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Dental health is an essential part of your health. All too often, people neglect it. Regular preventive care helps prevent gum disease, which is linked to conditions as varied as diabetes, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. A good dental insurance plan can guarantee your access to regular, quality care.
Unfortunately, in Canada, dental health services are not well covered by public health insurance. In fact, according to the Canadian Dental Association, nearly 94% of dental spending in Canada is private! Individuals need to look elsewhere for this important care.
This summary article answers your questions about public and private dental care in Canada. Find out what you need to know to pick the right private insurance plan for you.
What is dental insurance in Canada?
Dental insurance is a type of health insurance. It covers preventive care and restorative dental procedures. In Canada, provincial health care plans offer some emergency dental care. This coverage is often insufficient, so a supplemental private is recommended for most. Below we detail how the two systems work.
How does public dental insurance work in Canada?
What does dental public insurance cover?
Outside of specific emergency procedures performed in hospitals, public insurance plans provide little dental care. Exact coverage varies between Provinces, so check with your provincial health system for exact coverage.
|Province/Territory||Provincial Public Health System|
|Alberta||Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan|
|British Columbia||Medical Services Plan|
|Manitoba||Insured Benefits Branch Of Manitoba|
|Northwest Territories||NWT Health Care Plan|
|New Brunswick||New Brunswick Medicare|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||Newfoundland And Labrador Medical Care Plan|
|Nova Scotia||Nova Scotia Health|
|Nunavut||Nunavut Health Care Plan|
|Ontario||Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP)|
|Prince Edward Island||Health PEI|
|Quebec||Quebec Health Insurance Plan (RAMQ)|
|Saskatchewan||Government Of Saskatchewan|
|Yukon||Health Care Insurance Plan (YHCIP)|
Who is eligible for public dental insurance in Canada?
Public dental insurance is available to some groups in Canada. It varies from province to province, but seniors, children, low-income adults and adults with disabilities may be eligible for province-funded dental care programs.
Nationally, three government-funded programs provide dental insurance:
- Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) for Canadian veterans
- Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) for eligible First Nations people
- Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) for resettled refugees
How does private health insurance work in Canada?
Dental care is generally private. Private health insurance plans include dental care. They offer partial or full coverage for a given dental procedure. Higher levels of care are available for higher premiums. Even basic coverage can make a difference to defray the cost of a dental need.
What is covered by private dental insurance in Canada?
Basic plans generally include coverage for preventive care. Comprehensive plans are more likely to cover restorative care and orthodontics.
- dental exams and diagnosis
- lab exams
- oral surgery
- dentures and repairs
Under both basic and comprehensive plans, health insurers require you to pay 20-40% out-of-pocket for your dental treatment. They cover the rest. Note that most plans have a maximum amount that is reimbursable for the year.
Check the details. Plans differ in their maximum reimbursements and copays. If you require a lot of care, a more expensive plan could be a better financial decision.
Private insurers offer many different plans. Weigh your options carefully when shopping.
Outside of specific emergency procedures performed in hospitals, public insurance plans provide little dental care. Dental exams, x-rays, fillings, scaling and extractions are paid out-of-pocket without a basic private dental insurance plan.
More expensive comprehensive dental plans cover restorative care and orthodontics including brace, crowns, onlays, bridges, and dentures.
How much does private dental insurance cost in Canada?
The cost of dental care generally depends on your province and desired level of coverage. Paying for dental insurance is a concern for Canadian families living on tight budgets. It is worth it! Regular preventive care is usually cheaper than waiting to have an emergency.
According to the Canadian Dental Association, annual per capita spending on dental services is more than $378! 94% of that spending is private.
Can I get dental insurance with no waiting period in Canada?
Most insurance plans include a waiting period. The waiting period exists to prevent people from picking up insurance only when they have a health need.
Preventive care like cleaning and x-rays are usually available quickly without a long waiting period. Expensive procedures, including orthodontics and oral surgery, have a waiting period. Sometimes it can stretch to two or even three years.
For this reason, getting a plan now, when you do not yet need it, makes sense. It helps ensure that you are eligible once you have a claim.
Do not wait until you have a problem to start looking for dental insurance. Waiting periods can be long! Shop now so that you are covered when you have a need.
Start saving today!
Get a free dental insurance quote
What is the dental care cost without insurance?
The cost of dental care procedures varies between provinces. For example, in Ontario, a dental check-up is $35. In British Columbia, it is $29.50, while in Alberta, it is a steep $67. Provinces publish a suggested fee guide, and insurance companies reimburse based on it. This means that providers within the same province usually have the same price.
