Dental Insurance for Seniors
As we grow older, decay, inflammation, and disease are more prone to affect our gums and teeth. You may need a dental professional, experienced in Senior Dental Health problems, like osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory disease. According to the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine and the American Dental Association these conditions can also affect dental health and vice-versa, dental health can affect these conditions.
That is the reason why it is extremely important that you have a Dental Insurance Plan that is tailored to the needs of seniors. Not all Dental Plans are created equal and may have exclusions and limitations that come as an unwelcome surprise when you get your bill.
Talk to an expert who can ask you relevant questions and customize a plan to meet your individual needs. Give Amerus Financial a Call today at 1-888-441-7891
Why to consider dental insurance for seniors
According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 27% of all out-of-pocket health-care costs, are related to dental services. Urgent dental needs may receive delayed care because of steep costs.
Major medical insurance policies, such as employee group coverage, do not usually include a dental policy. There are stand-alone dental plans available to cover some of your dental care costs.
Dental insurance plans often require a waiting period for type 2 or 3 treatments, so buying a plan before you have an urgent need is recommended
Standard dental policies
You can purchase an individual dental insurance plan, for premiums typically ranging from $20-$60 a month. Standard policies commonly cover these routine procedures at a family dentist office.
- Basic cleanings and exams: Most policies entitle you to a free basic cleaning and comprehensive exam twice a year.
- X-rays: Dentists periodically take bitewing X-rays of your teeth. X-rays may be fully covered, or you might make a copayment depending on your dental insurance plan,. Additional X-rays of your mouth may require a copayment, coinsurance, or deductible.
- Fillings and extractions: Fillings and extractions usually require a copayment, coinsurance or deductible in most dental insurance plans.
- Certain Procedures : Standard individual dental insurance plans occasionally include partial coverage on some restorative procedures, such as root canals, crowns, bridges, and deep cleanings. Your plan may require a copayment, coinsurance or deductible for procedures and there may be services that are not covered at all. So you know what to expect at your appointment, please carefully review your insurance plan or speak to your insurance agent before your dental appointment. You might need to search for a policy that covers more extensive services.
Enhanced dental policies for seniors
Some dental insurance plans cover a percentage of the costs for services beyond routine exams and fillings. Some examples include (but aren’t limited to):
- Endodontics: Root canals, or the removal of a tooth’s decayed or diseased pulp, are the most common use of endodontics. This may require a specialist.
- Periodontics: Periodontal disease comes in many forms and could end up destroying supporting bones around the teeth. Treatment may include the placement of dental implants and treatment for inflammation. A specialist is often required.
- Dentures: This typically requires many extractions, making it a major procedure, possibly involving multiple visits. Certain family dentists now fit patients for dentures. Specialty offices are more familiar with the process and sometimes offer a smoother process.
- Implants: Some adults who have lost a small number of teeth due to an accident or decay might get dental implants. Implants may eliminate the need for a bridge since the implant looks, feels, and works like a regular tooth. An oral surgeon rather than your family dentist typically does this procedure.
- Orthodontia: This type of service uses braces to align crooked teeth. Most family dentists offer orthodontia.
- Cosmetic services: Bonding, whitening, and veneers are sometimes covered under certain dental policies. Most family dentists offer whitening.
Types of dental plans
The two most common types of individual dental insurance plans available to seniors are
- Managed-care plans (PPOs: preferred provider organizations) negotiate fees with specific providers. These in-network providers request only your percentage of the cost and file any necessary claims on your behalf. Out of network providers that perform procedures may or may not be covered and if they are, it may be at a lesser amount.
- Indemnity plans often include a larger group of providers and you may be able to see the dentist of your choice. The negative side is that patients are often required to pay 100 percent of the bill up front and then submit a claim for reimbursement for the covered procedure.
You can get help choosing an individual dental insurance plan
It’s important to have dental insurance in place before an urgent need arises. Many seniors take daily medications that cause dry mouth, which can cause cavities. Insufficient nutrition can also affect your dental health.
Remember that health problems, like insulin resistance or pneumonia, may be caused or worsened by poor dental hygiene. Intellihealth News Service research has even found a connection between gum disease and heart disease.
Enter your zip code above if you’d like to explore your options for individual dental insurance plans in your area.
This article is for informational purposes only. Nothing in it should be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your medical provider regarding diagnosis or treatment for a health condition, including decisions about the correct medication for your condition, as well as prior to undertaking any specific exercise or dietary routine. In addition, this information includes just some factors to consider when selecting insurance and may not reflect the provisions of any particular insurance product. Always carefully check the provisions of any insurance product you have or may consider purchasing.
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Frequently Asked Questions
True or False: Seniors Can’t Get New Cavities?
False! Actually, cavities happen more frequently in adults.
Why? Because Fluoride wasn’t always in water supplies and toothpaste in the past. If your teeth didn't get enough exposure to fluoride when you were a child, your teeth may be subject to more cavities. Old fillings are target areas for tooth decay.
As we get age, our gums tend to recede, exposing tooth roots. Tooth enamel guards the roots and without its protection your teeth are more susceptible to decay.
Why Are My Teeth Super Sensitive to Hot and Cold?
This can happen to anyone, no matter their age. Your gum tissue recedes, exposing the sensitive root. Temperature extremes may negatively affect these roots. As a quick remedy, rise with a fluoride mouthwash, or switch to a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. If your problem is severe or continues, ask your dentist for help, he may seal or bond the roots or even suggest a soft tissue graft. This procedure uses material, either man-made or from another area of your mouth, to protect exposed roots.
Can I still get braces, as a Senior?
There are no age limitations for correcting misaligned (crooked) teeth. Any age can improve their dental appearance or bite. Your dentist or orthodontist can fit you for braces. It’s more common than you think.
What to do if my teeth feel loose?
Many things can cause this to happen. It may be a bite or clenching issue. It could be a sign of bone loss from gum disease. Talk to your dentist if you are experiencing this. You may need to see a periodontist, a specialist in the mouth's gums and bones. Be ready to discuss your medical history and your oral hygiene habits. Diabetes can also affect your gums and teeth.
Smoking and Oral Health
If you’re a long time smoker, at the least you’re prone to bad breath and stained teeth. It may take longer to recover from a pulled tooth and periodontal treatment. The best solution is to quit smoking as soon as possible, please speak to your dentist about your dental health. Not only does age raise your chances of oral cancer, long-term smoking ads to the likelihood of you contracting oral cancer. If you discover a wound or sore area on your tongue, or anywhere in your mouth, watch it carefully and quickly have it examined.
Dealing with Dentists and Dementia
Dementia patients are typically more alert in the morning, so this is the best time to schedule their appointment. Be specific when telling them where they are going and why. Alert the dentist ahead of time about your friend's condition. Communication always makes a visit go smoother. If possible, have a family member go with you to the appointment who is able to make treatment decisions if the patient is unable.
Regular dentist visits may help diagnose if any procedures are needed, as speed up the process to have work done as soon as possible. This way, if the disease gets worse, your friend should only need simpler maintenance treatments
Why do I have to go to the dentist if I have no teeth?
As you age, your teeth may develop unseen problems. It’s recommended for seniors to visit the dentist at least once a year for a full oral preventative exam.
Your dentist will check for signs of oral cancer and other medical problems of the mouth, head, and neck. If you have dentures, they will also be checked for fit, and routinely cleaned.