Does Health Insurance Cover Dental?

by Allison Westbrook ; Updated July 27, 2017
Dental bills are more affordable with dental insurance coverage.

According to, the average cost of a dental cleaning is between $50 and $135. However if your visit requires a more expensive treatment, such as a root canal or a filling, your total bill could soar to $1,000 or more. Dental insurance helps curb some of these costs but must be purchased separately or as an add-on to health insurance plans.


You acquire dental coverage in one of two forms. The first is traditional insurance that pays a percentage of each treatment after you pay your deductibles and co-payments. Dental insurance requires a monthly premium and may enact a waiting period before you can visit a dentist. You can also choose to participate in a dental discount plan, which typically works with a limited number of dental providers to offer discounts on frequently used services including cleanings, fillings and root canals. Discount plans usually cost much less than traditional dental insurance.

Private Health Plans

Private health insurance plans do not offer dental benefits. However, many providers offer dental insurance riders that provide dental coverage to the policy holder. These riders, along with vision, maternity and life insurance riders, are fully optional. Some employers that provide health insurance benefits may also provide a separate dental insurance plan for its employees. Alternatively, you can purchase individual or family health insurance in the private market as well.

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Government Health Plans

Some government-sponsored health insurance plans include dental benefits to the insured. For example, though Medicaid is a federal health program for low-income families, the states are responsible for regulating it. The federal government does not require Medicaid plans to offer dental coverage to adults over age 21. Less than half of states provide a comprehensive dental plan for adult Medicaid patients, but almost all of them cover emergency dental services. On the other hand, children under age 21 receive full dental coverage in every state under the child Medicaid program. As for Medicare patients, most dental services are excluded under the Social Security Act.

Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 does not apply to and exempts group dental and vision benefits. However, if you purchase an individual dental policy, the law may restrict lifetime and annual limits on coverage. Children are an exception to the rule. The law allows for preventive services, as well as essential treatments for pediatric patients.

About the Author

Allison Westbrook is an experienced writer of three years with a passion for creating relevant articles for a wide readership. She attended Kilgore College and majored in English. Allison's articles have appeared on such websites as eHow and Her reflective writing angles deliver focused and consistent content.

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