3,500. Third-year benefit amounts range from $1,200 to $5,000. Some Spirit Dental plans aren’t available in all states, including those with the eventual $5,000 yearly maximum.

Spirit Dental Waiting Periods: Rating 5/5

There are no waiting periods for any services with Spirit Dental policies, which is rare.

Need Major Dental? Check Out Guardian Direct! 


#6 Cigna – Best Dental for Senior Adults

cigna dental

Cigna Pros

  • No deductibles or copays for in-network preventive care
  • 24/7/365 phone support
  • Restorative and orthodontic services are covered with some plans
  • Preventive care is covered immediately
  • The preventive plan is very affordable
  • rating: 4.2/5

Cons of Dental Insurance

  • No coverage for cosmetic dentistry or implants
  • Waiting periods for basic and major coverage

Why Did We Choose Cigna Dental Plans?

People of all ages can purchase Cigna’s PPO plans. It has a wide network of providers across the country. Plans are affordable for seniors and offer coverage for extra cleanings and dentures, bridges, and other treatments commonly required for aging teeth.

Cigna Copays: Rating 4.8/5

Preventive services are covered at 100%. Most Cigna plans offer 80% coverage for basic services, with 50% benefits on major services. Plans pay 50% for orthodontics.

Cigna Maximum Benefits: Rating 4.5/5

Cigna’s preventive plan has no maximum yearly limit. Other plans have between $1,000 and $1,500 annual maximums. There is a $1,000-lifetime orthodontic limit, which is common among dental insurance plans that cover orthodontic work.

Waiting Periods for Cigna Dental Coverage: Rating 4.7/5

None of Cigna’s dental plans have a waiting period for preventive care. The preventive plan has no waiting periods whatsoever. Other plans have a six-month waiting period for basic care and 12 months for major services and orthodontics.

Looking For Dental Discounts? Try 1Dental! [3]


Top 6 Dental Insurance Companies Comparison Chart


  • Deductibles – $50/$150
  • Types of Coverage – Basic, major, orthodontic, and preventative
  • Estimaged Premium – $20.58 – $48.48
  • Waiting Period – None for the basic care, 12 months for major services
  • Maximum Benefit Amount Annually – $1,000 – $1,500; Lifetime orthodontic benefits $1,000

#2 Guardian Direct Dental Insurance Plans

  • Deductibles – $50
  • Types of Coverage – Basic, major, and preventative
  • Estimaged Premium – $22.26-$45.75
  • Waiting Period – None for preventive care, 6 months for basic care, 12 months for major services, implants, and orthodontics
  • Maximum Benefit Amount Annually – Up to $1,500

#3 1Dental Insurance

  • Deductibles – Varies
  • Types of Coverage – Discounts on services
  • Estimaged Premium – Varies
  • Waiting Period – None
  • Maximum Benefit Amount Annually – Varies

#4 Humana Dental Insurance

  • Deductibles – $50/$150 annually $150-$450 one-time
  • Types of Coverage – Basic, major, and preventative
  • Estimaged Premium – $31.39-$89.90
  • Waiting Period – 3-6 months for basic care, 12 months for major services
  • Maximum Benefit Amount Annually – Up to $1,500

#5 Spirit Dental Plans

  • Deductibles – $100 one time
  • Types of Coverage – Basic, major, orthodontic, and preventative
  • Estimaged Premium – $20.58 – $48.48
  • Waiting Period – None
  • Maximum Benefit Amount Annually – Up to $5,000

#6 Cigna Dental Insurance Coverage

  • Deductibles – None for the preventive plan, $50/$150 annually
  • Types of Coverage – Basic, major, orthodontic, and preventative
  • Estimaged Premium – $19-$45
  • Waiting Period – None in some cases, 6 months for basic care, 12 months for major services
  • Maximum Benefit Amount Annually – $1,000-$1,500; $1,000 lifetime maximum for orthodontics

**Premium amounts, coverages, and other plan features may vary depending on age, location, and other factors.Check with the dental insurance provider to get an exact quote, estimates only. **

How We Ranked For The Best Dental Insurance Companies

We looked at the number of providers available, the length of waiting periods, maximum benefit amounts, covered services, premiums and deductibles, and plan availability nationwide. Our top picks represent the best plans for specific dental needs.

Dental Insurance Buying Guide

Choosing a dental insurance plan can be confusing if you don’t know what the common terminology means. To help you make a well-informed decision when buying a dental insurance plan for you and your family, we have answers for commonly asked questions.

What Services Are Covered?

Every individual and family has different needs when it comes to dental services. It’s important to address those needs when looking for dental insurance plans. The classification of services covered by different plans varies, so be sure to pay attention to individual policy terms.

Check Out’s Discounts Marketplace

Preventive Care

Most plans cover 100% of preventive care costs. This category covers exams and cleanings and certain other services that vary by plan.


Your provider may require different types of X-rays of your teeth and gums.

Basic Care

This usually covers composite and amalgam fillings, emergency pain relief care, routine tooth extractions, and stainless-steel crowns. Some policies include root canals and periodontal surgery, although others consider these services to be major care items. Check the policies you are considering to see what services are included in basic care.

