Do You Need Insurance for Teeth?
Take a look at our fantastic Dental Insurance Guide today, full of helpful information, hints and money saving tips.
Increasingly more and more people are opting for dental insurance in the UK. Even though we’re a nation which is has a reputation for ‘bad teeth’, the majority of adults in Britain actually see their dentist at least once a year.
Dental treatments can be costly, even through the NHS. For example treatment such as a bridge, crowns or dentures can cost as high as £244,30 in England.
By paying a set amount towards a monthly premium, people are realising they can easily protect their smile in a convenient and manageable way.
Dental insurance isn’t only applicable to private healthcare; it can also be used for general treatments provided by an NHS dentist.
Understanding Dental Insurance in the UK
Getting the right type of dental cover can be confusing, but it really isn’t. In Britain there’s two types of cover available:
- A dental policy to cover NHS treatment costs
- A dental plan to cover certain types of private treatment
There’s a common myth that having private insurance means you need to see a private dentist. This isn’t the case. In fact your NHS dentist can also be your private dentist. Most dentists will do both private and NHS work as standard.
For example, let’s say you need a filling, the NHS will only provide grey fillings, however white fillings are classed as ‘private treatment’; thus you’ll be charged a private rate.
People tend to opt for private dentists to by-pass NHS waiting times or because they want a treatment, which isn’t available or applicable to them, on the NHS as standard. This mainly surrounds dental work for cosmetic purposes that the National Health Service won’t cover.
Typical NHS Costs
The time of publication the following amounts state how much dental treatment costs on the NHS. If you find some of these figures expensive, dental insurance may be ideal for you.
- Band 1: £20.60 covers an examination, diagnosis and advice. If necessary, it also includes X-rays, a scale and polish and planning for further treatment.
- Band 2: £56.30 covers all treatment covered by Band 1, plus additional treatment, such as fillings, root canal treatment and removing teeth (extractions).
- Band 3: £244.30 covers all treatment covered by Bands 1 and 2, plus more complex procedures, such as crowns, dentures and bridges.
If you require urgent care, you will only need to pay one Band 1 charge of £20.60. Most urgent treatments can be done in one appointment.
Who Doesn’t Pay for NHS Dental Treatment?
You do not have to pay for NHS dental treatment if, when your treatment starts, you are:
- under 18
- under 19 and in full-time education
- pregnant or you’ve had a baby within the 12 months before treatment starts
- staying in an NHS hospital and the hospital dentist carries out your treatment
- an NHS Hospital Dental Service outpatient (although you may have to pay for your dentures or bridges)
You can also get free NHS dental treatment if, when the treatment starts or when you’re asked to pay:
- you’re included in an award of Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit guarantee credit
- you’re named on, or entitled to, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
- you’re named on a valid HC2 certificate
What Does Dental Insurance Cover?
Dental insurance is available throughout the United Kingdom; most mainstream insurance companies will offer some form of policy.
Remember that each provider will have different ‘levels of cover’, so make sure you’re happy with the cover provided before you sign or agree to any insurance policy.
Typically dental plans can cover the following:
- Routine Check up
- Fillings including root canals
However there is a different between NHS and private dental providers. In basic terms the NHS will only offer treatments when there’s a medical need. However most private dentists will offer treatment for both medical reasons and cosmetic.
- NHS Dental Insurance – If you’re happy with your NHS dentist and like the treatment’s they provide, you can get a NHS-only dental cover plan. This means you will pay monthly to cover the costs of your NHS treatment. Typically most people use the NHS for dental care in the UK. You need to weigh up how often you get work done and see if NHS dental insurance is correct for you. Sometimes if you only need routine checkups and the odd treatment every few years, NHS cover may not work out favourable for you. Typically NHS only insurance will cover dental work, which needs addressing for medical purposes.
- Private Dental Insurance – Typically a private dental plan will cover more options than the basic NHS-only policy. This means you may have a larger range of dental practices, which offer treatments. Equally, you may have specialised dentists who perform ‘niche’ procedures. For example, let’s say you want braces for cosmetic purposes, with private dental insurance your insurer may recommend you visit a dentist who specialises in ‘orthodontic’ treatments. Generally more complex dental work could be better suited to private providers too, however this does vary depending on individual circumstances.
