How to buy dental insurance

Share this article

More than 37 million adults in the U.S. don’t have dental coverage¹ and that lack of insurance may have a dramatic impact on overall health. The health of your teeth and gums is linked to your overall health and wellness². That’s why it’s so important to get regular dental care. Buying dental insurance can help make necessary dental care more affordable.

A background decorative of Blue color

When you find affordable dental insurance online, you can enroll any time throughout the year

Signing up for medical insurance typically can only be done during certain times of the year or when you first are employed if you get insurance through your employer. But dental insurance works a little differently. You can sign up for dental insurance at any time.

And if you choose a plan that has a short waiting period or no waiting period for preventative care you can schedule an appointment for an exam, X-rays, or a cleaning as soon as your coverage is effective. Check how long the waiting periods are for both preventative services and major dental services like root canals before you buy a dental insurance policy.

Guardian Direct® dental insurance plans have no waiting for preventative care. As soon as the policy you purchased kicks in*, you can get any of the preventative dental care services specified in your policy details.

There are several ways to purchase dental insurance. If your employer offers dental insurance as part of your benefits package, or as a voluntary benefit when you start a new job or during open enrollment, which usually occurs in the fall.

If you are self-employed and belong to a trade organizations or other association, they may offer group dental insurance to their members.

If your employer doesn’t offer dental insurance, you can purchase individual dental insurance from a dental insurance company over the phone, through a broker or online. Limited options are available on or your state’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace.

Buy your own dental insurance

Buy your own dental insurance

You can buy your own individual dental insurance regardless of what type of medical insurance you have. When you can typically purchase dental insurance depends on how and when you are buying it:

  • Group plan through your employer - You can typically sign up for dental insurance shortly after starting at a different company, after a qualifying life event or during your company’s open enrollment period. When you are interviewing with a new company be sure to ask if dental and vision care are covered by the company’s medical insurance or if they have a separate group plan for vision and dental

  • Via a Medicare Advantage plan - You need to do so during Medicare open enrollment (October 15 to December 7)

  • ACA plan - You need to do so during open enrollment (dates vary, check or your state’s ACA website for the latest information)

  • Private insurance - You can buy dental insurance at any time. (Sometimes referred to as personal/individual insurance)

When you are searching for dental insurance plans make sure that you look at the year maximum coverage amounts, the deductibles, and the coverage amounts as well as the premium cost. Often people look only at the premium cost when they are considering what dental insurance plans are the most affordable, but those other factors are important too. Often, it’s worth paying a few dollars more in premium costs to get substantially more coverage.

Can I buy dental insurance without a waiting period?

A waiting period is typically the time period following your coverage start date during which no benefits are paid. In most plans, typically there are no waiting periods for preventive care, such as cleanings, exams, and X-rays. Basic services such as fillings and simple extractions have a waiting period of six months or less, depending on your plan. Major dental work, such as root canals, crowns, implants, and braces typically have a waiting period of 12 months or less, depending on your plan. Guardian Direct® dental insurance plans don’t have a waiting period for preventative care, and have only a 12 month or less, depending on your state, minimum waiting period for major dental work like root canals or implants.

Can I buy dental insurance on my own?

Taking care of your teeth and maintaining good oral and overall health may become expensive. Individual dental insurance helps pay for preventive care, like cleanings and x-rays, that can help keep you healthy, but it also helps pay for more extensive, costly and often unexpected expenses, such as filings, crowns, and root canals.

And, if you have young children, timely visits to a dentist can be an important part of your child’s lifelong oral health³. Tooth decay is one of the most common childhood diseases —often causing pain that impacts a child’s sleeping or eating habits, and it may lead to school absences . Dental insurance helps make taking care of a child’s oral health more affordable.

Dental insurance typically isn’t a part of medical insurance, so you can buy dental insurance independent of your medical insurance plan. If you get medical insurance through your employer your employer might offer a stand alone dental and vision insurance option but in most cases medical insurance doesn’t include vision or dental care. If you have dental insurance already and you want to increase your coverage you can purchase additional supplement dental insurance.

Can I buy additional dental insurance?

Buying dental insurance through Guardian Direct® can be fast, easy and secure. Guardian Direct® is available in most states, 365 days a year so you can purchase dental insurance on your schedule. All enrollments are instantly approved so you can obtain a policy instantly. Guardian accepts multiple payment methods, such as a credit/debit card, ACH, or check and payment schedules, such as monthly, quarterly, or annually depending on what fits your budget.

Buying additional dental insurance just makes sense if you don’t have dental insurance through your employer or if you have some dental coverage but you want to have supplemental coverage so that your dental care is more affordable. For example, if you have Medicaid the amount of services that Medicaid covers typically depends on your age and the state you live in. Some states provide some dental coverage benefits through Medicaid while others offer only emergency care or a small amount of coverage⁴. Purchasing supplemental dental insurance in a case like that can give you the financial confidence of knowing that you can see a dentist when you need to without breaking the bank or going into debt to do it⁵. So if you’ve been wondering, “Can I buy additional dental insurance?” the answer is yes, you can.

Can you buy private dental insurance?

Even if you have dental insurance through your employer or through a program like Medicaid you can purchase additional private dental insurance to help cover the costs of things that your existing policy doesn’t cover. You can’t use both policies to cover the same procedure, but it’s very common for people to buy supplemental private dental insurance to cover things that their base policy might not cover. For example, if you have kids you might want to purchase additional private dental insurance that may allow you to take your kids to a specialist or to get orthodontic work if necessary. Or, if your existing policy only covers emergencies you might want to buy private dental insurance that will help cover things like X-rays and cleanings so that you won’t have to pay as much out of pocket for routine care.

How to buy dental insurance online & insights

Not sure how to buy dental insurance? Buying dental insurance is easy to do online. You can search for a policy that will fit your needs and buy online in seconds. However, when you’re looking at private dental insurance policies there are some common factors that you should take into consideration like:

  • The coverage amounts and maximums

  • Waiting periods

  • Deductible

  • Lifetime or yearly maximums

  • What’s covered

  • Premium cost

  • Type of dental insurance plan

  • How big the network is

All of these common factors go into helping you make an informed decision when choosing the best private dental insurance that meets yours and your family’s needs. Guardian Direct® wants to help you make the most informed decision possible when you’re buying dental insurance online. Browse through our library of insights, tips, advice, and how-tos before buying your dental insurance. We can help you learn more about where to buy dental insurance online, or help you buy private dental insurance on the insurance marketplace, or decide what type of dental insurance is best fit for you and your family.


Insights for the people.

Join our new digital insurance community that includes tips, resources and useful information from Guardian Direct.


  1., accessed August 2021

  2., accessed August 2021

  3., accessed August 2021

  4., accessed August 2021

  5., accessed August 2021