Shuman Roy is an entrepreneur, business owner, and musician. He started RoysNoys, LLC in 2013 as a music production and education service company. He also offers small business consulting and advisory services to help businesses get from start-up mode to turn-key operations. Shuman earned his M.B.A from the Stern School of Business in 2001 and has an undergraduate degree from Manhattan College in ...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Joel...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP® Joel Ohman

UPDATED: Mar 21, 2022

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The Truth in a Nutshell

  • Aetna is the third largest dental insurance provider in the United States
  • Aetna has been offering insurance since 1853 and dental insurance for over 50 years
  • Aetna has many flexible plans, including multiple kinds of PPO and DMO plans
  • Aetna dental was given an A rating by A.M. Best

Aetna is an extremely well-known name in the insurance industry, and there is no wonder why that is the case.

Home to over 39 million loyal customers and a subsidiary of CVS Health — the largest medical company and the 7th largest company globally, Aetna offers great dental insurance options at very competitive rates. Aetna provides the highest quality of dental care and partners with local dentists to provide customers with impressive discounts.

Aetna has offered dental insurance for over 50 years and has been in business for over 160 years. Aetna’s headquarters is in Hartford, CT, and they offer their services throughout the United States. However, most Aetna dental providers are based in the eastern half of the United States. Although, that does not bear any impact on the price of their Aetna dental insurance. In fact, areas where Aetna isn’t popular have lower average rates.

What dental insurance plans does Aetna offer?

Aetna offers a significant number of coverage options for individuals and families. The majority of the plans offered by Aetna are given to you at adjusted rates through your current employment. The Aetna DMO Plan, Aetna Preferred PPO Dental Plan, and The Aetna Dental Indemnity Plan are more easily obtained if offered through your company.

Families, individual contractors, and retirees who aren’t given dental insurance through employment should consider the Aetna Direct Core PPO Dental Plan and the Aetna Vital Savings Plan.

A PPO, also known as a Preferred Provider Organization, is an insurance network covered under a PPO plan that gives insurees access to discounted rates from highly-qualified dentists and medical professionals. PPO plans do not require you to use preferred Aetna dentist providers.

The Aetna Dental Direct automatically gives you the best dental insurance for your needs if you put in your name, zip code, birth date, and current dental insurance plan enrollment online. From there, you can choose from multiple options that would best suit you and your family. Your dental expenses may be higher or lower depending on where you live.

Aetna DMO Plan

A DMO, also known as a Dental Maintenance Organization, works within your local networks of dentists to offer copayments and coinsurance to subsidize dental procedures.

The Aetna DMO plan is one of the most flexible insurance options you can get from any provider. You choose copayment and coinsurance rates while signing up, and Aetna will pay for your dental procedures with no extra hassle.
You can use the DMO plan as a primary or secondary provider. If you use the DMO plan as a secondary provider, it takes on the benefits of your primary plan.

This means if you have three routine checkups for your family of three under your primary plan, you would not have an additional three checkups covered under the DMO plan, and you would have to pay out of pocket for any additional checkup. However, the DMO plan will cover you where there are no overlaps with your primary plan.

Dental providers that accept the Aetna DMO plan only require your name to get payments from Aetna and do not need an insurance card. Dentists covered under Aetna will also typically submit claims for you.

Keep in mind that the Aetna DMO plan only covers you for one dentist, under primary care, at a time. Multiple local dentists will not accept your insurance if you are covered under one DMO plan. You can change dentists once a month. However, the rollover period resets at the 16th of every month — which means if you change your primary care dentist on January 16, you won’t be covered under your new dentist until March 1.

Aetna Dental Direct Preferred PPO Plan

The Aetna Dental Direct Preferred PPO plan is one of the more expensive plans available to individual insurance buyers and families. However, it also offers some of the best services and the most competitive coinsurance rates.

This plan offers a $50 individual and $150 family annual deductible. It does not cover coinsurance for preventive care and requires a 20% coinsurance rate for basic services and a 50% coinsurance rate for major procedures. The Preferred PPO plan also gives a $1,250 annual maximum benefit for in-network care and a $1,000 maximum yearly benefit for out-of-network care.

In-network refers to an Aetna dental provider, and Out-of-network means that dentists do not accept Aetna as a preferred insurance option.

