The 8 Best Dental Carriers in Canada

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    Canada’s public health insurance plans do not offer an adequate level of coverage for dental treatment, despite the gradual roll-out of the Canadian Dental Care Plan. According to the Canadian Dental Association, the average annual amount spent on dental care in Canada is $378 per person. As a result, Canadians must turn to private dental insurance. Fortunately, Canada has excellent dental insurance companies that allow anyone to avoid being stuck with a dental bill that is difficult to pay.

    Distinctive Feature
    Flexible plans
    3 levels of insurance
    Affordable premium
    Comprehensive health insurance
    Guaranteed approval
    80% coverage
    Up to $1,000 per year
    For people leaving group insurance

    Manulife – Flexible plans

    Manulife is one of the biggest health and dental insurance carriers in Canada. It offers a comprehensive range of coverage with multiple options.

    Manulife is an option to consider if you are not eligible for a group insurance plan, either through your employer or your spouse’s employer. For example, Flexcare health and dental lets you choose a basic Dental Plus plan. It covers $575 to $750 worth of dental care each year. With Manulife, you get round-the-clock access to a network of healthcare professionals via an application. There are six other plans to cover most needs!

    Blue Cross – 3 levels of insurance

    The Blue Cross operates in most provinces and provides insurance services to several provincial governments. It is also a dental insurer offering individual coverage with simple options, each covering different levels of treatment, and sets limits depending on the option chosen. In addition, Blue Cross offers a Guaranteed Approval plan, should you find it difficult to insure elsewhere.

    Basic dental coverage pays 60% of your dental costs, up to a limit of $500. Teeth extractions, root canals and orthodontics are not covered, among other things. You must also wait three months before being eligible for exams, cleanings, fillings and x-rays. To access this plan, you must subscribe to Complete Health, which includes coverage at all health professionals (podiatrist, occupational therapist, dietician, etc.).

    GMS – Affordable premium

    GMS is a medical and dental insurance company offering a basic medical insurance policy that allows you to add different levels of dental care for you and your family. It also offers a range of medical insurance policies, all of which can include dental coverage. Please note, however, that GMS does not offer its insurance products in Quebec, New Brunswick or Nunavut. The basic individual plan, however, is priced low enough to attract eligible Canadians, at $6.75 per month.

    Sun Life – Comprehensive health insurance

    Sun Life, one of Canada’s largest insurance companies, is also a dental insurer, offering a range of options for both individuals and employers. It’s well worth considering, either as a complement to your employer’s medical insurance plan, or if you’re not eligible for an employer plan.

    To get dental coverage, you must enrol in a broader Sun Life personal health insurance plan. The basic plan covers 60% of preventive dental care, up to a maximum of $500 per year. What is included is very similar to that provided by Blue Cross.

    Green Shield Canada – Guaranteed approval

    Green Shield Canada (GSC) is another insurer that offers medical and dental insurance under the brand name SureHealth, with guaranteed approval. The insurance company offers medical, dental and travel insurance policies. It should also be noted that it does business in all Canadian provinces.

    The Zone Fundamental plan includes a variety of health protections, including dental. Interestingly, basic dental care (such as cleaning, examination, fillings, extractions) is paid at 70%, whereas most insurers limit coverage to 60%. The annual limit, however, is set at $450.

    Desjardins Insurance – 80% coverage

    Desjardins Insurance, the insurance division of the Desjardins credit union, offers group and individual insurance plans. The main feature that differentiates Desjardins from many of its competitors is that it covers 80% of your dental costs, and 100% with the premium plan. To obtain Desjardins basic or extended dental coverage, you must first enroll in their general health insurance plan.

    ParaMed+ – Up to $1,000 per year with the basic plan

    ParaMed+ offers a no medical exam Health Insurance Program to which you can add optional dental insurance. The basic plan covers 80% of the cost of treatments such as examinations, minor surgery and endodontics. Maximum annual coverage ranges from $500 to $1,000, which is good compared to most insurers.

    Canada Protection Plan – For people leaving group insurance

    Canada Protection Plan is a medical and dental insurance company that offers not only individual dental insurance, but also group insurance plans covering dental care for small businesses and professional associations. So, if you’re a professional, it’s worth checking if you qualify for one of these plans, as they offer comprehensive coverage more quickly than the individual plan.

    As an individual, you can opt for FlexCare, a comprehensive health insurance plan including dental coverage, or Follow me, a plan designed for people leaving a group plan due to retirement or job loss. In this case, your acceptance is guaranteed if you apply within 90 days of the termination of your group insurance coverage.

    Group health insurance

    Dental coverage is generally an option in most employer-sponsored group insurance plans. However, not all plans include dental care, even as an option, and not all types of dental care are covered.

