Home > Insurance

Dental Insurance For College Students

Last modified: Jul 25, 2023

To enjoy good dental health, you have to visit your dentist regularly for preventive care and other services. However, determining which dental insurance is best can be difficult for college students. Among various other things students have to juggle, dental insurance is an integral part that is often overlooked. 

Having a proper dental insurance plan is crucial to maintaining your overall health. If college students don’t have a lot of funds, more affordable dental insurance plans are also available. 

This guide on dental insurance for college students will help you learn all about different types of insurance plans and their coverage details. We’ll also look at some of the best dental insurance providers in the market.

Let’s get started. 

How Dental Insurance Works

Dental insurance offers a wide variety of coverage for dental procedures, including root canals, crowns, fillings, and preventive care services. It works like any other insurance and requires one to make monthly insurance premium payments. Deductibles and copayments also apply.

The benefits of the dental plans vary depending on the coverage you select and your insurance provider. It’s essential to thoroughly go through the benefits documents to ensure you have the right plan. 

You might be wondering, are college students required to have health insurance? 

It depends on the university or college you select. The majority of the educational facilities in the country require students to be covered by a health insurance plan. However, students under 26 years of age may already be covered by their parent's health care plan in most cases.

Types of Dental Insurance

Let’s review different types of dental insurance plans, so you can understand which one better suits your needs.

Dental Preferred Provider Organization (DPPO)

With the DPPO, you can select a dentist from the network of providers. While you can still consult a doctor outside of the network, it’ll cost you more. There is no requirement to choose a primary care dentist. 

DPPOs usually have a coinsurance and annual deductible. When you meet your deductible, your insurance will kick in to share the costs with you. Most preventive services like routine X-rays, exams, and cleanings are covered 100%. However, you may be required to make a copayment before receiving the services not considered preventive. 

The DPPO can keep the costs lower if you consult the in-network dentists. It’s one of the most popular and common dental plans. 

Dental Health Maintenance Organization (DHMO)

DHMO plans are considered more affordable than other dental plans. Typically, there is no deductible and only a set fee for non-preventive services. The majority of the preventive care, including routine X-rays, exams, and cleanings, is covered 100%. 

Since you have to select a primary care dentist from the network, the costs are lower. The DHMO plans usually don’t offer coverage for out-of-network dentists, but there might be some exceptions for emergency services. 

The networks of dentists are usually more local and smaller, but they offer lower costs. These dental plans don’t have an annual maximum for covered services, meaning you won’t have to worry about running out of the yearly benefits no matter how many services you use. 

In case you need to see a specialist, your primary care dentist will refer you to a provider within the network. 

Dental Indemnity

This is the dental plan that offers you plenty of freedom and is also referred to as a fee-for-service or traditional dental plan. You can consult any dentist you prefer as there is no network. There is no need to select a primary care doctor. Also, you don’t require referrals to receive emergency care or consult a specialist. 

This plan typically has an annual coinsurance and deductible. You’ll pay for the services yourself until you meet the deductible. Only then can you share the costs with your dental plan, up to whatever amount is considered usual, customary, and reasonable (UCR) as per the plan you selected. 

While these dental plans are costlier than others, they give you plenty of options with fewer requirements. 

Dental Exclusive Provider Organization (DEPO)

With this dental plan, you get to choose between consulting specialists and general dentists. There is no need to choose a primary care dentist or get referrals to consult specialists. 

However, you have to select in-network dentists if you want to be covered. Some exceptions might apply to consulting out-of-network dentists for certain dental emergencies. 

These dental plans have coinsurance and a deductible. 

Dental Point of Service (DPOS)

The DPOS is the dental plan that combines the aspects of DPPOs and DHMOs.

Just like with DHMO, you can choose your primary care dentist who will give you referrals to specialists if needed, outside or in the network. Like with DPPO, you can easily consult out-of-network dentists, but the cost will be lower if you select the in-network specialist. 

This freedom may mean higher copays, plan premium, and deductible, depending on your selected plan. If you don’t plan to consult out-of-network dentists, DHMO may be a cost-effective option for you. 

What Does Dental Insurance Cover?

