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  • Home Knowledge Center Dental Insurance for Students and Young Adults

    Dental Insurance for Students and Young Adults

    Learn about the different types of dental insurance for students, how to get it, and why it’s important to have dental insurance.

    If you’re a college student or on your own for the first time, there is a lot to consider when deciding on the right dental plan. You may have a few questions, such as:

    • What plans are available?
    • How much coverage do I need?
    • Is this dental plan affordable?

    We’ll help answer some of these questions. Learn why it’s important to your overall health to have dental insurance, even if you practice good oral hygiene.

    Why is dental insurance for students important?

    We all want a great smile. But even if you brush and floss everyday, that often isn’t enough. Routine dental check-ups, which include teeth cleanings and x-rays, can help catch dental issues before they become more serious.

    Dental insurance typically provides coverage for regular dental check-ups and teeth cleanings. Here are a few reasons why dental exams are important for young adults.

    • X-rays can show cavities before they develop into more serious conditions that require a root canal. Root canals are a procedure that can cost hundreds of dollars without dental coverage.
    • Untreated gum disease can lead to serious health issues such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, infection of the jawbone, and more.
    • Injuries and emergencies happen. A cracked tooth or losing a tooth can be painful. But getting the dental care to fix a dental injury could cost thousands of dollars without dental insurance.
    • An infected tooth or other surgeries such as wisdom teeth extraction can’t be ignored. These may lead to additional health issues if left untreated.
    • If you already have or need orthodontics, you’ll want to find a plan with orthodontic coverage.

    How do you get dental insurance as a college student?

    Here are a few ways to get dental coverage if you’re a college student:

    • Your school – Check with your college or university. They may offer dental insurance as well as health insurance for students through the school. These plans are typically made to fit a student’s budget.
    • Your employer – If you started working, your employer may offer you dental insurance as part of your health insurance coverage. Coverage and costs may vary depending on which plans are available.
    • Your parents – Depending on how your parents’ dental insurance plan works, you may be allowed to stay on their dental plan until the end of the year you turn 26.
    • On your own – You can buy your own dental plan through a health insurer like Cigna HealthcareSM* or on the health insurance marketplace. Coverage and costs may vary depending on which plan you choose.

    Need dental coverage?

    Cigna HealthcareSM offers a variety of affordable dental plans, from basic plans that cover preventive care to plans that help cover major dental care.
    Explore our dental plans

    What should I look for in a dental insurance plan for young adults?

    When looking for a dental plan, here are some common features of a plan that you may want to consider.

    In-network vs. Out-of-Network Dentists

    In-network dentists can save you money. There are plans that require you to see a dentist in that plan’s network for services to be covered. If you want to see a dentist that is out-of-network, you will pay more for that.

    Dental Plan Waiting Periods

    How soon will you need treatment? Dental plans may require you to wait a certain amount of time before you can get a more expensive treatment covered. But there are also some plans that provide full coverage and don’t require a waiting period.

    Preventive-only vs. Full Coverage Dental Plans

    Do you need a preventive-only dental plan? These plans include regular oral exams (usually every six months) teeth cleanings, and routine x-rays.

    Do you need a full-coverage dental plan? There are different services and treatments covered depending on the plan you choose:

    • Basic restorative care includes fillings, extractions, and non-routine x-rays.
    • Major restorative care includes bridges, crowns, and dentures.
    • Orthodontic treatments will help align your teeth using braces, spacers, and Invisalign®.

    Out-of-Pocket Costs

    Think about the total costs for your dental plan. These may include a monthly premium, deductible, coinsurance, and other costs for services that aren’t covered.

    What kinds of dental plans are good for students and young adults?

    There are many types of dental plans with varying costs and coverage that may be right for you. The type of plan you buy depends on the type of dental care you expect to need in the coming year.

    Coverage for Routine Preventive Care

    If you have healthy teeth and expect to only need routine cleanings and exams, then a preventive dental plan may be right. Preventive dental plans provide 100% coverage for routine dental care. This typically includes two dental exams every six months, routine x-rays, and cleaning and polishing. They also come with low monthly premiums.

