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The Different Types of Dental Insurance

DHMO Insurance Plan

Dental Health Maintenance Organization

A DMHO plan is the least expensive type of dental insurance. DMHOs are somewhat restrictive, you need to choose a primary dentist who will manage your care and refer you to specialists, and you must always stay within the network for your dental care. There is no annual maximum spending limit and no waiting periods with DHMO plans, but there may be limits on treatment frequency.

Best For: Families/individuals on a budget, people who don't want to wait 6-12 months for restorative care.

Top Dental Insurance Providers include: Cigna, Delta, Humana, and Aetna.

Make sure: You like the dentist/s in the DHMO network, and you ask how long it takes to see a dentist – some networks can be overcrowded, leading to delays in getting appointments.

DPPO Insurance Plan

Dental Participating Provider Network

DPPO plans, often called "PPOs" are widely accepted at dental practices nationwide. These plans offer more choice than DHMOs. You will save more with in-network dentists, but you can go out-of-network. You don't need a referral to see a specialist, but you will need to wait 6-12 months for coverage to activate for anything other than basic, preventive care. Typically, there is a maximum spending limit of $1000-$1500.

Best For: People who want the flexibility to choose their dentist and dental specialists, people with good oral health who primarily need preventive care.

Top Providers: Aetna, Cigna, Delta, Guardian, and United Healthcare

Make sure: You can afford to pay out of pocket for a dental emergency that exceeds your annual spending limit.

Dental Indemnity Insurance Plan

Also known as “traditional” plans

This type of insurance is rarely offered on today's market, and is the most expensive type of dental insurance. It's similar to a PPO, but has an annual maximum spending limit of $2,500 or $3,500+. Plan members pay dentist bill in full, are later reimbursed a set amount. Some plans do impose a waiting period for restorative care.

Best For: People who need a higher spending limit than a PPO provides.

Top Providers: Aetna, Delta(available only through group insurance plans).

Make sure: You can afford to pay the full rate out of pocket for your dental care and wait for a reimbursement.

Man looking forward

Understanding Dental Insurance Terms

Annual Spending Limit

The amount your insurance will cover annually, typically $1,000-$1,500 a year.

Alternate Benefit Clause

You are covered only for the cheapest treatment option.


You pay a percentage of the cost (typically 50%-80% for restorative treatments) of your dental care. (Typically, PPO plans).


You pay a flat fee for a dental service covered by insurance. (Typically, DHMO plans).


The amount you pay out-of-pocket before your coverage begins.


Dentists who have a contract with your insurance company.

Pre-existing conditions

Any dental problems that you had before getting insurance.

Waiting period

The length of time you wait before major dental procedures are covered by your plan.

Top Dental Insurance Companies

AARP Dental Insurance

Dental Insurance and Dental Savings Plans ? No – insurance only.

Members of The American Association of Retired Persons can purchase AARP dental plans administered by Delta Dental. The two AARP plans features comprehensive coverage that is focused on the dental care needs of older people – for example; three cleanings a year as opposed to the more usual two. AARP plans also provide good coverage for crowns, bridges, dental implants and denture needs. But there is a one-year waiting period before you are covered for these services. The network of participating providers is large, and you can see out-of-network providers as well. Since the plan does offer a broad range of coverage for the more expensive treatments, premiums tend to be a bit higher than average. But if your dental needs are a bit more complex than just simple checkups and cleanings, this plan is worth checking out if you are an AARP member.

Aetna Dental Insurance

Dental Insurance and Dental Savings Plans? Yes

Aetna primarily offers group dental insurance through employers, but you can purchase dental insurance directly from the company if you live in specific states (Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Illinois and Pennsylvania). Aetna offers an Aetna PPO Plus and Aetna PPO plan. Plan details may vary according to state, so it's best to visit Aetna's website to review options.

Aetna also provides dental savings plans, an affordable alternative to traditional dental insurance. With dental discount plans there is no annual limit on how often you can save with a plan, and no waiting before you can utilize the discounts . Members of Aetna Vital Dental Savings℠ Plus Rx save an average of 15-50% on most dental services including cleanings, X-rays, root canals , crowns, dentures, dental implants , and braces. The plan provides discounts on both general dental care and specialist care from over 161,000 participating dentists. Members also get – for free – additional savings on vision, hearing and prescription medications. with this plan. Other excellent dental plan options from Aetna include Aetna Vital Dental Savings ℠ and Aetna Dental Access® plans.

Aflac Dental Insurance

Dental Insurance and Dental Savings Plans? No, just insurance

Aflac's dental insurance plan is reasonably priced and enables you to visit any dentist. You pay the dentist in full and are later reimbursed a flat fee depending on the treatment you received. Note that there are long waiting periods associated with many of the procedures covered by this plan.