Major Care

Most plans require major care coverage for anesthesia or sedation, partial or complete dentures, bridgework, oral surgery, and removing impacted wisdom teeth. Dental insurance plans vary regarding what they consider as major care, so be sure to find out which category these services fall under.

Orthodontic Care

Many plans only offer orthodontic coverage to children under 19, and some don’t cover any orthodontic services. Some companies provide orthodontic coverage options to adults, but that is not commonplace.


Not all companies offer coverage for dental implants, and those that do often have lifetime limits.

Cosmetic Dentistry

This category focuses on procedures to improve your mouth’s appearance, such as veneers and teeth whitening. Some policies include implants in this category. Although several companies offer plans that include cosmetic coverage, many do not.

Some cosmetic dentistry services are quite expensive, so if you’re planning to have cosmetic work done, be sure that the dental insurance plan you choose covers these services. Also, note waiting periods and yearly maximum benefits, and see if there are lifetime limits for cosmetic dentistry.

What Is a Maximum Benefit?

Most dental insurance plans have maximum amounts that they will pay every year. If a plan’s maximum annual limit is $1,000, the company will pay up to $1,000 for services in a year.

That doesn’t mean you can get only $1,000 of work done; remember that you’ll be making copayments. After your deductible is met, your plan will pay a specific percentage of the amounts charged for covered dental services. Many dental insurance policies have lifetime limits for certain services as well. For example, orthodontic work usually has lifetime limits; if the lifetime maximum is $1,000, your policy will only pay a total of $1,000 over your lifetime.

Need Major Dental? Check Out Guardian Direct!


What Is a Deductible?

A deductible is an amount that you have to pay out-of-pocket for services before your dental insurance begins to pay. Say that a procedure costs $500 and your deductible is $50. Your insurance company will pay its percentage of $450, which is the amount of the service minus your deductible. Some plans and services have no deductibles, but most do. Deductible amounts can vary between companies and plans.

In most cases, you’ll see something like: “$50 per person, $150 per family.” If you have a family of four that is covered by this dental insurance, once three people meet their individual $50 deductible, the fourth person doesn’t pay a deductible.

What Is a Waiting Period?

A waiting period refers to the amount of time you must wait between purchasing your dental insurance policy and when you can begin receiving benefits. Some companies start your waiting period on the actual date you purchase your policy, while others use the first day of a month.

Most dental insurance plans have no waiting periods for preventive services like routine exams and cleanings. Basic and major care, however, usually has waiting periods between three and 12 months. Many plans increase their basic and major service payment amounts yearly until you reach the third year of coverage.

Is Dental Insurance Worth the Cost?

If you rarely have cavities and only visit your dentist for routine cleanings and exams, you may not save any money by purchasing dental insurance. However, if you need basic or major services often, the right dental insurance plan can save you significant amounts of money depending on the waiting time and copay.

One way to address this concern is to find out how much your dentist charges for needed exams, cleanings, and X-rays for the year, then compare that total to the total premiums, deductible, and copays you would pay for a dental insurance plan. You can also include charges for fillings and other categories of dental work in your yearly expense estimate.

What Are PPOs and HMOs?

A PPO plan usually costs more, but you have access to a wider network of providers. These plans can save you lots of money if you don’t have great oral health and need more services. You’re allowed to choose your own providers, and out-of-network coverage is available in some cases.

HMO plans cost less in premiums, but you can only visit approved providers. You’re usually required to choose one provider who you will be assigned to. Many covered services have no or minimal copayments. If your teeth are healthy and you don’t need many fillings or other corrective work, this type of plan can save money.

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Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)

  • Premiums are charged according to a fee schedule, which varies by plan and state.
  • Policyholders can choose in-network and out-of-network providers.
  • In-network providers file claims for you, but you may have to file claims yourself if you use an out-of-network provider.
  • You pay copayments based on a fee schedule and the length of time that you’ve had your policy.
  • Most plans have yearly maximum benefit amounts; these vary by policy and type of service. Some services have lifetime maximums as well.
  • Although some plans offer one-time deductibles, most plans have both yearly individual and family deductible amounts.

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)

  • Premiums are usually very affordable because providers are pre-paid, though that doesn’t mean that you won’t have to make copayments for some services.
  • Coverage only applies to your assigned provider within your network.
  • Your provider files your claims.
  • You’ll receive a Schedule of Benefits that lists the fees you must pay for covered services.
  • HMO plans don’t have annual maximum benefit amounts.
  • You won’t pay any deductibles.

How Do I Choose the Best Dental Insurance for Me?

Dental insurance plans and coverages vary widely. A wise strategy is to determine the types of coverage that you need and look for plans that offer those options. Then compare premium amounts, deductibles, covered services, waiting periods, and maximum benefits for each plan. Creating a chart of viable plans helps by allowing you to compare them side by side.

Research To Find the Best Dental Insurance for Your Needs

All dental insurance plans are not created equally. Premiums, coverages, copays, waiting periods, and maximum benefits vary significantly between locations and companies. Carefully research plans that are available in your state to be sure that the policy you purchase is the best fit for what you and your family are looking for. Determine what criteria are most important to you, then search for highly rated dental companies and plans that meet your needs. Weigh the pros and cons of each plan to decide which policy works best for you.


The news and editorial staffs of the Bay Area News Group had no role in this post’s preparation.


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