    Orthodontics, for example, are rarely covered by group insurance plans. It’s always a good idea to check with your group insurance provider to see what is actually covered.

    What does dental insurance cover?

    Most dental insurance policies offer a choice of levels of coverage. Some have flexible options so that you can choose what you want covered, but most offer basic preventative care as part of their basic plans.

    Restorative treatment is often an add-on option at extra cost, which may or may not include the cost of orthodontic treatments, such as braces. To give you an idea of what this means, here is a summary of the main treatments that are normally covered by preventative and restorative care policies:

    Preventative care

    • Dental exams and diagnoses
    • X-rays
    • Fillings
    • Scaling
    • Lab tests
    • Extractions 

    Restorative care

    • Periodontics 
    • Endodontics
    • Oral surgery
    • Orthodontics (rarely offered)
    • Crowns
    • Bridges 
    • Dentures and repairs

    Most dental carriers require you to pay an amount towards each treatment, known as a deductible, which can be anything between 20% and 50%. Most also have a limit on the overall dollar amount they will pay out each year.

    It’s fairly typical for the maximum amount of coverage for treatment to go up in tiers for the first 2 or 3 years. For example, an insurer might pay 50% up to $750 in year 1, and 70% up to $1,000 in year 2.

    Most also offer a routine check-up, such as once every 9 months, within the cost. However, this is not always the case, and will depend on the level of coverage you choose.

    Whatever your province provides, it’s sensible to look at topping up with private coverage as early as possible as the premiums will be lower the younger you are.

    Even basic coverage is worthwhile as it takes away part of the out-of-pocket cost of simple preventative care, whilst insulating you from the shock of a sudden large expense. Always make sure you use a comparison site as part of your research to make sure you obtain competitive dental insurance quotes.

    How do you pay if you don’t have dental insurance?

    If you don’t have dental insurance and your emergency fund has run dry, you may be tempted to ignore a dental health problem because of a lack of money. Allowing a dental health problem to deteriorate could end up costing you more money, as well as affecting your health.

    Also, in such a situation, you could pay for your dental care with a credit card or get a personal loan.
    Given the high cost of dental treatment, it’s best to choose a credit card with a low interest rate or one that comes with attractive rewards. Consider a card that:

    • Gives you a high number of points for every dollar you spend
    • Allows you to pay off your balance with points
    • Has a low interest rate

    If you don’t already have such a credit card in your wallet, know that a credit card comparison tool can show you which one has the lowest rate, best potential rewards, etc.

    FAQs about dental carriers

    Which dental carriers cover implants?

    Unfortunately, implants are considered to be cosmetic treatments and are generally not covered by dental carriers. However, it may be possible, where a bridge is the alternative solution, to negotiate the reimbursement you would receive for bridge treatment to be paid against an implant.

    It’s also worth knowing that many dental treatment providers offer financing or installment plans to allow you to spread the cost of treatment over an affordable period.

    What is the best dental carrier?

    This depends on your individual circumstances, including your age, state of health, previous dental treatment history, and which province you reside in. If you’re in a medical plan provided by your employer, it’s worth checking the options to add dental coverage. This may cost less than taking out an individual plan, and could offer more comprehensive coverage in a shorter time. 

    You should always check a comparison site to see which dental carriers provide the best quotes for you personally.

    How much does a dental bridge cost without insurance?

    The cost of a bridge depends on how complex it is and how many teeth are being replaced. It also varies depending on your province. The cost tends to start around $1,200, but can be up to $5,000 or more.

    Fortunately, most comprehensive dental insurance plans will cover between 50-80% of the cost, so it’s well worth having the appropriate coverage in place before anything happens that necessitates such expensive treatment.

    Are braces covered by dental carriers?

    Braces are rarely covered by insurance. In fact, this coverage is usually only available at the highest levels of coverage. However, with the cost of braces ranging from $3,000 to $10,000, the savings are significant.

    Does dental insurance really save money?

    Yes, it does. It’s important to select the right type of coverage for the treatment you are likely to need, including having a policy with appropriate deductibles so that you don’t end up paying for all your treatment out of your own pocket. It’s also important to be realistic about whether you will need the highest level of coverage, as this will be reflected in the premium. There’s no point in having coverage for the most expensive treatment if all you really need is preventative care.

    Of course, it’s not just about the cost of the premium. People with good dental coverage tend to take better care of their dental health and have more frequent check-ups, knowing that they don’t have to fear a huge bill if a need for treatment is identified.

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    Emma Martin writes about the curiosities of finance. Her obsession with cryptocurrency keeps her writing most days about the best exchanges and wallets, and the wild world of NFTs. Her favourite exchange right now is Bitbuy. Emma also invests in the stock market using Wealthsimple Trade.