Unlike many dental insurance plans Aflac's Dental Direct dental insurance allows you to choose any dentist and includes orthodontic and cosmetic options (check plan details for specifics.) There are three plans available: Basic, Standard and Premier. With Aflac dental insurance, you pay the dentist of your choice and are then reimbursed a set fee directly from Aflac. The amount of the reimbursement depends on which of the three plans you chose – Premier has the highest reimbursement fees. Be aware that there are waiting periods ranging from three months (filling) to one year (crowns) for most covered procedures, as well as a two-year waiting period for tooth restoration treatments such as dentures. Aflac dental insurance is well-suited for self-employed people or small businesses who may also be interested in the company's other insurance offerings such as short-term disability insurance. Visit the company's website for details.

Cigna Dental Insurance

Dental Insurance and Dental Savings Plans? Yes

Cigna dental insurance offers a wide variety of dental plan options, making it easy to choose an affordable plan that's right for you. There are, as is typical with insurance, waiting periods for many treatments covered by Cigna insurance plans. Cigna may waive the waiting periods if you were recently covered by another dental insurance plan.

Cigna offers both individual dental insurance and dental savings plans. People with healthy teeth and gums may wish to look at the Cigna Dental Preventive plan, which covers 100% of in-network diagnostic and preventive services with no annual maximum or deductible. Cigna also offers Cigna Dental 1000 ($1000 annual coverage, $50 individual/$150 family deductible) and Cigna Dental 1500 (($1500 annual coverage, $50 individual/$150 family deductible). Coverage includes preventive, diagnostic and restorative services. The 1500 plan has a $1,000 one-time benefit specifically for use with orthodontic treatment. There are, as is typical with insurance, waiting periods of 6-12 months for many treatments. But Cigna may waive the waiting periods if you were recently covered by another, comparable dental insurance plan.

Cigna's dental savings plans offer excellent discounts on dental care. The CIGNAPlus Savings plan gives members average savings of 37% on most dental services including braces, cleanings, x-rays, root canals, crowns, dentures, and dental implants. Discounts are available at both general dentists and specialists. And the CIGNAPlus Savings plan includes additional savings on vision, hearing, and wellness services. Preferred Network Access By Cigna provides dental discounts only, making it a good choice if you have excellent health insurance.

Delta Dental Insurance

Dental Insurance and Dental Savings Plans? Yes

Delta Dental and its affiliates (see AARP above) provide dental insurance plans to nearly 30% of all Americans. Delta Dental has a well-deserved reputation for offering excellent value in its dental insurance plans. The company also does a great job of communicating the details of its plans clearly and providing useful online account management tools. With plans that provide savings for people who only need basic dental care as well as those who require more complex procedures, and a choice between HMO and PPO coverage, Delta provides a wide variety of excellent dental insurance options, and plan specifics vary so check waiting periods, exclusions and annual maximums. A great choice for dental insurance.

Delta also offers dental savings plans, including Delta Dental Patient Direct and Delta Dental Illinois , as well as dental savings plans for residents in other states. Delta's dental savings plans save members an average of 10-50% on most dental services through a network of participating dentists.

Humana Dental Insurance

Dental Insurance and Dental Savings Plans? Yes

Humana offers a selection of dental insurance plans, in an effort to meet a broad variety of needs. Their “Humana Complete Dental” PPO insurance offering is particularly well-suited for people who need insurance without waiting periods for preventive care. And if you had insurance coverage for the 12 months prior to purchasing a “Humana Complete Dental” insurance plan, the waiting period for restorative care (major treatments) is waived.

Humana is the 3rd largest health insurance carrier in the nation, providing coverage to more than 13 million customers. The company offers four dental insurance plans and one dental savings plan. Their dental insurance coverage options range from a plan fully focused on preventive care to one that provides increasing benefits to long-term plan members. Humana Complete Dental Insurance, is a PPO plan particularly well-suited for people who have recently had dental insurance. It is accepted at 260,000 dental locations nationwide. Humana Complete Dental Insurance provides 100% coverage for diagnostic and preventive services (such as checkups and cleanings) with no waiting periods – a great choice for people who want to maintain a healthy smile. If you had dental insurance coverage for 12 months prior to purchasing this insurance, Humana will waive the typical 6-12 month waiting period requirement. That makes this plan a particularly great choice for people who are recently retired, have lost employer dental coverage, or want to switch dental insurance providers. The annual deductible is $50 per person, $150 per family.  The annual maximum spending limit is $1,250 during year 1, which increases to $1500 afterwards, per covered individual – among the highest spending limit for dental insurance, so this is a good plan to look at if you need more than basic preventive care.


