Proper dental care is essential for seniors, but unfortunately, Original Medicare doesn’t cover most dental services. Having to pay out-of-pocket is not ideal, and it causes many beneficiaires to waive dental treatments altogether. Bobby Brock Insurance will explain what you need to know about Medicare and dental coverage.
The Importance of Dental Care for Older Adults
Neglecting oral health and dental hygiene can lead to a host of problems. One issue can lead to another. These are some reasons to take senior dental care seriously:
- Gum disease — which can increase the chances of having a heart attack.
- Pneumonia — Older adults have weakened immune systems and are more prone to sickness. Proper dental care can reduce the amount of potentially harmful bacteria that can be inhaled.
- Root decay — as we grow older, our gums can recede, which can cause tooth roots to become exposed. Without a protective enamel layer, the roots are vulnerable to decay.
- Dry mouth — a common side effect of many required prescription medications.
- Diabetes — Serious gum disease can restrict the body’s ability to utilize insulin. High blood sugar, a normal side effect of diabetes, can lead to initial gum infections. Having regular checkups with your dentist can prevent this problem.
- Stained or darkened teeth — as we age, a bone-like tissue under the enamel layer of our teeth (dentin) starts to change because of what we eat and drink. Years of smoking and/or drinking coffee and soft drinks can cause staining. This, combined with the outer enamel thinning, can cause darkening.
Medicare and Dental services
Most routine dental care, dental procedures, or supplies are NOT covered by Medicare. This includes:
- Tooth extractions
- Dental plates
However, Medicare Part A, which is your hospital insurance, will cover certain dental services provided when you’re hospitalized. If you require emergency or complex dental procedures, Part A can pay for inpatient (hospital) care. Inpatient care includes treatment you receive in a critical access hospital, an acute care hospital, long-term care hospital, inpatient rehab facility, and mental health care.
Medicare Advantage Plans
A small percentage of retirees maintain dental coverage from their past employer or a spouse’s employer. Seniors who don’t have access to this still have some other options.
Some Part C plans, also called Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, have extra benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t, such as vision, hearing, or dental coverage.
According to medicare resources.org, 88% of MA plans provide some dental coverage. For more information about private Medicare Advantage programs, contact the brokers at Bobby Brock Insurance.
Stand-alone dental plans are also available for purchase. Some companies offer dental plans that are specifically tailored to seniors.
Ways to Improve Senior Dental Care
You know that brushing and flossing twice a day (or after meals) has a positive influence on your oral health. Here are some other tips to maintain and improve senior dental care:
- Quit smoking
- Drink tap water
- Use an electric toothbrush, which removes plaque more efficiently.
- Eat a healthy, well-rounded diet that includes high-fiber foods and dairy.
- Visit the dentist regularly for a complete check-up, cleaning, and oral exams.
- If you wear full or partial dentures, clean them daily. It’s best to remove dentures at night.
For all your Medicare questions, contact Bobby Brock Insurance. Our experienced agents are ready to help.