It’s important to remember that some insurance policies will ‘pay’ the full cost of treatment, but may ask you to pay an excess for expensive or emergency procedures.
As each insurer is different, you need to read all terms and conditions to see what you are covered for and if any additional charges are applicable.
Who Needs Dental Insurance?
Unlike other forms of treatment by the NHS, Dental work is rarely ‘free’ for the majority of people. A part from standard appointment fees, there can also be charges depending on the level of treatment needed.
Sometimes treatment can be expensive, particularly if a lot of work is required. You may need to pay for additional things such as anaesthetics, which may not be covered as standard.
Equally other treatments such as braces can be expensive too. Usually you’ll only receive braces on the NHS if there’s a ‘medical need’. This means if you would like your teeth straightened to enhance your smile or for a cosmetic reason, you will most likely have to pay. Treatments such as these can easily run into hundreds, if not thousands of pounds.
Taking out a dental cover plan means you have a whole range of options available to you. You can get ‘NHS only’ insurance or have a mixture between ‘NHS and Private’ insurance.
If you purchase a policy covering both NHS and private work, this can mean, you may get dental work done faster, if the NHS cannot provide the service in a timely manner. Typically your insurance provider will inform you of alternative dental practices in your local area, which can undertake the treatment you need.
Cosmetic Dental Plans
The NHS tends not to treat patients who require ‘cosmetic’ treatment that is not clinically necessary. This can include braces to straighten your teeth for a better smile, teeth whitening, veneers and so on. Generally these types of treatments are only available privately.
This doesn’t mean that you need to visit a private dentist though, your NHS dentist can do the treatment for you, but charges for private work will be added to the regular charges you pay for NHS treatment.
However you may find that ‘specialised’ dental work will be done by a private dental practice. This can include modern procedures such as Invisalign braces. Generally you will not find treatments such as this, available on the NHS. If you would like to find out more, please Click Here to read our Invisalign Guide today.
Things to Consider
Here are some good points to consider before purchasing dental insurance in the UK:
- Duration – Generally most dental plans will have a ‘time limit’ from the date the policy starts. This means you won’t be able to claim on the insurance within a specified time frame. This can usually range from the first 4 to 12 weeks.
- Age Limit – Not applicable to all providers, however some will have age limits applied. This means they may not insurance anybody under 18, or higher than 70.
- Pre-Existing Medical Conditions – You may find that most insurers will not cover anybody with a pre-existing medical condition. Each insurance company will have different rules on what is and isn’t a medical condition.
- Smoking – Increasingly some providers may not insure you, if you’re a regular smoker. This doesn’t always have to be limited to standard tobacco; it can sometimes include cigars, pipes and e-cigarettes too.
Dental Insurance Money Saving Tips
We all want to save money, if you’re in the market and thinking about purchasing dental insurance, these super money saving tips might just bring your premiums down!
- Job – For some people, it can be a great idea to check whether their job has dental insurance included as a perk. Some companies do have plans, which covers their employees. Equally if you’re part of a union you may also get dental cover at a cheaper rate. Speak to a manager or representative to see if this applies to you.
- Excess – If your budget allows you should state a higher excess to try and keep premiums low. Remember this excess will need to be paid in the event of a claim.
- No Claims Bonus – Just like car insurance, you can easily build up your no claims bonus with dental cover. If you haven’t claimed for a few years, you should find a nice little bonus the next time you renew!
- Multi-Policy – Sometimes it can be a great idea to ‘group together’ and get a multi-policy. This can be ideal for families or couples. Generally you should get a discount compared to insuring each person individually.
- Specific Treatments – If you’re happy with your general NHS checkups, some policies may be purchased for specific treatments. This can include more expensive dental work such as bridges, crowns and braces. This means you will only be able to ‘claim’ should this level of work need carrying out. However, your policy price may be lower than having a wider range of treatments covered.
Original Publication: 31 May 2017
Last Updated: 11 August 2017