5 of the Cheapest Dental Plans in the U.S

Bargains are out there but consumers must understand the trade-offs

By Insurance Industry Expert & Author
Updated on
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In this article

Too many people lack dental insurance because they assume it’s as expensive as health insurance. The truth is that dental insurance is typically much less expensive than medical coverage and there are some options that are very affordable even for people with modest incomes. This article will provide you with:

Cheap Dental Plans: Pros & Cons

Paying less for dental coverage involves trade-offs. For many plans, lower cost means fewer dental services covered. Dental services are often characterized as preventive, basic, and major. Below we provide some examples of different services that may be included within each of these categories:

Preventive (service examples include)

  • Annual exam
  • Annual teeth cleaning
  • Annual x-rays

Basic (service examples include)

  • Traditional filling for a cavity
  • Tooth extraction

Major (service examples include)

  • Root canal
  • Crown
  • Root planing

Questions answered and ready to buy?

Things to Consider

Before enrolling in a dental plan, make certain the services it covers matches your oral health needs. Inexpensive dental plans may have waiting periods delaying access to more expensive major services, or they may not cover these services at all. Since dental benefits are not standardized, it is always a good idea to review the specific services covered within a dental plan’s Summary of Benefits or plan brochure.

Another matter to examine when considering low-cost coverage is the choice of dentists associated with an inexpensive dental plan. Low-cost coverage is more likely to be HMO dental plans or dental discount programs with limited dentist options. As healthcare research Kev Coleman has noted, dental insurance is only as good as the dentists who accept it. Consequently, a cheap dental plan is only a bargain if you know you’ll have access to a quality dentist.

Another significant consideration on inexpensive dental plans is the maximum benefit. The maximum benefit is the yearly limit on what an insurance company will spend for your dental care. Inexpensive ppo dental plans are more likely to have a low maximum benefit while a dental hmo plan typically has no maximum benefit limit.

Shopping on Premium vs Total Dental Costs

One of the biggest mistakes consumers make when shopping for dental coverage is considering premiums alone. A premium is the monthly payment made in exchange for coverage. However, dentist insurance costs can extend well beyond these payments because most services come with out-of-pocket costs in the form of copayments or coinsurance fees. If you anticipate using many dental services in a year, be certain to check the out-of-pocket expenses attending them because higher out-of-pocket costs may outweigh the savings of a lower premium.

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Five of the Cheapest Dental Plans in the Nation

Below are five different dental insurance options that each cost less than $25 a month for a single enrollee. Please note that each dental plan may not be available in every region of the U.S.

Careington 500 Series Dental Savings

The Careington 500 Series Dental Savings is one of the lowest priced of the five plan examples in this article. For most enrollees, this plan costs less than $10 a month. The Careington plan is not traditional dental insurance. Instead, the plan is a membership-based savings program where the enrollee has unlimited use of participating dentists and these dentists discount their service rates from 20 percent to 60 percent of market price. Unlike many traditional plans, preventive care such as annual exams and cleanings come with out-of-pocket costs. However, the Careington plan has no maximum benefit that limits annual savings.

DentalInsurance.com offers this discount program in 43 states plus Washington D.C.

MetLife TakeAlong Dental HMO-Managed Care 245 (High)

For $13 a month (or less), enrollees in MetLife’s TakeAlong Dental HMO-Managed Care 245 (High) have coverage for preventive, basic, and major dental care. Covered major care includes root canals, crowns, dentures, and periodontal scaling and root planing.

Two teeth cleanings per year are covered 100% with no out-of-pocket costs for in-network dentists and the annual deductible is $0. The plan also pays 100% of the cost for amalgam fillings. A copay of $25 is charged for resin-based composite fillings (white fillings).

The MetLife brand is a household name and is known for insurance services ranging from life and vision insurance to pet insurance. This particular plan is available through DentalInsurance.com in several states: California, Florida, Texas, and New York.