For both the Preferred PPO plan and the Direct Core PPO plan, Aetna waives the dental insurance waiting period and immediately covers people under the plan. If you do not currently have dental insurance, you have to wait 90 days to get your benefits from the PPO plans. Both plans are also very popular with insurers, and all Aetna PPO plans are widely accepted across the United States by over 120,000 dental providers.

Aetna Dental Direct Core PPO Dental Plan

Like the Preferred PPO plan, the Direct Core PPO plan also has a $50 individual and $150 family deductible. It also doesn’t cover preventive care under coinsurance and gives a 50% major treatment coinsurance rate.

Unlike the Preferred PPO plan, the Direct Core PPO plan gives a 50% basic coinsurance rate and covers a $1,000 annual maximum benefit.

Preventive dental care options are done to maintain your teeth’ quality and prevent damage and potential surgery. Routine checkups, x-rays, and teeth cleanings are standard preventative options paid for by Aetna.

Aetna Direct Core PPO is less expensive than Aetna Dental Direct Preferred PPO. However, that comes with a lower basic coinsurance rate and a lower annual maximum benefit. Both plans also fully cover preventive dental care with no out-of-pocket costs.

Aetna Dental Indemnity Plan

The Aetna Dental Indemnity plan allows you to be covered by Aetna and given all the benefits of Aetna providers without choosing a primary care dentist and needing a referral.

Users of this plan have to pay dental costs upfront and then send Aetna a receipt for reimbursement.

Aetna often offers add-on vision and pharmaceutical benefits to their plans, which is one of the main highlights of Aetna Dental Indemnity. Aetna also offers various medical and pharmaceutical insurance plans that also cover some dental services with partnered dental practices.

Those interested in this plan should talk to an Aetna dental agent to learn more about rates and additional benefits.

Aetna Dental Freedom-of-Choice Plan

The Aetna Dental Freedom-of-Choice plan combines all the features of a PPO plan with a DMO plan. Every month, you can switch between networks to cover PPO benefits or DMO benefits.

As described above, the first plan you can choose is the Aetna DMO plan. The DMO plan gives you the ease of access of a PCD with the added elasticity of being able to tack on costs to additional dental plans.

The following month, if you would like, you can switch to one of Aetna’s PPO plans or the Dental Indemnity Plan. Switching takes no extra cost, and the benefits are massive.

This plan is excellent for people who want to be insured while finding a primary care dentist. Of course, DMO plans require you to choose a PCD, and PPO plans offer the best in-network and out-of-network insurance. Switching every month gives you the best of both worlds and will provide you with access to the most competitive rates for major treatments.

Aetna Vital Savings Plan

The Aetna Dental Savings Plan is one of the most flexible options on this list and offers direct discounts on certain dental services. By enrolling in this plan, you can mitigate any enormous upfront costs you may have to deal with during an unplanned trip to the dentist.

Individuals interested in this plan are issued an Aetna Vital Savings card. This plan does not work traditionally as dental insurance and instead gives members discounts on dental services and prescription drugs for an additional price. Members get 15% to 50% discounts on dental services from over 262,000 locations.

  • Individuals interested in the Dental-only card can pay $7.99 a month or $75 a year. 
  • Families can pay $10.99 a month or $105 a year. 
  • The Dental Plus Rx card costs individuals $9.99 a month or $95 a year. 
  • It costs families $12.99 a month or $125 a year. 

Both the Dental-only Vital card and the Dental Plus Rx has a start-up fee of $20.

Aetna Vital Savings is unavailable in Montana, Vermont (for dental only), and Tennessee (for Rx/pharmaceutical goods). It also does not meet Massachusett’s minimum creditable coverage requirements, which means you would need additional health insurance if you are using the vital savings plan to help save on health insurance costs. Dental insurance is not mandatory in Massachusetts.

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Should you choose an Aetna dental insurance plan?

Aetna offers great dental insurance options that will likely fit most family or workplace needs.

Most people believe that dental insurance is an unnecessary cost and a burdensome process to obtain. For those skeptical, Aetna offers extremely versatile insurance and savings through its partnered locations.

The first thing you should do when deciding on an insurance plan is discuss your options with your family. Dental problems often worsen over time, so it is risky not to be insured. Children and teens often have some of the most burdensome dental problems that free preventative care offered by Aetna can quickly solve.

It is wise to consider an Aetna PPO plan if you currently have lots of dental problems and need to try out multiple dentists and orthodontists, especially if you have avoided a trip due to fears of the expense.

All and all, there is a definite reason why Aetna is the third-largest dental insurance provider in the United States.