Beginner's Guide To: Dental insurance

Many people dislike going to the dentist and for many of us, that's as much a fear of bills as of drills. Because of the growing cost of treatment, more and more of us are taking out dental insurance to make sure going to the dentist is affordable. It's possible to pay monthly or annually and, like any insurance policy, there's a wide level of cover available. The more you agree to pay, the greater the protection you're offered.

What about the NHS?

Completely free dental care on the NHS is only available to a few people, including pregnant women, new mothers, children and anyone living on benefits.

Everyone else is asked to pay for part of their treatment, up to a maximum of £198 for a complete course. Some dental insurance policies will pay for the cost of NHS care, others allow the holder to go private.

What's covered?

Although some cheaper policies only foot the bill for non-routine NHS work, pricier policies cover a broad range of situations.

Some will cover routine dental and hygienist treatment, injuries and any emergency treatment. It's possible to find policies that insure you against oral cancer.

How much does it cost?

Like any insurance, the level of cover you want determines the amount you'll pay. A single person planning to use the NHS for any work could pay less than £10 a month.

Watch out for...

Most dental insurance policies require you to be signed up for a set period, often three to six months, before they will pay out for treatment. A number of providers will set a cap on the total amount they will pay out in any one year, while cosmetic work such as teeth-whitening is unlikely to be covered by a dental policy.

Alternatives

Some dentists allow you to pay a regular monthly amount instead of meeting bills after treatment. This can be an effective way to spread the bills of your routine dental health appointments .

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