How Long Can You Stay On Your Parents’ Insurance?

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Many dental plans cover adult children up to age 26.

Many dental plans cover adult children up to age 26.

If you just graduated high school or college and aren’t yet receiving dental benefits through your employer, you may be able to stay on your parents’ dental insurance policy so you don’t experience a lapse in coverage. This will allow you to continue accessing the regular dental care you need to help keep your teeth healthy and address any serious dental problems that might arise. 

As a young adult, your dental health may not be the number one thing on your mind. But cavities and other major dental issues can be painful, uncomfortable, and distracting. And if you don’t have dental insurance, those annoying dental problems can turn into a serious financial burden. Learn how long you can be on your parents’ insurance for potential savings on dental coverage. 

How long can a child stay on parents’ insurance? 

Unfortunately, you can’t stay on your parents’ dental insurance plan forever... but more often than not, you won’t be left uninsured at age 18 either. Many dental plans allow children to remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26. That means you’ll stop receiving dental benefits from your parents’ plan on your 26th birthday. Usually, you can still stay on your parents’ dental insurance plan if you’re young enough – whether you’re living at home, a student, married, or not. 

Being able to stay on parents’ insurance until age 26 isn’t always the case. When the Affordable Care Act was passed, it required medical providers to allow dependent children to remain on their parents’ health insurance plan until age 26¹. However, no such provision exists for dental insurance. This means your provider will dictate the coverage age. This is why how long a child can stay on parents’ insurance varies depending on your dental insurance provider. 

While Guardian Direct® offers dental insurance coverage for dependents up to age 26, many other direct or employer-sponsored dental insurance plans typically cut off dental insurance coverage for dependents after age 19 instead. It’s best to check directly with your insurance provider or to read your policy to find out how long you can stay on your parents’ insurance.  

Can I stay on my parents’ insurance after 26? 

In most cases, you cannot stay on your parents’ insurance after age 26. This goes for both health insurance and dental insurance. In fact, some dental insurance plans won’t even cover you after age 19. 

However, in some cases, you can stay on your parents’ insurance until 30. Guardian Direct dental insurance plans allow dependents to be covered until age 30 in some special circumstances. Dependents aged 26 to 30 can still receive coverage if they are enrolled in school full-time and submit verification of full-time student status. Also, disabled dependents can remain on their parents’ policy even after age 30, with written verification that they are unable to support themselves. 

When do you get kicked off your parents’ insurance? 

Once you age out of coverage, you will no longer be eligible to receive dental insurance coverage under your parents’ plan as a dependent. This age depends on your provider, but it’s usually age 19 or 26. At that age, your parents’ dental insurance provider will automatically kick you off of your parents’ dental insurance...but that’s not the only reason you might be kicked off. 

Your parents can also decide to remove you from their policy at any time. Though it’s often relatively affordable, including a dependent on an insurance plan does come at an additional cost. If you're 19 or older and your parents are considering removing you from their dental insurance plan, discuss options with your parents. If they’d prefer not to continue paying for your dental insurance once you’re an adult, consider offering to pay the additional cost of staying on their plan directly to them. 

As an adult, you are able to purchase your own dental insurance plan. Take some time to review your parents’ current plan and make sure you’re satisfied with the coverage. Even if you’re paying a lower premium as a dependent on your parents’ plan, you’ll want to ensure that you’re able to pay the associated out-of-pocket costs. Your parents’ plan may have high out-of-pocket costs due to deductibles, co-pays, and annual maximums, or your parents’ plan may not adequately cover all types of dental procedures. If that’s the case, you may want to look for an individual dental insurance plan that suits your needs and your budget to help reduce financial stress in the case of a dental emergency. 

Does my parents’ insurance cover dental? 

If your parents don’t have dental benefits provided by their employer or through an individual dental insurance plan, chances are they don’t have dental insurance coverage. Health insurance typically doesn’t cover any of the cost of routine dental treatment. That's why dental insurance plans exist – to help people save on the costs of maintaining proper oral health not covered by traditional medical insurance. 

In some cases, your parents’ health insurance may in fact cover your dental care. Pediatric dental care is listed as an Essential Health Benefit under the Affordable Care Act, so some health plans include it. If you’ve been covered through pediatric dental benefits as part of a health plan, you may age out of the plan at age 19. Be sure to check your health insurance plan carefully to determine your eligibility. 

If you’ve aged out of your parents’ plan or if your parents’ insurance doesn’t cover dental, it might be worth looking into a plan of your own to help save on dental costs. 

Is my parents’ insurance worth staying on as a young adult? 

Many young adults need better dental treatment. Though cavities are largely preventable, over 90% of adults over the age of 20 to 64 have cavities or some degree of tooth decay.² Dental problems can even affect you professionally. According to a 2017 study, decaying teeth and gum problems made 28% of young adults say the appearance of their mouth and teeth undermines their ability to interview for a job.³ 

Visiting the dentist regularly is an important part of oral care. To help reduce the risk of cavities and gum disease, the American Dental Association recommends that all patients do the following: 

  • Brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste 

  • Clean between teeth daily 

  • Eat a healthy diet 

  • Visit the dentist twice a year 

Dental insurance can help make it easier and less expensive for you to visit the dentist regularly and take good care of your oral health.  

Even for young adults on a budget, dental insurance can be worth it. As a young adult starting out on your own, the last thing you need is a major dental expense you can’t afford. Dental insurance can help ease that financial burden. Dental insurance helps you keep your teeth and gums healthy while helping to minimize the cost of regular dental care. 

If your parents let you stay on their dental insurance plan as a dependent, you may continue receiving dental coverage at a lower rate than if you were to enroll in a dental insurance plan on your own.  

How Guardian Direct covers dependents – Insights 

At Guardian Direct, you can add dependents up to age 26 on your dental insurance policy with no questions asked. Dependents 26 to 30 must be enrolled in school full-time or be incapable of supporting themselves due to a disability to receive coverage. But every insurance plan is different in terms of coverage and dependents – check your policy carefully to find out if you can stay on your parents’ insurance. 

If your parents are willing and you’re young enough to stay on your parents’ insurance, it can help you stay covered, keep your dentist, and maybe even save some money. But if not, you can always obtain dental insurance benefits by purchasing a direct dental insurance plan. Learn more about how to get dental insurance coverage below. 


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  1., accessed May 2021

  2. (2018), accessed May 2021

  3. (2017), accessed May 2021