Prioritizing your health — including oral health — gets only more important with age. read more
Senior Dental Health Articles
Medicare provides great health insurance for people aged 65 and older, but it can also be confusing to navigate when applying for coverage and trying to understand what care will be paid for. Not to mention, Medicare does not include all types of care, like certain dental and vision services. We’ve got the information you need about what Medicare coverage provides and doesn’t provide, so you can make smarter decisions in purchasing supplemental plans. Medicare coverage: the basics Medicare can be categorized into different types, referred to as “parts.” Here’s what you need to know about Parts A through D. Medicare Part A Part A is hospital insurance, meaning you’re covered for: Inpatient hospital stays Care you receive in a skilled nursing facility Hospice care Some health care Medicare Part B Part B is medical insurance, which covers certain doctors’ services, along with medical supplies, preventive services, and outpatient care. Medicare Part C Part C is referred to as Medicare Advantage. It’s an alternative option to Original Medicare, as it’s an all-in-one solution that bundles Parts A and B. Part D (see below) is usually included as well, but you’ll need to confirm based on your policy. Medicare Part D Part D is prescription drug coverage. You can add this coverage to your Medicare plan if you want, but you’ll need to get it from either an insurance provider or private company that has Medicare approval. Does Medicare cover dental? In the above list of Medicare types, you’ll notice no mention of dental. Unfortunately, that’s because only Part C covers dental services, except in the case of in-hospital or emergency dental work. In these cases, Part A may step in — but the dental care itself may still not be covered (complicated, we know). What dental services are covered by Medicare? At a higher monthly premium, Medicare Part C covers routine dental care like exams, cleanings and x-rays. But even with this coverage, you’ll have to pay 100% for more extensive and costly procedures like root canals, bridges and crowns (unless deemed medically necessary). Does Medicare cover vision? Like dental care, vision services are also only covered under Medicare Advantage or when vision services are deemed medically necessary. But receiving this care is important, especially when you’re older. If you rely only on Medicare and you need a routine exam for your glasses or contacts, you’ll likely pay for it out of pocket unless you have additional coverage. What vision services are covered by Medicare? Medicare Part B might help with the costs of tests and treatments related to certain eye or vision disorders, like glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease. If you need surgery and corrective lenses for cataracts, or if you suffer from an eye injury, Medicare may assist in those situations as well. How to get dental and vision coverage on Medicare When Medicare falls short, don’t fret — you’ve got other options! People on Medicare have a couple of options to improve their dental and vision coverage with standalone or supplemental plans. Get standalone dental and vision insurance Seniors have a lot to consider when it comes to their oral health. The risk for problems like cavities and gum disease, as well as mouth cancer, increases with age. You may end up needing expensive procedures like extractions or root canals, or decide to get dentures or implants. This all adds up, but the right insurance can help you rest easy knowing costs are covered and you don’t have to break the bank to maintain a healthy and beautiful smile. Signing up for a standalone dental or vision insurance plan, like those offered by Spirit, provides more options and flexibility and puts you in control of your coverage and care. Get supplemental dental insurance Supplemental dental insurance helps to fill the gaps left by Medicare, enabling you to get the dental and vision services you need without paying in full. This means dental care like fillings, extractions, dentures, root canals and crowns, as well as vision exams, treatments and affordable glasses or contact lenses. Spirit Dental & Vision has you covered Keeping our mouths and eyes healthy is important at any age. Spirit Dental & Vision has numerous vision and dental insurance plans for individuals on Medicare to augment their coverage. Get a quote to find the right policy for you today.