Ameritas Hollywood Smile Premier 1500 PPO

For consumers seeking more freedom of dentist choice, Ameritas Hollywood Smile Premier 1500 offers the broad options of a Preferred Provider Network. the Costing under $25 a month, the Ameritas Hollywood Smile Premier 1500 PPO is a big value that provides its enrollees with lots of choice with respect to dentists. Unlike some other inexpensive dental PPO plans, the Hollywood Smile Premier 1500 includes coverage for major dental care, not just preventive and basic. Cost coverage for crowns and root canals increases in the second and third year of continuous enrollment.

DentalInsurance.com has this product available in 34 states plus Washington D.C.

Humana Bright Plus PPO

While they may be more famous for their Medicare plans, Humana offers the extremely affordable Humana Bright Plus PPO. Covering a single person around $25 a month, this plan covers preventive and basic dental care. The plan’s $50 deductible is waived for in-network preventive care. The plan also covers 60 percent of the cost of services such as white fillings and teeth extractions.

DentalInsurance.com has this product available in over half the states in the U.S.

Guardian Advantage Starter PPO

Coming in right around $25 a month in many regions, the Guardian Direct Advantage Starter PPO is another PPO option for consumers who don’t like the restrictive dentist networks of HMOs and dental discount cards. The plans has a $50 per enrollee deductible and preventive care is covered immediately. Basic dental care like a filling or tooth extraction is available after 6 months of continuous plan membership.

DentalInsurance.com has the Guardian Advantage Starter PPO available in 42 states.

We can help you find the plan that best suits YOUR needs.

Comparison of Cheap Dental Plans

Below is an overview of costs associated with each of the five dental plans reviewed in this article. All out-of-pocket costs assume in-network healthcare providers.

  Ameritas Hollywood Smile Premier 1500 PPO Careington 500 Series Dental Savings Guardian Advantage Starter PPO Humana Bright Plus PPO MetLife TakeAlong Dental HMO-Managed Care 245 (High)
Plan Type Preferred Provider Organization Dental Savings Plan Preferred Provider Organization Preferred Provider Organization Health Maintenance Organization
Est. Premium for a 33 Year-Old Applicant $23.80 $8.95 $16.82 $20.25 $11.02
Deductible $100 annual deductible per insured person (a maximum of 3 deductibles per family) Not Applicable $50 per person, deductible waived for Preventive Services in Network Only $50 per calendar year, per individual on the plan up to a maximum of $150 per family. (deductible waived for in-network preventive services) None
Annual Cleaning Costs 80% of costs covered in 1st year (increasing in 2nd and 3rd years) $56 100% of costs covered 100% of costs covered 100% of costs covered
Traditional Tooth Filling 50% of costs covered in 1st year (increasing in 2nd and 3rd years) $75 50% of costs covered 60% of costs covered 100% of costs covered
Tooth Extraction 20% of costs covered in 1st year (increasing in 2nd and 3rd years) $95 50% of costs covered 60% of costs covered $5 copayment
Crown 20% of costs covered in 1st year (increasing in 2nd and 3rd years) $836 copayment Not covered Not covered $245 copayment
Root Canal 20% of costs covered in 1st year (increasing in 2nd and 3rd years) From $513 Not covered Not covered $110 copayment
Dental Implant Not Covered 20% discount Not covered Not covered Not covered
Maximum Benefit $1,500 Not Applicable $500 in 1st year (increasing in 2nd and 3rd years) $1,250 Not Applicable
Waiting Periods None None 6-month waiting period for basic care. Major care not covered. 90-day waiting period for basic care. Major care not covered. None


Next Step

Interested in these plans? See which ones are available in your region by visiting our dental insurance quote page.

Need help choosing a plan? Call us at 800-296-3800

Our knowledgeable customer service team will assist you with any questions you may have prior to enrolling in a dental plan. They can guide you through the process of choosing coverage that matches your needs as well as your budget.

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