Your coverage benefits depend on the plan you select. Typically, dental insurance covers fillings, crowns, preventative care, and teeth cleanings. Some plans also cover prosthodontics, periodontics, and orthodontics. 

In general, the dental insurance coverage will include the following benefits:

  • Emergency dental services, like oral surgery
  • Dental appliances, like retainers
  • Root canals and other repair work
  • Implants, bridges, and crowns
  • Tooth extractions
  • Cavity fillings
  • Regular cleanings and checkups
  • X-rays

It’s essential to note that dental insurance providers might cover some procedures at different coverage levels. Usually, preventive care is covered fully, while emergency services or fillings might require out-of-pocket costs. For example, you’ll have to pay the difference if you want composite fillings. But you'll be provided coverage for amalgam fillings.

Here are some of the procedures that are usually not covered in dental plans: 

  • Cosmetic services, like teeth whitening
  • Pre-existing dental conditions
  • Orthodontic procedures, like braces

However, all insurance policies differ, which is why it’s essential to go through all the benefits and limits to make an informed decision. 

Do College Students Get Free Dental Care?

There is no free health insurance for college students. However, some plans provide discounts to students or low-income individuals. 

Health insurance for students under 26 may be available under their parent's insurance. Otherwise, you’ll be responsible for getting coverage on your own. You might also consult your college or university for insurance options. 

But do colleges offer health insurance?

Most of the big universities and colleges do offer health insurance to their students. These health plans are specially designed to fit the students’ budget. They can be one of the best options for affordable health care. However, dental plans aren’t that common, and even when they’re available, they’re not free. Still, they might be an option for you because they’re designed with a student's budget in mind. 

How Long Can a College Student Stay on Parent's Health Insurance?

Under the Affordable Care Act, if you are covered under your parent's insurance plan, you can enjoy their health policy benefits until the age of 26. You can remain under their health insurance plan even if you get married. 

Unfortunately, there is no dependent health insurance coverage for age 27, as individuals have to get their own health insurance once they turn 26 years old. 

Can I Get Dental Insurance Through the ACA Dental?

You can get dental coverage through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. You can head over to heathcare.gov and browse through the dental insurance marketplace to compare the available dental plans in your area and enroll in the one that best meets your requirements. 

Dental insurance coverage through ACA has two categories: 

  • High Coverage: The high-level coverage has a lower deductible and copayments but a higher premium. You will have to make higher monthly payments but pay less when you have to use dental services. 
  • Low Coverage: The low-level coverage has a higher deductible and copayments but a lower premium. You will have to make lower monthly payments but pay more when you have to use dental services. 

These plans are available as standalone and can also be bundled with some health policies. You have to compare the dental plans in the marketplace to find out more details about the covered services, deductibles, copayments, and overall costs. You may have to consider private dental insurance if you don’t find what you are looking for. 

Do College Students Qualify for Medicaid?

Depending on the state you live in and your income, you may be eligible for Medicaid. Moreover, your eligibility may also be linked to your family size and disability status. 

Generally, students or families with an income of up to 133% of the federal poverty level can qualify for Medicaid. Moreover, only US nationals and certain qualified non-citizens are eligible for this health care. 

Can International Students Get Dental Insurance?

If you are a visiting scholar with J1 or J2 visa or a foreign student with F1 or F2 visa, you can get either a medical and dental package plan or only a dental insurance plan. The medical and dental package doesn’t provide comprehensive dental benefits but still meets the visa insurance requirements of most schools. 

Additionally, more options are available for international students looking for affordable dental coverage, and the most popular ones are the discount dental plans offered by a few companies. 

Keep in mind that these are not insurance plans, but they allow you to get the dental services you need at a lower cost. Once you get a discount dental plan, it will include a list of doctors you can visit who will charge you the pre-specified fee for the services. 

Some of the best insurance plans for international students are as follows:

  • ExchangeGuard (COVID-19 coverage included)
  • Navigator Student
  • Patriot America
  • Patriot Exchange Program (COVID-19 coverage included)
  • Student Health Advantage (COVID-19 coverage included)
  • Student Secure (COVID-19 coverage included)
  • Study USA (COVID-19 coverage included)

It’s essential to thoroughly go through each plan to ensure you find the right one for your needs. 

