Why Is Dental Care for Seniors Important?
Oral health is important throughout our lives. We may be prone to cavities when we are younger and experience more complicated dental concerns as we age. Darkening of teeth, root decay, gum disease, dry mouth and loss of teeth are all things we may face in our senior years, which is why dental care for seniors is important.
Dental care is crucial to keep your mouth and teeth healthy. Certain dental problems may even cause more serious health issues if not treated properly. Daily home dental care is important, so is seeing a dentist regularly. Do you have questions about dental costs? Do you wonder if dental care is covered by health insurance? When is it time for implants or dentures? Let’s take a look at all the details surrounding dental care for seniors.
What to Know About Your Dental Care
Brushing and flossing your teeth every day is a good way to keep your teeth from decaying and discoloring. There are several factors, like arthritis, that may make it difficult for you to clean your teeth efficiently.
Sometimes, even with your best efforts, you may experience unpleasant dental issues brought on by certain medications. Many prescription medications for asthma, high blood pressure, depression and Alzheimer’s tend to leave you with dry mouth. Dry mouth can result in cavities and other oral hygiene problems. Remember to tell your dentist about your list of medications.
A regular teeth-cleaning routine is essential. Also, during your visit, your dentist will check for any problems or issues that you may have and suggest a treatment plan.
What Are the Benefits of Teeth Cleaning?
For optimal teeth health, you should be brushing twice a day and flossing once a day at home. Make sure that you use a soft-bristle toothbrush to ensure that you do not aggravate your gums. Look for toothbrushes with longer handles if you have arthritis, as this can make it easier to reach your molars.
Also remember that visiting your dentist twice a year is recommended to get a routine cleaning and to check for any gum disease, loose teeth, or any other problems. This deep cleaning method will help keep your teeth as healthy as possible and for as long as possible. We know, the costs of regular dental visits may be expensive for some. But the benefits of regular cleanings outweigh the cost of more serious dental issues down the road.
What About Health Insurance?
Dental cleanings on average cost approximately $300 to $500 every year. This excludes any other procedures like x-rays or anything else that may need to be done at the dentist.
Medicare does not cover dental procedures unless it is medically required. For example, medical requirements include emergency teeth extractions or hospitalizations due to infection.
If you have Medicare there are plans you can purchase to help with costs of dentist visits. Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans are monthly plans that cost between $30 and $50 monthly and cover dental costs with deductibles. Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit the Medicare website for more information.
Private Dental Insurance
Many insurance companies offer dental plans for approximately $30 per month with deductibles that can vary between $50 to $75 and carry a $1000 to $1500 annual limit. This may be a good option if your teeth are relatively healthy. Otherwise, you may end up paying out of pocket for the more expensive procedures.
Dental Savings Plans
Dental savings plans, also known as dental discount plans, are annual memberships that let you get instant discounts at participating dentists and dental care specialists. On average, plans start at $80 per year and you get between 10% and 60% instant discounts on your procedures. Check out the DentalPlans website for more information.
Other Options for Making Dental Care Prices Manageable
Dental Lifeline Network is a nationwide charitable foundation that can help you find dental practitioners in your area that offer low-cost dental care for seniors.
Another option is Health Center Program services. They offer free or pay-what-you-can dental help if you are financially incapable of paying for dental care.
Also, you may be eligible for Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) if you are over 55 and live in an assisted living facility.
Is it Time for Dental Bridges, Dental Implants, or Dentures?
Even with our best efforts and regular dental visits, there may come a time when teeth need to be extracted and replaced with dentures, bridges, or implants.
Dental bridges involve shaving away the diseased teeth, creating new fake teeth to replace them. They are then attached with a bridge to the surrounding teeth. Or there are dental implants. These are the complete removal of diseased teeth and replacing them with new fake teeth usually with screws.
Then, there are dentures. You may need dentures if you need several teeth extracted. A set of replacement teeth are created and rest on your gums. Visit the American Academy of Implant Dentistry for more information.
Take Care of Your Teeth
We all want a nice white smile and healthy teeth. A healthy smile makes us look more youthful. It’s crucial to take care of your oral hygiene in order to keep those pearly whites as healthy as possible for as long as you can.