Pros / The basic plans are very affordable.
Cons / It’s not as affordable in the West and South.
Verdict / Delta Dental is the best all-around provider because it’s available in each region at affordable prices and has good coverage options.
Delta Dental is our pick for the best all-around provider because it consistently provides affordable quotes for individuals, couples and families in each region of the U.S. It’s also one of the few insurance providers we reviewed that only provides dental insurance. This gives their service more focus than other insurance providers.
Since finding the best dental insurance plans depends on what is available in your area and what kind of coverage you need, I got quotes for individuals, couples and families of four in each region of the U.S. I considered the coverage options available and how easy each policy was to read and understand.
On average, Delta Dental’s comprehensive coverage plan was about $50.61 per month for individuals, $101.71 for couples and $171.42 for families. Each of these is right in line with the average monthly premiums for this level of coverage. By comparison, the most affordable provider of comprehensive coverage was Physicians Mutual, which was about $15 less per month per person covered.
That said, Delta Dental outlines their procedure for payments and policy stipulations much clearer than some other insurance companies. The benefit of the Delta Dental PPO plan is the upfront understanding of what you will pay. Each procedure the plan covers has a listed percentage of what you pay. For example, you only pay 20 percent for a filling. This makes it easy to know what you’re expected to pay before you agree to the procedure. Often, with cheaper dental plans, the prices have to be negotiated between the provider and the dentist, which means you often don’t know what you’re expected to pay until after the procedure is completed.
The basic coverage plans, DeltaCare USA, are what really stand out with Delta Dental, as the average prices in each region are nearly 40 to 50 percent less than the average cost for similar plans. For example, the average basic coverage plan from all the dental insurance plans I reviewed was $26.60 per month for an individual, $52.40 per month for a couple and $94.41 per month for a family. However, Delta Dental’s basic plan costs $16.40 per month, $32.47 per month and $57.39 per month, respectively.
The downside to the DeltaCare USA plan is that it requires the entire cost of the plan in one payment rather than monthly installments. It’s ideal if you don’t need a lot of dental work. It’s also one of the few plans where you know exactly what you are going to pay for procedures, as each procedure’s price is listed and agreed on with dentists beforehand. Of course, this means you have to visit an approved dentist. Fortunately, the quote process lists the available partners near you.
Variety is a strong point for Delta Dental. Each region I got quotes for offered three plans - a comprehensive plan, a basic plan and something in between. And each plan is clearly defined with what the procedures cost, either by listing the exact price or the percentage you pay. It offers several plans that allow you to find the one that best fits your needs and budget.
The plans pay for 100 percent of the two annual cleanings and for bitewing x-rays. These standard x-rays show tooth decay.
One standout of this dental insurance agency is that some of its plans let you get full mouth x-rays once every two years, which is more frequent than nearly all of the providers we reviewed. Full mouth x-rays are important for detecting issues that happen below the gumline, including tumors or cysts. If you have a family history of mouth and jaw issues, or if you smoke or chew tobacco, this might be an issue to consider when selecting a plan through Delta Dental and something to check in general with other dental plans.
Another important piece of care these plans cover, particularly for children, is tooth sealant. These are coatings that cover the grooves of the teeth to prevent cavities. They are usually done on adult molars. Delta Dental may offer partial compensation for this procedure for children up to 16 years old. This is the average cutoff age for most dental insurance companies. Some of Delta Dental's plans cover orthodontics, too, an important consideration if your children may need braces.
As with most dental insurance providers, Delta Dental has over 140,000 dentists in its national network, which is about average for the companies we reviewed. If your dentist is in-network, you can save additional money. And if you don’t have a preferred dentist, the quote tool provides a list of in-network dentists in your area.
If you get a Delta Dental policy, you can manage it online through the company's secure portal. This company also offers a mobile app, which is a great convenience if you want to take care of something right in the doctor's office so you don't forget later. It pays directly to the dentist, an additional convenience for you.
Overall, Delta Dental offers the best chance of finding good, yet affordable dental insurance, regardless of where you live or what level of coverage you need. This is why it’s the best all-around dental insurance plan.