To provide an example, see below for the suggested cost of common procedures in Ontario. Prices in British Columbia are generally slightly lower than this. Those in Alberta are generally slightly higher.
|Dental care||Suggested prices in Ontario|
|Cleaning - 30 minutes (scaling)||$115|
|X-rays (two bitewings)||$35|
|Tooth extraction (simple)||$160|
|A white medium-sized filling||$238|
|Root canal (one molar)||$892|
|A dental crown||$1,500|
|Braces||$3,000 - $10,000|
Without insurance you will be paying these prices out-of-pocket. Oral surgery, implants and orthodontics are expensive. They can easily reach several thousand dollars. This is a difficult expense to cover with insurance.
Does dental insurance cover braces?
In Canada, comprehensive dental insurance plans may cover up to 50% of the cost of braces and other orthodontics. Braces can be expensive at $3,000 to $10,000. Insurance can go a long way towards paying for them. Additionally, many orthodontists offer financing plans to help spread out the cost. Braces can qualify for a Medical Expense Tax Credit when submitting under a Health Spending Account.
Are there dental insurance plans specific to each province?
Each province provides different levels of care as a part of its public insurance offering, meaning private options also differ. Private insurance plans are designed to fill in gaps around public coverage. Pricing, reimbursements, and types of dental procedures covered change accordingly. Dental care is not well-covered by public insurance plans.
Provinces have schedules of suggested fees for dental care. Procedures can vary significantly from one to another. 30 minutes of cleaning (scaling) is $86 in Nova Scotia, $91 in British Columbia, $115 in Ontario and $116 in Quebec and $140.20 in Alberta! That is a significant difference. Insurances adjust their pricing and offerings for this reality.
Why should I get private health and dental insurance in Canada?
Getting private health insurance makes sense. It helps you to access and pay for great care when you need it.
Good private health plans in Canada include extensive coverage for dental care, as well as vision care, prescription drugs, ambulance services, hospital days, medical devices, specialists and more.
How do I get a health and dental insurance plan in Canada?
There are several ways to find affordable health and dental insurance plans that meet your needs:
- Visit the website or call health insurance companies to discuss your coverage options. This can be overly time-consuming.
- Contact an insurance broker. They have access to, and knowledge of, many plans. They make comparing options a breeze. Note that brokers may charge a commission of up 10% of your monthly premium.
- The internet is a powerful resource for insurance shopping. Ask questions, compare policies and make your decision. You can use Safe’s comparison tool to quickly and conveniently compare quotes. Find the best one for your health and your wallet. It is like an instant, online broker without the fees!
Start saving today!
Get a free dental insurance quote
Can I purchase dental insurance only?
Insurers offer stand-alone dental coverage. Our tool lets you shop for dental only plans.
More often, dental is include as a part of a comprehensive private health and dental insurance plan. You can get private insurance with dental care through many employers or by purchasing it on your own. These plans also help pay for prescription drugs, vision care, ambulance services, medical devices, specialists and more. We recommend private health insurance regardless of your province. Provincial public health care has significant gaps. Dental care is a significant one.
Private health and dental insurance is a cost-effective way to ensure you can pay for care.
Want to learn more about public and private health insurance in Canada? Our summary article has answers to all your questions.
Is there specific dental insurance for seniors?
Some provinces make public dental insurance available to seniors. These programs can be limited in who they apply to, amounts reimbursed and care covered. Examples include the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program and Alberta’s Dental and Optical Assistance for Seniors program. Both target low-income seniors and have income limits. Check with your province to see what is available.
Health care, and particularly dental care, for seniors, can be a significant expense. Private insurance can be critical for defraying the costs.
How can I get dental insurance if I am self-employed?
The self-employed can purchase private health and dental insurance on the private market. Premiums paid are eligible medical expenses that may be deductible from your taxable annual income
Dental expenses paid may be eligible for tax credits. Keep receipts and proof of reimbursement for your dental procedures.
What are the best health and dental insurance plans?
Popular health and dental insurance include names such as :
- Blue Cross health and dental insurance
- CAA health and dental insurance
- Canada Life health and dental insurance
- Desjardins health and dental insurance
- GMS health and dental insurance
- Manulife health and dental insurance
- ScotiaLife health and dental insurance
- Sun Life health and dental insurance
Use our comparison tool to compare and get quotes on Canada's best dental insurance plans.
Top tips for saving on health and dental insurance:
Want to save on a great plan? The lowest rate does not always make the most financial sense. Here are some tips:
- Compare annual maximums
- Check your co-pays
- Look for eligible Medical Expense Tax Credits (under a Health Spending Account)
- Get multiple quotes. Safe’s insurance comparison tool can help.
Finally, do not wait for a toothache to start thinking about dental insurance. Regular preventive care, easily accessible with private insurance, helps prevent health problems down the line. When a problem does crop up, health insurance with dental coverage can save you from paying excessive charges out of pocket.
Shop for a health and dental insurance plan today:
Start saving today!
Get a free dental insurance quote