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Dental Insurance for Seniors

Dental Insurance for Seniors

Older adults sometimes need special dental care. As we age, our teeth and gums become more susceptible to cavities, infections, and disease. Health problems like osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory disease can also affect dental health, and sometimes the reverse is true, according to Columbia University School of Dentistry and the Association. American Dental. Read more: Finding the best Dental insurance in Florida.

Why consider dental insurance for seniors?

Of all out-of-pocket medical expenses, 27% are related to dental services, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Some people are late with dental care due to expense.

Dental insurance is generally not included in major health insurance policies, like insurance you get from your employer. You can buy a separate dental plan to cover some of your dental care costs.

Keep in mind that dental insurance often requires a waiting period for more expensive treatments, so it is best not to wait until you need dental insurance to obtain it.

Standard dental policies

You can buy an individual dental insurance plan, usually for a low monthly premium. Standard policies generally cover these routine procedures, which are generally performed by dentists:

  • Periodic Cleaning and Testing - Most policies entitle you to a free cleaning and a thorough review twice a year.
  •  X-rays: Dentists periodically take X-rays of your teeth. Depending on your dental insurance plan, X-rays may be covered in full or you may pay a copayment. Other X-rays of the mouth may require a copayment, coinsurance, or deductible.
  • Fillings and Extractions: Fillings (removing cavities and fillings with adhesive material) and extractions (removing the tooth from the mouth) generally require a copayment, coinsurance, or deductible in most dental insurance plans.
  • Certain Repairs - Individual standard dental insurance plans sometimes include partial coverage for certain reconstructive procedures, such as root canals, crowns, bridges, and deep cleaning. Dental insurance plans generally require a copayment, insurance coinsurance, or discount for these procedures, if they cover them. However, you may want to research a policy that covers these more expensive services.

Enhanced dental policies for seniors

Some dental insurance policies pay a portion of the costs for services other than routine exams and fillings. Some examples include (but are not limited to):

  • Treatment of the root of the tooth: root canals, or the removal of pulp affected by cavities or diseases, is the most common use of dentistry. Sometimes your family dentist can perform this repair or may refer you to a specialist.
  •  Periodontitis: Gum disease comes in many forms and can eventually destroy the supporting bones around the teeth. Treatment may include the placement of dental implants and treatment of the infection. A specialist is often required.
  • Dentures: Denture placement generally requires multiple tooth extractions, making them a major procedure and can include multiple visits. Some dentists now install dentures for patients. Specialized offices are more familiar with the process and sometimes offer a faster response.
  • Implants: Some adults who have lost some teeth due to an accident or tooth decay may receive dental implants. Implants can eliminate the need for a bridge because the implant looks, feels, and functions like a normal tooth. This procedure is usually performed by an oral surgeon and not by a family dentist.
  • Orthodontics: This type of service includes braces to align crooked teeth. Most family dentists offer braces.
  • Cosmetic Services - Bonding, whitening, and veneers are sometimes covered by some dental policies. Many dentists offer teeth whitening.

Types of dental plans

There are two main types of individual dental plans that can apply to seniors:

  • Managed care plans (often preferred provider organizations or PPOs) negotiate rates with specific providers. In-network service providers only ask for your share of the cost and provide the necessary documentation on your behalf. Out-of-network provider actions are sometimes covered, but often in smaller amounts.Often times, 
  • compensation plans involve a larger group of providers and you will be able to see the dentist of your choice. The downside is that patients are often required to pay 100 percent of the bill in advance and then file a claim for compensation for the covered procedure.

You can get help choosing an individual dental insurance plan

Don't wait until you feel uncomfortable to get dental insurance. Many older people take daily medications that cause dry mouth, which can lead to cavities. Insufficient nutrition can also affect tooth health, according to reports from the Columbia University School of Dental Medicine.

Be aware that some health problems, such as pneumonia and insulin resistance, can result from poor dental hygiene. Research has even found a link between gum disease and heart disease.

If you want to explore your options for individual dental insurance plans in your area, just click the button on the right side of this page. You can also request our newsletter at the bottom right of this page if you want to keep up to date with health and insurance related updates.

This article is for informational purposes only. Nothing in it should be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult your healthcare provider regarding the diagnosis or treatment of a health condition, including decisions about the correct medications for your condition, as well as before engaging in any specific exercise or diet. Additionally, this information includes only some of the factors that should be considered when choosing insurance and may not reflect the provisions of any particular insurance product.