Dental insurance

Dental insurance can’t take away the pain of the dentist, but it can help with the pain of the cost.

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Compare dental cover. Basic plans start from just $13 per month.

Dental insurance can be found in a private health insurance extras policy. Here are some basic, mid & top ‘extras only’ options from Finder partners. General dental includes check-ups, minor extractions, x-rays, fillings, & cleaning. Prices based on a single in Sydney and waiting periods may apply.

Name Product General Dental Major dental Hide More Info Button General Dental Limit Major Dental Limit Braces Teeth Alignment Hide CompareBox Price Per Month
ahm black 50 saver
Medibank Healthy Start Extras
Frank Some Extras 50%
Qantas Basic Extras
ahm choosable 60 – teeth / muscle & bone
This new ahm product comes with a base bundle of teeth and emergency ambulance, then lets you choose from optional extras bundles so you only pay for the cover you actually need.

Compare up to 4 providers

NO WAITING PERIOD DENTAL HACK: Need a check-up now? Lifestyle Extras from ahm has a $500 general dental limit and two no-gap check-ups. The best bit? No waiting period and it's less than $13 a week.

How does dental insurance work?

Dental insurance is a feature available in extras health insurance, as opposed to hospital insurance. Extras is the cheaper version and covers out-of-hospital healthcare, such as dentists, opticians and physiotherapists.

Some policies will pay a percentage of your bill, up to a certain amount, when you visit the dentist. Other policies will pay a set amount for specific treatments or services, regardless of what the end bill was.

A common benefit to keep an eye out for is no-gap dental. This means you'll get a certain amount of routine check-ups every year, which won't cost you a cent. You may have to go to a certain dentist though.

Types of dental insurance

When comparing dental insurance, you need to check which type of dental work is covered by the policy. Generally, it's split into four different types.

The more basic extras policies will only cover general dentistry, while the most comprehensive will cover general, major and orthodontic work. If you want dental surgery covered, you'll also need to buy hospital insurance.

TypeCovered byWhat is it?
GeneralExtrasCommon procedures such as check-ups, teeth cleaning, fluoride treatments, x-rays and small fillings.
MajorExtrasMore complex procedures such as crowns, bridgework, veneers and implants.
OrthodonticsExtrasSpecialist dentistry for aligning teeth and jaws. Treatments include braces, plates and retainers.
SurgeryHospitalSurgery performed in a hospital to the teeth and gums.

Do I really need dental insurance?

Technically, you don't need dental insurance, but it can have a big impact on your health, and your finances, if you find a policy that's right for you.

Just knowing that you're covered for regular check-ups can motivate people to visit the dentist more often, which in turn helps prevent more serious health problems developing.

According to the Australian Dental Association's 2020 Oral Health Checker, less than half (48.8%) of adults reported having a dental check-up in the last 12 months.

Dental insurance is also a good idea if you don't have savings to rely on for emergency dental work. Nobody plans to crack a tooth or have repairs to a root canal, but they can both pop up without warning and end up costing a fortune.

How much does dental work cost?

The price of specific dental treatments varies depending on your dentist, location and specific circumstances. However, a 2019 HealthEngine Survey sought to find the average cost of some common treatments in Sydney.

ProcedureAverage costLowest cost
Dental check-up$166$40
White filling$224$130
Wisdom tooth extraction$366$150
Teeth whitening$470$150
Root canal$1,225$550

More complicated dental work will be even costlier, especially braces. According to Orthodontics Australia, braces can cost anywhere between $6,500 to $15,000.

Clear aligners$6,500 - $9,500
Ceramic braces$6,500 – $9,500
Metal braces$6,000 – $9,000
Lingual braces$9,500 – $15,000

Even with health insurance, dental work can still come at a significant cost. Thankfully, many dental practices now offer AfterPay or specialist payment plans to patients.

Does Medicare cover dental?

Unfortunately, Medicare isn't great when it comes to dental work. There are some things which will be covered, but it's not very comprehensive. Here's how it works for kids and adults:

In some cases, Medicare will pay for certain dental services that are performed in a hospital, such as emergency or complicated procedures. However, these are fairly uncommon.

Medicare does offer more dental benefits to kids but they're not available for everybody. Generally speaking, you can claim up to $1,000 over two years per child – if you're eligible.

The government should let you know if your child is eligible but you can also check on the myGov website. Typically, you'll have to receive certain government benefits to be eligible.

What about emergency dental?

If your dental work is considered life-threatening or extremely complex, you'll be treated in a hospital so will be covered by Medicare. However, this doesn't apply to most dental work.

For emergencies that aren't life threatening, you'll need to see a normal dentist. In some cases, you may be able to get help from the public system to cover the cost of emergency dental work, but not everyone is eligible. Even if you are eligible, you'll likely face long queues and won't be able to choose your own dentist.

For most people, private dental insurance through an extras policy is the best way to get financial help for emergency dental work.

Who can get help from the public system?

Most states also have public dental benefits, but they usually prioritise certain groups like children, the elderly, the homeless and low-income families. If you are eligible for emergency dental benefits through your state, you will most likely have to visit a public dental facility and may have to join a queue if your condition is not life-threatening.

Here are the benefits available in each state:

In New South Wales, emergency dental care is free for the following people:

  • All children under 18.
  • Any adult with a valid Centrelink Concession Card (plus anyone else listed on the card).

You must also have a valid Medicare Card and get your treatment at a New South Wales public dental clinic.

