Dental Plans for Seniors

Over time, bones and teeth weaken in strength and become susceptible to breakage and decay, and so an increase in age often signals a greater need for preventative and restorative dental care. The limited availability of affordable dental insurance for seniors creates significant out of pocket costs for necessary dental procedures and unnecessary barriers to getting regular checkups. Medicare will not cover routine checkups, cleanings, fillings, or dentures, or other dental problems unless a medical issue arises from it, and Medicaid has similar limitations. Even supplemental Medicare plans and gap coverage exclude most common procedures, so seniors in particular are poised to benefit from senior dental plans designed to suit their specific needs.

According to the American Dental Hygienist Association, almost 75 percent of American adults have various forms of gum disease but don’t know it. And a whopping 92 percent of seniors 65 and older have had dental caries (decay) in their permanent teeth. Periodontal disease includes both gingivitis and the more severe periodontitis, which can create costly complications when left untreated. Gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss among adults and is correlated with a higher risk for heart disease as well. Tooth decay, though largely preventable, is still the most prevalent chronic disease among both adults and children. It disproportionately affects seniors with lower incomes who often suffer greater severity and more untreated permanent teeth because of the obstacles to obtaining treatment. However, senior dental plans can alleviate some of the treatment costs.

Dental insurance premiums can be prohibitively expensive for seniors who need it most, costing several hundreds of dollars per year, and rates are continually rising. Dental insurance is not even available at all after a certain age. The down sides of insurance plans is a list of having requisite copays, deductibles, exclusions, long waiting periods and spending caps usually $1000 to $1500 which cannot cover much more than routine checkups and a very small fraction of the costs of necessary procedures. It does not pay for implants or dentures, the latter of which can cost up to $50,000 for the All on Four procedure. Most individual dental insurance plans are nothing more than a pre-paid savings plan. Meaning the premiums you are paying, you might get back sometime in the future; most seniors do not come out ahead in the long run.