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Best Dental Insurance in 2024: Comparison of Top Plans

This article examines the top dental insurance companies in 2024. Americans pay more for dental care than individuals in most other countries, but these companies offer policies that help mitigate the costs associated with dental care. We'll provide an in-depth look into each company, its policies, and the qualities that make it appealing to individuals with specific needs and preferences.

Best dental insurance: shortlist

  1. Metlife — a variety of policies to cover different procedures
  2. Delta Dental — coverage for the most immediate preventive care needs
  3. Guardian Direct — affordable with easy access to customer support
  4. Cigna — dental plans for those who want coverage for other services
  5. Ameritas — best for individuals who want a broad selection
  6. Anthem — great extensive coverage options
  7. Humana — best for those seeking an insurer with established success

What is dental insurance?

Dental insurance provides coverage for various dental procedures. This is necessary because health insurance does not cover most dental procedures, and to get dental care without incurring the total costs, you will need dental insurance. Otherwise, dental work can be costly, especially if it's a procedure like dental implants or oral surgery.

This type of insurance typically covers preventive (e.g., diagnostic procedures and cleanings), basic (such as filings and extractions), and significant (including oral surgery, dental implants, and root canals) procedures. Plans often have an annual maximum benefit, which is the most a plan will cover for dental services in a year. Plans may also have enrollment fees and deductibles along with monthly premiums. Many policies feature waiting periods, the amount of time that must pass before the plan's coverage takes effect. Some policies will make exceptions for preventive treatments; in this instance, the waiting period would only apply to basic and major procedures.

Plan types include preferred provider organization (PPO), health maintenance organization (HMO), indemnity, and discount plans.

Why would you need dental insurance?

It would be best to have dental insurance because most health insurance policies don't cover the services associated with dental care (e.g., root canals, cleanings, implants, and fillings). Much like medical emergencies, dental problems can occur unpredictably. If you don't have dental insurance to help cover the treatment, you could be paying more than you can afford for your care.

That's not to say dental insurance should only be purchased to cover serious dental procedures. Its preventive care coverage is equally valuable because it allows you to treat dental issues before they evolve into severe, more costly conditions. If a problem worsens, you not only incur the costs of the procedure required to treat it, but you may also have to cover the prescription medications for pain relief (although the medications can be covered under insurance, too).

Best dental insurance companies in 2024

We have constructed our list of the best dental insurance companies for those looking to enroll in a policy. These companies provide affordable coverage, and each has its own strengths regarding the benefits it provides for its policyholders.

1. MetLife — a variety of policies to cover different procedures

MetLife Dental makes it easy
Via dentalinsurance.com

MetLife has been in business since 1868 and provides multiple dental insurance policies and other types of insurance. Because of its quality, this company has earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Many businesses use MetLife as their insurance provider, as it serves over 90 of the top 100 Fortune 500 companies in the United States.

These dental plans can cover such procedures as annual cleanings, fillings, root canals, and extractions at discounted rates. The policy handles a percentage of the procedure costs for the PPO plans, and the policyholder covers the remaining fraction. Its HMO policies allow policyholders to receive certain services for a flat fee. The amount of coverage a policy will provide depends on what policy the policyholder enrolls in.

Policies offered: PPO, HMO

2. Delta Dental — coverage for the most immediate preventive care needs

Trusted smiles begin with Delta Dental
Via dentalinsurance.com

Delta Dental has been operating since 1966 and is the largest dental insurance provider in the country. Over 80 million individuals are insured by Delta Dental. Unsurprisingly, Delta Dental has a large network of dental practitioners who accept its coverage. Delta Dental is made up of 39 independent companies, including Dental Dental Company, Delta Dental of Washington, Delta Dental of California, and Delta Dental of New York.

This company offers PPO coverage that does not require a waiting period for preventive services. It also provides policies that do not require a waiting period for basic and major procedures, although these policies do require a 12-month wait before orthodontic services will be covered. Those who want immediate coverage and the freedom to choose among an extensive network of dentists may feel this is the best dental coverage. However, Delta Dental insurance plans can vary between states, so check what is available in your area.

