While seniors increasingly make up a larger proportion of the U.S. population, the percentage of them accessing dental care continues to decline. According to Pew Research, almost 40 percent of seniors fail to visit a dentist on an annual basis.
Dental care for seniors is important, but it can be expensive, prohibitively so for people on a fixed income. The good news is that there are different options for accessing dental treatment, even for those with a limited budget.
Keep reading to find out what affordable dental care for seniors is available and the processes involved in accessing care.
Why Dental Care Is So Important
Oral health is closely linked to general health. Gum disease, for example, can lead to adverse health problems, including diabetes and heart disease.
Seniors face added threats though. For instance, they are more susceptible to things like tooth loss and root decay, This means regular dental care is even more important for them.
Income has much to do with access to dental care. While more than 82 percent of seniors with annual incomes over $45,000 have one dental visit a year, only 35 percent of those below that threshold did.
The federal marketplace has some dental plans available through private insurance companies. While private dental care for seniors will tend to have higher premiums and other out-of-pocket costs, they are subject to some regulations by the Affordable Care Act. The goal of these is to ensure that senior citizens have access to some form of dental care.
Another option is to buy an independent private dental insurance policy. These are much like traditional health insurance plans, where there are different coverage tiers. Depending on the extent of care you need, paying premiums and deductibles for such plans may be well worth it.
There also are private networks that operate outside of insurance and charge a monthly fee. There is even mobile dental treatment available for seniors that are unable to leave their homes.
No matter where you are accessing dental care, be sure to ask about senior discounts. Also, some dentists offer in-house membership plans. This can help keep costs low as well if you have to pay out-of-pocket.
More than 60 million Americans rely on Medicare as their primary method of accessing healthcare. But original Medicare does not by itself cover dental care. (ar15discounts.com) Medicare Part A, which is for procedures associated with hospitalization, will pay for certain emergency-type procedures (but nothing else).
Medicare Advantage Plans do usually include dental. These are policies offered by private companies that have contracted with Medicare. So, they function much like traditional, private health plans.
Community Dental Centers
There also are federally-qualified community dental centers. Most of these operate on a sliding income scale, which ensures access for those with lower incomes. One downside is that lower-middle-income patients may not be able to access such services.
Dental School Clinics
If there is a dental school in your area, they will have students that need hands-on training for clinical hours. There may be some charge for these services, but it should be nominal. In most cases, the schools will charge for the cost of the supplies only.
Learn More About Dental Care for Seniors
Now that you have an idea of some options for dental care for seniors, you can plan to schedule dental treatment. Be sure to explore all options and make a decision based on a realistic assessment of the care you need or are likely to need in the years to come.
We hope you found this information on senior dental care helpful. If so, be sure to take a look at some of our other posts on health, fitness, lifestyle, and many other topics.