    Coverage for Orthodontics

    If you have braces or retainers, then you will want to look for a dental plan that covers you for orthodontic services. This information is included in the plan summary or details. Not all plans cover orthodontics, so shop carefully. These plans will cost you more because they offer more coverage.

    Coverage for More Complex Oral Health Issues

    If you expect to need more complex dental care and services (such as oral surgery or treatment for gum disease), explore the classes or categories of coverage available with various plans. These are often called preventive, basic restorative, major restorative, and orthodontia.

    It’s important to read the details of any plan documents before buying a dental plan. These documents may provide specifics about exactly what’s covered, as well as what’s not covered (often called limitations and exclusions). They may also include information about possible waiting periods.

    How much does dental insurance for college students cost?

    Depending on the plan type you choose, the costs will vary. Generally, the costs for dental insurance are broken up into three parts:

    • Your monthly premium – This is the amount of money you pay per year for your plan and will vary depending on the type of plan and what it covers. But premiums are just one part of your cost.
    • Your deductible – This is the amount you pay for dental care before your insurance kicks in to start sharing costs for services.
    • Coinsurance – Coinsurance is a portion of the medical cost you pay after your deductible has been met.

    Dental plans may also include:

    • Additional out-of-pocket costs – If you get services that your plan doesn’t cover, you will likely need to pay on your own. If your plan comes with an annual maximum (or limit) on how much it will cover, you may be responsible for paying any costs above that limit. This is why it’s important to read the details of any dental plan before you buy or enroll.
    • Network dentist savings – If your dental plan requires you to see a dentist within a certain network, you will save money that way too. Going to an out-of-network dentist will cost you significantly more.

    How much does dental care cost without insurance?

    Depending on the dental specialist, you may be able to pay out of pocket for dental care without insurance.

    However, the cost of dental care can quickly add up with other expenses students may have, such as tuition, room and board, books, food, etc.

    Discounted Dental Care for Students

    Depending on where you live, you may be able to get discounted dental work done through a local dental school. Dental students will provide the services, but licensed dentists will be supervising the process.

    This may be a good option to save money, however, you need to make sure to do your research thoroughly before choosing this option for dental services and treatment. Be sure to check that dental schools accept your dental insurance as well.

    When can you buy dental insurance for students?

    The timeframe for purchasing dental plans depends on how you’re buying the plan:

    • If you are purchasing dental coverage through your college or university, they may have their own deadlines. You will want to check with your admissions office for details.
    • If you are offered a dental plan through an employer as part of your health coverage, you will need to enroll in the plan during the open enrollment period.
    • If you are buying a dental plan through an insurer such as Cigna Healthcare or on the Health Insurance Marketplace, you can sign up all year round.

    When thinking about the type of dental insurance plan you need, take into consideration your lifestyle, how much you can afford, and what the upcoming year ahead looks like. There are many different dental plans available to fit your needs.

    For more information, you can contact a Cigna Healthcare representative or shop our dental insurance plans.


  • Preventive Care
  • *Insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company

    Product availability may vary by location and plan type and is subject to change. All dental insurance policies contain exclusions and limitations. For costs and details of coverage, review your plan documents or contact your Dental representative from Cigna Healthcare.

    Cigna Healthcare products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of The Cigna GroupSM, including Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company and Cigna Dental Health, Inc. In Texas, the Dental plan is known as Cigna Dental Choice, and this plan uses the national Cigna DPPO Advantage network.

    This information is for educational purposes only. It is not medical advice. Always consult your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Any third-party content is the responsibility of such third party. Cigna Healthcare does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of any third-party content and is not responsible for such content. Your access to and use of this content is at your sole risk.

    This page is not intended for use in NM and WV.

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    Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Georgia, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of South Carolina, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of Texas, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of The Cigna Group Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT). The Cigna Healthcare name, logo, and other Cigna Healthcare marks are owned by The Cigna Group Intellectual Property, Inc.

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