Policies offered: PPO

3. Guardian Direct — affordable with easy access to customer support

Get Guardian Direct dental insurance
Via dentalinsurance.com

This company has provided insurance coverage for over 160 years. Guardian Direct's plans are affordable, with some policies costing just $15 monthly. Those who enroll in Guardian Direct's dental insurance can have 24/7 access to an online portal to access claims, find in-network dental providers, and make premium payments. Members can also contact the support team Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern time, via phone, email, or chat.

Its policies include Advantage Achiever, Advantage Diamond, and Advantage Starter. These are PPO plans with varying levels of coverage, with Advantage Diamond offering the most coverage and coverage for whitening procedures. At the same time, Advantage Starter primarily covers preventive and basic services.

Policies offered: PPO

4. Cigna — dental plans for those who want coverage for other services

Confidence and convenience: Cigna dental insurance
Via dentalinsurance.com

While Cigna's roots date back over 200 years, the company as it is known today began in 1982. It has a strong reputation, having earned an A+ BBB rating. Cigna is also reputable for its financial strength, having earned an A from AM Best. This company is considered to be the fastest-growing insurance provider and has over 19 million policyholders, of which roughly 1.2 million are located outside of the U.S.

Its dental coverage comes in the form of PPO plans, which include Cigna Dental 1500 (which strictly covers dental work) and Cigna Dental Vision Hearing 3500 (which covers dental, vision, and hearing services). Both of these policies are PPO plans that cover 100% of the expenses for cleanings and oral exams, and both plans cover procedures such as fillings, tooth extractions, and crowns. However, neither plan covers dental implants.

Policies offered: PPO

5. Ameritas — best for individuals who want a broad selection

Smile with confidence with Ameritas
Via dentalinsurance.com

Ameritas has provided dental insurance to individuals and families since 1959. It has an extensive network of providers, with over 592,000 access points. AM Best rates Ameritas as A for its financial strength. It provides its services in all 50 U.S. states, and those who enroll in a policy from Ameritas can have next-day coverage for certain services.

It features many plans, which include Dallas Smile Plan, Hollywood Mega Smile, Hollywood Smile Premier, and Hollywood Smile Premier Plus. It offers PPO and indemnity plans; more extensive plans can provide an annual maximum benefit of $2,000. Plans may also offer hearing benefits, white fillings, root canals, extractions, and preventive services. Coverage will vary based on the plan chosen.

Policies offered: PPO, indemnity

6. Anthem — great extensive coverage options

Anthem dental insurance has you covered
Via dentalinsurance.com

Anthem, also known as Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield or Anthem Blue Cross, is one of the largest health benefits providers in the U.S. It has an A+ BBB rating and has received positive feedback from publications such as Fortune Magazine, which named it the #1 Most Admired Company within the Health Care Provider section in 2020.

Anthem's Essential Choice Dental Plans are a popular line of dental policies. These include the Essential Choice Bronze, Essential Choice Silver, Essential Choice Gold, and Essential Choice Platinum. The more extensive coverage options may be the best dental insurance for major dental work, as its more extensive coverage products cover orthodontic procedures and dental implants.

Policies offered: PPO

7. Humana — best for those seeking an insurer with established success

Experience Humana dental insurance
Via dentalinsurance.com

Humana is recognized for its Medicare coverage but has also gained popularity as a dental insurance provider since it was formed in the early 1970s. Its broad network of dentists, accolades from publications, and appearances on many other "best of" lists have proven this company's merits as an insurer.

Humana provides dental plans such as Preventive Plus, Loyalty Plus, Humana Extend, and the Humana Dental Value Plan. These plans offer 100% coverage for annual cleanings; yearly maximum benefits can be as high as $2,500. However, looking at the services covered is essential, as not all policies cover significant procedures. This company also provides a policy combining PPO coverage with vision coverage, which can benefit those wanting bundled coverage.

