How To Find The Best Dental Insurance

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Dental health is a crucial aspect of overall well-being, but dental care in Australia can be a complex and expensive affair. Unlike medical services, Medicare offers very limited coverage for dental procedures. This article gives insights into dental insurance in Australia, empowering you to make informed decisions about your oral health.

The Dental Landscape in Australia

Public dental services are limited in Australia, leaving majority of the dental care to private clinics. This translates to significant out-of-pocket expenses for patients. Statistics reveal that Australians spent around $11.1 billion on dental services in 2020-21 out of which only around $2.2 billion was funded by private health insurance providers, while 59% was paid by patients directly. This disparity highlights the growing need for accessible and affordable dental care.

It is estimated that nearly one third of Australians over 15 years of age have untreated tooth decay. Hence, the Australian Greens are spearheading a policy to provide universal access to free dental, which according to a parliamentary report could cost almost $12 billion every year.

Understanding Dental Coverage under Health Insurance

Unlike medical doctors with standardised fees, dentists set their own prices, leading to cost variations across clinics. Private health insurance bridges this gap by offering dental coverage in two ways:

Hospital Cover: Some insurers offer limited dental coverage within hospital cover, but this is not common.

Extras Cover: Most dental coverage falls under “extras” – an add-on to your primary health insurance policy. Extras plans typically cover a portion of the dental fees, leaving you with the remaining balance, often referred to as the “gap.”

What’s Included in Dental Extras?

Dental extras are categorised into two main areas:

General Dental: This covers routine check-ups, cleanings, fillings, X-rays, and scaling (plaque removal).

Major Dental: This covers more complex procedures like root canals, crowns, bridges, wisdom teeth extractions, dentures, and implants.

It is important to remember that different insurers offer varying levels of coverage within each category. Additionally, dentists set their own fees, so the portion covered by insurance may not fully encompass the total cost.

The Cost of Dental Care and Extras

Dental treatments range from a few hundred dollars for check-ups to tens of thousands for cosmetic procedures. To avoid surprises, it is crucial to confirm treatment costs upfront from your dentist to understand your out-of-pocket expenses.

Strategies for Saving on Dental Extras

Given the complexities of dental insurance, here are some valuable tips to save money:

Know Your Coverage: Discuss your dental needs with your dentist. They can advise you on suitable insurance providers and help you understand your plan’s inclusions and exclusions. Don’t pay for extras you won’t utilise.

Compare Policies: Utilise government (one example is www.privatehealth.gov.au) and private comparison websites to explore different insurance options. This gives you the choice to find a plan that aligns with your budget and oral health requirements.

Combined Limits: Look for plans offering combined limits for specific dental categories. This allows you to utilise the entire limit on various procedures within that category, maximising your coverage.

Factor in Out-of-Pocket Expenses: Consider exclusions, annual caps, and lifetime limits before selecting a policy. Understanding these limitations can prevent financial strain in the long run.

Preferred Providers: Many dentists have affiliations with specific insurers, offering additional benefits for patients with those providers. Explore plans in your area that offer a network of preferred providers.

By following these tips and seeking professional advice, you can navigate the intricacies of dental insurance and make informed decisions about your oral health. Remember, prioritising dental care is an investment in your overall well-being.


Dental care in Australia is primarily offered through private clinics, placing the financial burden on patients. While Medicare offers limited coverage, private health insurance with dental extras helps bridge the gap. Understanding the different coverage options, treatment costs, and out-of-pocket expenses is crucial for making informed choices about your dental insurance. By following the strategies outlined in this article, you can optimise your dental coverage and prioritise your oral health effectively.

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