There are some myths out there about dental insurance. Some claim dental insurance isn’t a viable option for older adults. Others may say it’s too expensive to take care of our teeth as we age. Leave those (incorrect) assumptions behind! It is true that Medicare doesn’t offer dental coverage, but that’s not the only option for finding affordable dental care today. The American Dental Association found that over the past five decades, complete tooth loss decreased by over 75 percent in adults 65-74! We’re here to dispel more myths about older adult’s oral health and review what coverage options are offered.
Here are the facts on oral health as we age:
- Older adults can (and should) get dental coverage in retirement. After their employer-sponsored benefits come to an end, Delta Dental of Colorado can help you. Contact us to discuss how to transition into an individual dental plan that fits your needs.
- You can keep your natural teeth into old age. Tooth decay causes tooth loss, not old age. And tooth decay is 100% preventable! That means keeping your teeth is possible as long as you’re maintaining the proper oral health care routine.
- Even into older adulthood, we recommend dentist visits at least twice a year. Brush twice a day with a toothbrush that has soft bristles. Use fluoride toothpaste. Flossing at least once a day and after meals will remove leftover particles of foods that can cause inflammation. These tips will help reduce your risk of harboring cavity-causing bacteria.
- Adults get cavities, too! That’s right. Dry mouth, common for older adults, reduces that amount of saliva in the mouth. Saliva helps wash away food particles and promotes a healthy mouth. When the mouth doesn’t have enough saliva, cavities can develop.
MEDICARE ADVANTAGE AND INDIVIDUAL DENTAL PLANS
As we age, oral health is still vital to our overall health. But, unfortunately figuring out where to get dental coverage after retirement can be difficult. Medicare doesn’t cover routine dental care. This may lead some to believe it’s not as important as health care.
Some Medicare Advantage Plans provide coverage for routine dental services, like check-ups or cleanings. Coverage can vary widely from plan to plan and state to state, though. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, contact your plan to learn about covered dental services. Dental coverage providers like Delta Dental contract with Medicare Advantage to offer help paying for the out-of-pocket costs that Medicare doesn’t cover.
AFFORDABLE DENTAL CARE FOR OLDER ADULTS
Older Adults with limited income have several options when it comes to oral health. Reduced-cost or free clinics are good alternatives to the traditional dentist office for routine check-ups and appointments. Click here to find a clinic in Honolulu.
If you’re looking to maintain your oral health, individual dental plans will give you the best coverage for your needs. Oral health requires preventive care.
INDIVIDUAL PLANS FROM DELTA DENTAL
An individual dental plan with Delta Dental can also help you out when you have an emergency, too. Oral health is impacted by a variety of factors, so staying on top of a healthy smile will ensure you’re not in for any surprises. As we get older, our risk of oral health problems increases. Reasons for this include:
- Medications, cancer treatments, and certain diseases that cause dry mouth. A parched palate can increase bacteria in the mouth, resulting in tooth decay.
- Gum disease is often a problem for older adults. Certain medications, poor fitting bridges or dentures, and health conditions like diabetes can make this worse.
It’s important to take care of your teeth as you age because oral health is connected to overall health. Dr. Bruce Dye, corresponding author of the article and a researcher with the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, wrote in an ADA article that:
- Studies have indicated that “tooth loss can reduce quality of life and lessen the likelihood of eating a healthy and diverse diet.”
- He also noted that when an individual has more teeth, they have “an increased need to protect [their] oral health,” which in turn improves their overall quality of life.
THE COST OF DENTAL CARE
Stay on top of the cost of your dental care options. Evaluate your dental needs and use online tools like this FAIR Health dental cost app or the Delta Dental Cost Estimator. This will help give you an idea of what dental work costs.
When we no longer have an employer to access dental insurance, navigating the insurance marketplace can be intimidating. Hawaii Dental Service is here to help you understand the coverage options in retirement that support your smile health.
Contact us today to speak with a representative about the best plan options for your needs.
*Updated April 2021