Policies offered: PPO, HMO, PPO+Vision

Best dental insurance companies in 2024: a comparison

The following table compares each company, what it has to offer, and the most the policy will spend on dental procedures for each year:

CompanyPolicy typesPopular optionsHighest annual maximum offered
TakeAlong Dental High, TakeAlong Dental Medium, TakeAlong Dental HMO-Managed Care 245 (High), TakeAlong Dental HMO-Managed Care 350 (Low)
Delta DentalPPODental for Everyone Gold PPO, Dental for Everyone Platinum PPO, Dental for Everyone Immediate Coverage
Guardian DirectPPOAdvantage Achiever, Advantage Diamond, and Advantage Starter$1,500
CignaPPOCigna Dental 1500, Cigna Dental Vision Hearing 3500$2,500
AmeritasPPO, indemnity
Essential Choice Bronze, Essential Choice Silver, Essential Choice Gold, Essential Choice Platinum$3,000 (starting third year of coverage)
AnthemPPOEssential Choice Bronze, Essential Choice Silver, Essential Choice Gold, Essential Choice Platinum$2,500
HumanaPPO, HMO, PPO+VisionPreventive Plus, Loyalty Plus, Humana Extend, Humana Dental Value Plan$2,500

What to look for in dental insurance

When shopping for a dental insurance plan, you must take multiple factors into consideration before enrolling. These are factors such as:

  • Coverage details. Some policies strictly cover preventive and basic procedures. Others offer more extensive coverage, including major dental procedures.
  • Network size and availability. The network size reflects your options for dentists who will accept your coverage. If you opt for a more extensive network, you'll find a dentist who will accept your policy more easily.
  • Cost factors. Premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance costs are all factors to consider.
  • Waiting periods. In many cases, your coverage won't begin immediately. However, some dental plans omit waiting periods for preventive and basic procedures.
  • Annual maximums and lifetime limits. Dental insurance doesn't offer infinite coverage. Typically, your insurer will pay a maximum amount for the year. However, some policies allow members to use preventive services without them counting toward the annual maximum.

Ranking the top dental insurance companies

As we compiled our list of the top dental insurance companies in 2024, we considered the following criteria for when ranking the best dental insurance plans:

  • Overall value. These companies offer policies that have attractive benefits at a reasonable price.
  • Policies offered. Many of these companies not only offer a variety of plans with varying degrees of extensiveness, but types of plans as well. Offerings may include PPO, HMO, and indemnity plans to match the policyholder's desired level of coverage and how the coverage functions.
  • Financial strength. These companies are highly reputable when it comes to financial strength. Financial strength reflects the company's ability to cover its share of the costs when claims are filed.
  • Online reputation. Our list of the top dental insurance plans have a strong online reputation. Customer reviews and those from established publications factored into our ranking.
  • Number of complaints. We considered the amount of negative reviews relative to positive reviews. With these companies, the positive reviews outnumber the negative responses.

How to maximize your dental insurance benefits

Maximizing your dental insurance benefits begins before you enroll in a policy. The key is to research the policies available in your area and compare the benefits and costs of dental insurance policies. This will give you an idea of how long you will need to wait before your coverage kicks in, the amount you'll pay in deductibles, and the out-of-pocket costs for procedures covered under your plan.

Once you've obtained your policy, take advantage of the preventive care coverage. Sometimes, preventive and basic care won't count toward your annual maximum. Yet, it is possible that you can utilize these services without paying anything out of pocket with some plans, maintaining good dental hygiene, and getting dental issues treated before they become severe and require major dental work. Another way to maximize your coverage is to keep it since many dental plans increase coverage over the first three years.

Filing a dental insurance claim: step-by-step guide

As a patient, you are not the one filing the dental insurance claim. Once you get a service that is covered by your dental insurance policy, your dentist will be the one filing the claim. Claims can be filed via mail or electronically on the dentist's end. Dentists will correspond with a dental consultant who will decide whether to approve the claim based on the treatment provided and the basis for the procedure.

Claims can be denied or delayed if the dentist forgets to input patient information, particularly the member ID number. Dentists may submit claims online, allowing them to attach images, such as X-rays and charts. It should be noted that whether the procedure was necessary does not always mean a particular plan would cover it. In this case, a claim can be denied based on the patient's coverage limits.

How to switch dental insurance plans

Switching to a different dental insurance policy can be done during open enrollment. You can join a plan different from your current dental insurance policy. This takes place one to two months before your plan goes into effect when you enroll. If you enroll in a plan and change your mind during this point, you can change policies. You can also switch plans if you have a life event, such as having a child, getting married or divorced, or changing jobs.

If you want to enroll in a different plan with the same insurer, you can get your dental insurance coverage without going through a waiting period before the new coverage kicks in. Contact your insurer and inform them that you wish to enroll in a different dental insurance policy. You will then transition to the new coverage you signed up for and have the costs and benefits associated with the coverage you switched to.


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