Dental Insurance for college students

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Dental and vision insurance for college students is just as essential as having a good computer or a good meal plan. Your success at school can be affected by your health, and having dental and vision insurance may ensure that you can get care if you need it. College students may not realize that they might need to have private dental insurance if they are still on their parents’ medical insurance or if they have medical insurance through their school. The reason being that in most cases vision and dental coverage is not typically included in medical insurance. College students can sometimes obtain dental coverage through a parent’s dental insurance plan, or they can buy their own private dental insurance plan.

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If you are already covered by your parent’s dental plan you should check at what age you will become ineligible to be on their plan. You may need to get your own dental insurance sooner than you think. You should also check the coverage that you have through that plan, so you know what services are covered.

If you’re not covered by your parents’ dental insurance or if your parents don’t have dental insurance, you can buy your own dental insurance policy. Dental insurance list prices vary based on state, number of people getting coverage, and other factors but you will be able to find a single policy that works with your budget if you need dental insurance. Buying your own dental insurance policy is a smart way to make sure that you will be able to find a dentist locally that is in-network where you go to school. If you are relying on your parents’ dental insurance for dental care but you go to school far away from where your parents live you will need to check potential dentists carefully to make sure that they are in-network for your parents’ dental insurance. If you don’t check or if you see a dentist that isn’t in the network, you or your parents could end up paying out of pocket the full cost of any dental services that you receive.

Do I have to buy dental insurance during open enrollment while I’m in school?

When you buy medical insurance, you may only buy a plan or change your existing plan during open enrollment. Typically, an exception to this is if you meet certain conditions like you start a new job and are signing up for medical insurance through your employer¹. Dental insurance is different. There isn’t a set dental insurance open enrollment period.

You can buy a private dental insurance plan at any point during the year. Guardian Direct® dental insurance plans are available for purchase at any time. Guardian Direct® plans also come with a range of deductibles, premiums, and coverages so that even college students that are on a tight budget can afford them.

If I want dental insurance only, am I forced to buy vision insurance as well?

It’s common for students to want dental insurance only, and you don’t have to buy vision and dental insurance if you don’t need both. Vision insurance is a different type of insurance that offers discounts on vision services while dental insurance works more like traditional insurance. Even though vision and dental insurances may be grouped together in conversation, they really have nothing to do with each other except that each type of coverage is often not included in medical insurance coverage. College students don’t have to buy vision insurance and there is no legal obligation to buy vision insurance. Dental insurance policies and vision insurance are stand-alone insurance typically purchased separately.

How do I know what is the best dental insurance available?

What is the best dental insurance available for college students? To answer that question, you need to take a realistic look at what your dental needs are. College students who are primarily in their late teens and early 20s can benefit from having a dental insurance plan that provides coverage for preventative care as well as for emergencies. By purchasing a dental insurance policy that help cover the cost of preventative care like X-rays, exams, and cleanings you can help keep your teeth in good condition even if you do occasionally forget to brush or if you don’t make oral care a very high priority.

Tooth decay is something that you should start worrying about. According to a 2018 report from the CDC, 25% of adults in the U.S. between the ages of 20-44 have untreated dental caries, which is another name for tooth decay². Now that you’re a young adult it may be the time to double down on preventative dental care to help make sure that your teeth and gums stay healthy. When tooth decay is left untreated it can lead to cavities which can cause serious dental problems like infection and tooth loss³. Getting regular dental cleanings and maintaining a good oral health regimen can help keep tooth decay from becoming a problem as you get older.

Guardian Direct® insurance plans cover preventative care with no waiting period. Once your policy is active you can get the preventative care you need, which is important if you have a strict school schedule but want to see a dentist as soon as possible.

There are three different Guardian Direct® dental plan options so that no matter what your budget is there is a plan that you can afford. Coverages and prices vary by state. Seeing an in-network dentist will save you up to 40% off standard dental insurance rates with an in-network dentist. (Savings based on Guardian Internal Effective Discount Reporting measured against the fair Health mean.)

If you’re a student just starting college and you have a tight budget the Guardian Direct® entry-tier dental insurance plan has a low premium cost and covers preventative care including cleanings and X-rays and it also covers up to 50% of the cost of fillings. This is a great option for students who want to be proactive with their dental health but don’t have a lot of money to spend on an insurance policy.

If you have a little more money to spend each month or if you are concerned that you might need basic dental care like fillings or even a root canal the Guardian Direct® mid-tier plan is an affordable mid-range insurance plan that, subject to applicable annual maximums, covers up to 80% of the cost of cleanings and X-rays and also covers up to 50% of the cost of fillings, root canals, and crowns.

If you’re graduating you may have a gap between graduation and when your first post-college job so private dental insurance is a smart way to make sure that you’re covered while you are looking for a job and getting your life after school started. You can read this to find out more about your post-graduation insurance options.

Are there any dental and vision insurance plans for college students?

Bundled packages are usually a good way to save money on things, but they’re not always the most cost effective way to get what you need. That’s the case with some dental and vision insurance bundles. Vision insurance plans typically don’t work like traditional insurance where you pay a copay or deductible for services and the insurance pays for the rest. They are discount plans where you pay a set fee for an exam, and you get discounts on products like glasses or contacts. Vision problems that are serious are usually treated by an ophthalmologist and are covered by medical insurance. If you don’t wear glasses or contacts and you only need routine eye exams on a regular basis vision insurance may not be something that you need.

Even if you do wear glasses or contacts bundling vision and dental insurance may not save you any money. A more practical option may be to buy stand-alone vision and dental insurance policies so that you can get a dental insurance policy that provides more useful coverage. Anyone that is 18 or older can buy individual dental and vision policies through Guardian Direct®.

Affordable dental insurance plans for college students & Insights

Whether you are just starting your college journey or you are getting ready to make the jump to life after college Guardian Direct® knows that you have questions about how to stay healthy and what you need to do to take care of yourself as an adult. That’s why we have built an entire library of resources to help you make an informed decision when choosing what insurance you need, and how to help live healthy to stay healthy. Our articles full of tips, insights, and information you need will help you navigate the confusing transition from being a teenager to being a young adult and give you helpful information when it comes to your insurance.

If you have crooked teeth, we have resources that can explain whether or not insurance will cover braces for adults. Or you can take a moment to learn how developing healthy habits like practicing yoga may impact your dental health. We also have resources to help explain different types of dental insurance and coverage so that you can decide what is best for your needs.


  1. (2019), accessed August 2021

  2., accessed August 2021

  3., accessed August 2021