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Tips for Affording Senior Dental Care

Health issues can develop and compound as you age, but one area that tends to go untreated is the health of your teeth.  There are many reasons why dental care falls to the back burner – difficulties making it to the dentist, other health issues, or lack of insurance or financial means to afford proper care.  Regardless, it’s important to prioritize dental care for your overall health, so let’s discuss how to get back to the dentist.

Common Senior Dental Issues

At every stage in life, dental health is important, but as you get older your chance for disease increases.  Problems such as dry mouth, tooth decay, and even oral cancer are common aging dental issues.  Even if you use dentures, it’s important to routinely see a dentist, as dentures can also cause problems, sometimes leading to pain in your gums and jaw.  Neglecting your oral hygiene can also lead to larger issues than just cavities or loss of teeth.  Oral health has been linked to a higher risk of diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and heart disease.  According to Senior Caring, these dental concerns can even lead to dementia.

Preventative Care is Important

It is important to practice preventative care at home as well as having regular checkups with the dentist.  Proper care of your teeth can reduce the risk of cavities and gum decay.  Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing is one of the best ways to help protect your teeth.  If arthritis makes it difficult to brush thoroughly, try using an electric toothbrush instead. 

And if you wear dentures, always be sure to clean them thoroughly.  Use the proper brush and cleaner to avoid any damage, and take care to leave them in a proper solution overnight to avoid warping.  By taking care of your teeth daily, you can help prevent dental issues in the future.

Smile Satisfaction

For some seniors, crooked teeth are a troublesome issue from a cosmetic standpoint, but they can also be an issue for maintaining proper dental health. If you can’t reach all of the surfaces in your mouth, it’s easy for bacteria to linger, and this can lead to more problems down the road.

Common correction treatments for crooked teeth include braces and clear aligners. However, braces and the popular Invisalign aligner can be cost-prohibitive. If you’ve put off straightening your teeth due to a tight budget, take heart that you still have options, especially if you only have minor overcrowding. There are home alignment systems that can offer the same results as braces or Invisalign but at a fraction of the cost. According to SmilePrep, the most affordable treatments are AlignerCo, New Smile and SnapCorrect, with the latter being the most expensive at $1,795. Compared to the thousands of dollars required for other treatments, these are serious bargains, and they can help you affordably eliminate crowding for a healthier mouth.

Medicare Coverage

Despite one’s best preventative efforts, sometimes your teeth may need a professional’s help, but going to the dentist is not cheap.  While Original Medicare offers medical and hospital coverage, it is very limited on dental coverage.  If you sustain an injury to your mouth or jaw that requires dental repair, that can sometimes be covered under Medicare.  However, routine cleanings, crowns, bridges, and other types of dental work are not covered.  If you think you need expanded dental coverage, it’s best to consider a Medicare Advantage plan. These alternative plans provide everything you get through Original Medicare, plus additional benefits like dental, vision and prescription coverage.

Affordable Dental Care

Medicare Advantage Plans are an affordable way to seek dental coverage, but there are also other ways to reduce the cost.  According to Money Crashers, there are some creative ways to save money while still receiving quality dental care.  You can look for a dentist that charges for their services using a sliding scale, setting their rates based on your income.  There are even some dentists who offer free services for low-income households.  You can also locate the nearest dental school and receive care from a student under the supervision of a licensed dentist.  With some research and creativity, you can find quality and inexpensive dental care.

Fixed income and limited insurance coverage may cause you to overlook or neglect the health of your teeth, gums, and mouth.  But you have several options to help alleviate the financial expense of dental care.  Enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan or utilize some creative money-saving tips.  Regardless of what you choose, it’s crucial to prioritize your dental health.  Practice daily preventative care and seek regular visits with a dentist to protect not only the health of your teeth but to also protect your entire health overall.

Author: Lydia Chan

Neighborly is dedicated to providing programs and services to benefit seniors and caregivers in Pinellas County. For more information about our services or transportation, please reach out to us today! (727) 573-9444