Do Dentists Offer Student Discounts?

Some dentists offer a special price for student dental care services. However, that’s not very common, and you have to consult your dentist or insurance provider to determine if there are any dental discount plans available. 

What are the best dental insurance providers for a College Student?

Here are the five best dental insurance providers that offer good options for college students:

  • Cigna Dental Insurance

Cigna insurance offers the widest coverage in the country, with over 180 million customer and patient relationships globally. It has a network of more than 93,000 dental specialists and dentists. If you are looking for quality service and numerous options, this is the right choice for you. 

  • Aetna Dental Insurance 

Aetna is one of the best insurance providers for low-income students and individuals. It offers preventive dental plans, including regular cleanings and checkups to prevent costly dental procedures. 

Most of the plans cover all or some of the routine care, including X-rays, fillings, cleanings, and oral exams. It also provides one of the most affordable dental insurance coverage, with plans starting at $22 per month. 

  • UnitedHealthOne Dental Insurance

This insurance provider is more popular for family plans, but it also offers comprehensive individual dental insurance plans. It has been ranked among the top insurance providers in the country. There are no age limits on any plans, and most of them include preventive care and other basic coverages. 

  • Humana Dental Insurance

Humana is popular for its value and discounts. The insurance provider has 60 years of experience in providing people with multiple dental plans. It has a network of over 260,000 dentists and doesn’t require any pre-enrollment payment or underwriting to purchase coverage. 

  • Delta Dental 

Delta Dental is one of the biggest dental insurance providers in the country, with more than 155,000 dentists in the network. It offers group and individual insurance through the healthcare exchange marketplace. 

Individuals on a budget can take advantage of some of Delta’s plans. Additionally, the company provides affordable dental insurance for students in specific universities and colleges. You must get in touch with your university to determine if there are any such options available.  

Things to Consider When Looking for Dental Coverage 

Here are a few things to take into consideration when looking for the right dental insurance policy:

    • Waiting Period: There is usually a waiting period of 6–12 months, depending on your policy. 
    • Deductible: Just like other insurance coverages, it’s essential to determine the deductible amount on your dental plan and ensure that you can afford it. 
  • Enrollment Fee: Various policies require you to make an upfront enrollment fee to get a dental service. 
  • Type of Plan: Consider checking out the benefits of the plan you are planning to purchase. Be sure to compare it with other plans to find the best one for you. 

How Much Is Dental Insurance per Month?

The average cost of dental insurance is about $360 per year, which comes to between $15 and $50 per month. The rates vary depending on the coverage and the state you reside in. With student insurance plans, the costs might be lower, depending on the plan. 

Is Dental Insurance Worth the Cost?

Definitely! Dental insurance is integral to maintaining good oral health and overall wellness. It ensures that you get preventative care at affordable costs and also reduces the expenses of unexpected dental services, like a cavity or broken tooth. 

In fact, your annual premiums may be less than the cost of two regular checkups without an insurance plan! 

Many college students overlook the significance of dental insurance. Since some of you have been covered by your parent's insurance since childhood, you might not be aware of the actual dental services costs without dental insurance. 

If you’re still wondering whether dental insurance for college students is worth it, check out our guide once again to help you make up your mind.


What is the best and cheapest dental insurance?

Humana provides the most affordable dental insurance plans. You can choose from three different dental plans. Besides, this insurance company has a huge network of dentists. It also offers low deductibles and affordable premiums. 

Which is better, PPO or DMO?

Generally, the DMO plans are considered more affordable, but PPO plans provide better flexibility. The only way to determine which plan is better is to figure out which one meets most of your needs. 

Is there a dental plan that covers everything?

An indemnity insurance plan is the closest thing to getting almost everything covered in your dental insurance. It may not be the most affordable dental insurance for college students. However, you can consult any dentist as there aren’t any approved providers and networks with this plan. 

Policy Advice is a website devoted to helping everyday people make, save, and grow money. While our team is comprised of personal finance pros with various areas of expertise, nothing can replace professional financial, tax, or legal advice.

Policy Advice is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.Policy Advice is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

Stay In Touch


About Website

© Copyright 2022 PolicyAdvice.net. All rights reserved.