American workers in their twenties, including dentists, have a 25% chance of becoming disabled before they reach retirement age.  That percentage increases for workers over 40 to a shocking 43%.  Even low-risk jobs in dental care are at risk of contracting an illness or injury that would prevent them from working and earning an income.
Dentists have particular income-protection needs due to expensive student loans and large salaries. The American Dental Association (ADA) offers some disability insurance to dental professionals, but these plans are expensive and rarely provide sufficient protection. Private, long-term disability insurance is a must for dentists and dental hygienists. Learn more about disability income (DI) insurance costs and companies for dentists so you can protect your income.
Best disability insurance companies for dentists
Policygenius experts recommend Assurity and Ameritas for the cheapest comprehensive disability insurance for dentists. Females pay more for disability insurance because they are statistically more likely to become disabled than males.  The same is true for females working in the dental industry.
You should always talk to a professional insurance broker to see what your disability insurance options are, but this table will give you an idea of which insurers offer the best disability insurance rates for dentists.
Methodology: Sample monthly premium rates are for female and male non-smokers in Ohio. Rates based on general dentist occupation with a $5,000 per month benefit with a 90-day elimination period and a benefit period to age 65. Your maximum benefit amount will be determined by your gross income and any other group or individual plans you have in place. Sample rates also assume own-occupation policies with partial benefits, future purchase, non-cancelable and automatic increase options. Rate illustration valid as of 11/11/2021.
Why dentists need disability insurance
Contrary to popular belief, most disability insurance claims are due to illnesses rather than injury, according to Policygenius Sales Operations Manager Anthony He. Beyond the average worker’s disability insurance needs, becoming a dentist entails high start-up costs. According to the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), 83% of dentists graduate with debt, which averages $304,824. An unexpected disability can plunge dentists into serious debt due to expensive student loans. Without their expected stream of income (which promises to be significant), dentists lack sufficient funds to pay back loans and maintain their lifestyle. Disability income insurance can help protect what matters most: your hard-earned income.
Becoming a dental hygienist is relatively less expensive, but still pricey. The ADEA lists average in-state education costs for dental hygienists as:
An associate degree is $22,692
A baccalaureate degree is $36,382
A master’s degree is $30,421
The good news? A traditional dental school program is four years, compared to medical school programs, which are also four years but require at least three more years for residency.   This shorter education timeline means dentists can earn higher incomes faster than other medical professionals, allowing them to pay off their loans quickly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for dentists and dental hygienists was $158,940 and $77,090, respectively. For dental specialties, like surgeons and orthodontists, the median pay is slightly higher at $183,300.
Disability insurance for dental professionals
Disability insurance rates for dentists depend on the specific profession. Long-term disability insurance is important for everyone in the dental profession, but the rates depend on your specific profession.
Dental hygienists and lab technicians typically pay higher rates for their disability policies.
Orthodontists, exodontists, endodontists, general dentists, periodontists, pediatric dentists, and prosthodontists can qualify for lower rates due to their higher median incomes.
Disability riders for dentists
With long-term disability insurance, you can customize your policy through riders (policy add-ons). Dentists can use the riders below to make the most of their policy:
Own-occupation: Dentists should look at specialty own-occupation coverage, which provides a disability benefit if you can’t do your medical specialty (even if you’re able to do other work). “Dentists, like most medical fields, should prioritize an own-occupation rider since their work is specialized,” says Policygenius Senior Case Management Specialist Jenny Bell.
Future purchase option: Dentists start earning a high income early in their careers and continue to earn more as they advance. To protect future earnings, look for a policy with a future purchase option that allows you to buy a policy now at a lower rate, with the option to increase your benefit amount later.
Student loan: By paying a little extra each month, your policy will have a benefit amount dedicated toward student loan payments. This can be crucial in helping you maintain your lifestyle and making sure you’re making payments on your loans.
Dentists of all specialties and dental hygienists need to protect the investment they’ve made in themselves. Disabilities can be unpredictable and disability insurance provides peace of mind if you suddenly lose your ability to earn a living.
Not a dentist? Find the best disability insurance companies for your career.