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Beginning in 2014, it is mandatory for you to have health insurance coverage or you will have to pay a fee – but this requirement does not include dental coverage for adults. In other words, as an adult, if you go without dental coverage, you will not be charged a penalty.

Newly under Obamacare, dental insurance is handled differently for adults and children (18 and under). Dental coverage is now an essential health benefit for children. This means that dental coverage must be available to children as either part of a health plan, or as a stand-alone plan, to avoid facing a penalty for not having the right type of coverage. Dental coverage is not, however, classified as essential for adults, so insurers are not obligated to offer adult dental insurance options.

If you choose to purchase dental coverage as an adult, you can do so both inside and outside the Marketplace by purchasing a stand-alone plan or adding dental benefits to your comprehensive medical plan.  In the Marketplace, pediatric dental coverage is often included as part of a comprehensive medical plan, but it can also be purchased by itself as stand-alone dental coverage.  If you select a stand-alone dental plan, you’ll pay a separate, additional premium to the company that is providing the dental insurance.

The benefits of dental coverage help cover the costs of routine visits to the dentist and preventative services, such as teeth cleanings, x-rays, and fillings, but these benefit structures are different for each plan, so be sure to compare plans.