Dental Insurance and Dental Savings Plans? No, just insurance

MetLife focuses primarily on dental insurance for businesses, providing dental benefits for over 20 million people, but their TakeAlong Dental insurance plan is available for individuals. TakeAlong Dental savings for in-network dental care average 36% below the average dental fees in the same area. TakeAlong Dental covers hundreds of services/procedures, including cleanings, x-rays, fillings, sealants, root canals, crowns, and orthodontics. The waiting period for treatments beyond basic preventive care range from six months to one year, which is typical for dental insurance plans. If you currently have comparable dental coverage that has been in effect for at least 12 months, you may qualify to have the waiting period waived . MetLife currently has a PPO plan, but the company says an HMO offering is in the works. A solid choice for dental insurance.

Renaissance Dental Insurance

Dental Insurance and Dental Savings Plans? No, just insurance

The Renaissance Family of Companies collectively provides dental coverage for more than 13.1 million people, paying out $3 billion for dental care annually. Renaissance Dental insurance plans include Renaissance Dental's Max Choice Plan, Max Choice Plus, and the Renaissance Dental Plan III. The Renaissance Dental Plan III provides 100% coverage for diagnostic and preventive services when you see an in-network dentist, and covers 50% of the cost of crowns, bridges, fillings, root canals and dentures, and other major dental procedures (after the plan deductible is met). Renaissance offers strong options for people with generally good dental health who still need more than a basic preventive dental insurance plan.


Dental Insurance and Dental Savings Plans? Yes

Solstice provides dental and vision insurance coverage to more than 700,000 people across the nation. They offer dental insurance and dental savings plans to residents of select states (Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey and New York). Solstice dental insurance offerings include DHMO, DPPO, and fee-for-service plans. A great choice if you live in one of the states that Solstice serves.

Solstice's dental savings plans that provide significant discounts on dental care from dentists that participate in Solstice's "Open Access" network – the largest network of its kind. Open Access means that plan members don't need to pre-select a dental care provider (also known as "primary care dentist") and can switch providers as many times as they choose to do so.

Among the highlights of Solstice's offerings for individuals, families and groups is the Solstice Plus Plan One , a comprehensive dental savings plan that's affordable, simple to use, and is proven to provide overall lower out of pocket costs for members. Solstice Plus Plan One includes discounts on virtually all preventive and restorative treatments, as well as orthodontics (braces) and cosmetic dental care (such as teeth whitening , bonding and veneers). Solstice Plus Plan One also includes a free discount prescription drug plan with savings on more than 99% of all commonly prescribed medications.

United Healthcare Dental Insurance

Dental Insurance and Dental Savings Plans? No, just insurance

As you'd expect from a large healthcare policy provider, United Healthcare offers good choices in dental insurance plans making it easy to find the right plan for your needs – such as a plan that offers 100% preventative care coverage to low-cost copay plans. United Healthcare dental insurance also has a large network of dentists nationwide. United Healthcare Dental insurance does not cover all pre-existing conditions (such as restorative care for teeth that were missing before you purchased United HealthCare dental insurance), and has long waiting periods before you can access coverage for basic treatments such as fillings and extractions. Additionally, United HealthCare Dental Insurance does not cover major treatments such as root canals and crowns for one year after plan purchase. There are also restrictions on how often you can get major treatments. Given the waiting times and restrictions associated with this insurance, it could be a good choice for people who enjoy excellent dental health.

Best Insurance Alternative – Dental Savings Plans

Dental savings plans, also known as dental discount plans, are the alternative to dental insurance. You gain access to a nationwide network of dentists who offer discounted rates 10-60%) to plan members. After receiving care, you pay the discounted rate directly to the dentist.

Dental Savings Plans vs. Dental Insurance

Dental savings plans offer several unique advantages over dental insurance.

  • Dental savings plans are much less expensive than dental insurance.
  • You can use a dental savings plan whenever you need to -   no maximum annual or lifetime spending limits .
  • There's no waiting period , you get reduced rates on all included dental treatments within 72-hours of joining.
  • You typically get discounts on care for existing dental health issues , and for dental work that's already in progress.
  • Many plans include additional savings on prescriptions, vision and hearing care and other healthcare services.
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Dentists recommend 2 cleanings, 2 check-ups and 1 set of x-rays per year. We're so confident that your plan will pay for itself*, we will refund your money if it doesn't. Some exclusions apply.


Compare Dental Savings Plans & Insurance

The right solution for your dental health care costs may be a dental savings plan, traditional dental insurance or both. Our :DP AtYourService® team is happy to help you determine what best fits your needs. Call 1-877-212-9025 for help picking the perfect plan for you.

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