In Victoria, the following groups are eligible for free emergency dental care in a community health centre or public dental hospital:

  • All children up to the age of 12.
  • Children up to 18 who are eligible for the Child Dental Benefit Schedule, are in out-of-home care provided by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing or in custodial care.
  • Children up to 17 who have a valid concession card or are the dependant of someone with a concession card.
  • Refugees, asylum seekers, Indigenous Australians, Torres Strait Islanders and mental health patients.

Adults who have a valid Health Care or Pensioner Concession Card will receive emergency dental care in a community health centre or public dental hospital for $29.50. Everyone else can use the public facilities, but you'll be charged rates that are similar to what you'd find in a private facility.

The following groups can receive free publicly funded emergency dental treatment in Queensland:

  • All children between age 4 and year 10 of secondary school.
  • Children outside of that range who have a concession card or are dependants of a concession card holder.
  • Children in the custody of the Director-General, Department of Communities or Child Safety and Disability Services.
  • Adults with a Pensioner Concession Card from the Department of Veterans' Affairs or Centrelink, a Health Care Card, a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card or a Queensland Seniors Card.

You must be a Queensland resident and you must receive your treatment in a public dental facility.

The following groups are eligible for publicly funded emergency treatment in Western Australia:

  • All children 4 and under.
  • Children 5-16 who are in school.
  • People 17+ who hold a Health Care or Pension Concession Card.

You must receive your treatment in a public dental facility. If you live in a rural community and don't have access to a public clinic, you can use a private clinic but you will have to pay full price for treatment.

If you belong to one of the following groups, you are eligible for publicly funded dental treatment in South Australia:

  • Dental treatment is free for all babies and children not yet in school as well as school-aged children under 18 who have a Health Care Card, are members of the School Card Scheme or are dependants of someone with a Pensioner Concession Card.
  • All other children under 18 are eligible for dental treatment if they pay a small fee.
  • Adults with a Pensioner Concession Card or a Health Care Card are eligible for dental treatment if they pay a small fee.
  • Adult Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders with a Pensioner Concession Card or a Health Care Card are eligible for free emergency dental treatment.

You must have your treatment in a public facility.

The following groups are eligible for publicly funded dental treatment in Tasmania:

  • All children up to 18 years of age will receive free treatment.
  • Adults with a Health Care or Pensioner Concession Card will receive treatment for a small fee.

You must visit a public dental facility to be eligible.

How much is dental insurance?

A mid-range extras policy will cost about $40-$50 a month. However, policies start at just $13 a month and can range all the way up to $140 a month – so there's a policy to suit every budget.

You should expect a mid-range policy to cover general and major dental work. It may also cover orthodontics but this will vary between brands.

Where to find cheap dental insurance

Cheap dental insurance starts at less than $4 a week. It will cover a couple of routine check-ups every year as well as some common procedures such as teeth cleaning and X-rays. Be aware though, you'll have to spend a little more if you want major work covered by your policy.

How to find the best dental insurance

With dental insurance, there are a few features to look out for which can separate a great policy from a run-of-the-mill one. Keep these in mind:

Best for waiting periods

Look for a policy that has no waiting period for general dental, or that waives 2- and 6-month waiting periods. That means you'll be able to claim for general dental work straight away.

Best for annual limits

The higher the annual limit, the more you'll be able to claim on your dental insurance. Just remember, you'll probably pay more for your policy too.

Best for braces

All extras policies will come with a 12-month waiting period for braces so it's better to keep a close eye on the annual and lifetime limits instead.

Top tip:Medibank's Top Extras 90 has a $1,000 annual limit (increasing by $500 every year) with a lifetime limit of $3,000.

Best for dental surgery

If you want cover for highly-complex and emergency dentistry, you'll need hospital insurance. All silver-tier policies have to cover dental surgery but you can get cover in lower tier policies too.

Compare extras insurance

Dental work is covered by extras health insurance but that's not all it covers. You can also get money towards new glasses, physio appointments and even massages. Compare more options using the tool below.

Frequently asked questions

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6 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    debbieOctober 4, 2019

    If you are working and not a concession card holder and having all your teeth removed is impacting on your health as you are losiing weight and can not eat properly does medicare substitute any of the costs for inplants or 4 bridge implants etc

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiOctober 6, 2019

      Hi Debbie,

      Thanks for your comment.

      According to our review on dental implants, Medicare largely does not cover dental work, and that includes implants. There are two major exceptions:

      1. Your oral health is impacting your overall health. In this case, you would need a referral from your GP under a GP Management Plan and Team Care Arrangement.
      2. You’re a concession cardholder. Certain concession cardholders are eligible for state-based dental vouchers that may be applied toward medically-necessary dental implants.

      Hope this helps and feel free to reach out to us again for further assistance.


    Default Gravatar
    NigelAugust 13, 2019

    Is dental insurance worth it? As far as I can see the amount you can claim back is pretty much equal to the premiums you pay, sometimes less.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniAugust 14, 2019Staff

      Hi Nigel,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      It would depend on your dental needs. Please note dental fees are not subsidised by the Federal Government like doctors’ fees and Medicare. In addition, there is no industry-standard fee schedule when it comes to dentistry. Fees vary from dentist to dentist, set by the owner of each practise to cover their own operating costs. Given that there is no government subsidy, many people opt to take out dental insurance to help cover the cost of maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!


    Default Gravatar
    AnnieJuly 28, 2017

    I’ve been with Bupa for over 30 years. I have Hospital + extras cover however their fees are
    exorbitant! I’m looking for top major Dental cover with an experienced orthodontist or my existing Dentist.

      Default Gravatar
      ArnoldAugust 3, 2017

      Hi Annie,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      What you can do is check out the insurers in our panel and compare what’s best for you. Please take note to provide the required details in order to filter the results.

      Hope this information helped.


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