As you get older, your teeth and gums change. This means you might need to see the dentist more often to treat problems like tooth decay and gum disease. It’s just part of the aging process. Unfortunately, dental care can be expensive, especially when you need to pay for it all out of pocket. And, as a senior, that can be really hard to do. Thankfully, dental insurance can help you save! When it comes to dental insurance for senior citizens, you have many options, and you don’t need to break the bank to get the right level of coverage. To show you what we mean, here’s a brief guide to dental insurance for seniors. Should seniors buy dental insurance? Absolutely! Having the right insurance can help you rest assured you’ll be able to see the dentist for preventive care and emergency treatments. As mentioned above, your teeth and gums change with age. Problems like cavities, root decay, and gingivitis or gum disease might arise. Some seniors end up losing their teeth, which might affect the jawbone or bite, while others develop uncomfortable dry mouth. And if you wear dentures, you might experience issues like inflammation. Plus, you might be at a higher risk of fungal infections or oral cancer. Wow, that’s a lot! Also worth noting: other health concerns (e.g. diabetes) might impact your mouth. And oral health problems might lead to issues in other areas of the body (e.g. cardiovascular disease). The point is you never know what will happen to your oral health, even if you always had strong teeth when you were younger. That’s why it’s wise to shop for affordable dental insurance for seniors. A plan that suits your fixed budget can help ensure you won’t ever have to skip a trip to the dentist. Does Medicare provide dental coverage? Many people are under the impression that Medicare will be there to help cover the cost of dental care, but the harsh truth is this isn’t the case. So, if you don’t plan accordingly, you might find yourself lacking the coverage you need to afford treatments. In fact, experts have found that roughly 65% of seniors on Medicare don’t have any dental coverage at all. Medicare Part A and Park B won’t cover routine dental care, such as exams, cleanings, and various restorative treatments. You might, however, receive some support if you need oral care that’s related to a medical condition. One way to get dental insurance for seniors on Medicare is by signing up for a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan. Options vary, so it’s best to thoroughly check a plan’s details to be sure you’ll receive routine dental care benefits at a price you can afford. What about Medicaid? If you’re eligible for Medicaid, you might be able to get some dental benefits. However, this may depend on where you live, as some states don’t provide any dental coverage while others might have limitations on what’s covered. Be sure to read the fine print so you’ll know exactly what you can get and what you’ll need to pay for out of pocket. Consider stand-alone dental insurance plans for seniors If you’re planning on buying dental insurance on your own, there are a couple of ways you can go about doing so. One option is to head to Healthcare.gov or your state-run Marketplace. Some companies that provide health insurance also offer dental plans, or you might be able to get dental coverage as part of a health plan. However, there might be limitations on when you can sign up, or you might be required to buy a medical plan if you’re purchasing a dental plan. Alternatively, you can purchase plans directly from insurance providers, and you can do so at any time of the year. This gives you a lot of freedom, and you can look at all of the details to compare plans carefully. Then, just select the one that will give you exactly what you want. Spirit offers high-quality dental plans for seniors At Spirit, you can find affordable yet comprehensive options designed for seniors. Perks include three cleanings per year, no waiting periods, high dental insurance annual maximums up to $5,000, coverage for implants, and the option of seeing any dentist you choose. All of this means you can get valuable support when paying for everything from preventive care to major services, so you won’t need to go over your budget or sacrifice getting the high-quality care you deserve. Keeping your smile bright and healthy in your golden years has never been easier! Sources: https://www.marketwatch.com/picks/guides/insurance/dental-insurance-for-seniors-are-these-plans-worth-it/ https://www.healthmarkets.com/resources/medicare/dental-coverage-for-seniors-over-65/ https://www.dentalhealth.org/news/hidden-tooth-infections-increase-heart-disease-risk-by-almost-three-times https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/gum-disease-and-the-connection-to-heart-disease https://www.axios.com/seniors-medicare-dental-insurance-f6a86baf-5cb1-4c9b-8667-7da310697aaf.html https://www.healthcare.gov/coverage/dental-coverage/
There are multiple types of hearing loss, and one of them is sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). It’s important to know about it, including what can cause it and how it can be treated, because once you’re informed, you can take steps to protect or improve your own hearing or that of your loved ones. Ready to dive into this topic? Keep reading to access some helpful information. What is sensorineural hearing loss? Put simply, sensorineural hearing loss—a common cause of permanent hearing loss—occurs when the inner ear is damaged. For example, the auditory nerve or the tiny hair cells might be damaged, and that may result in loss of hearing. When this hearing loss develops, it could be mild, moderate, or severe, and it might also cause a total loss of hearing. Also, it might happen in one or both ears. If you experience SNHL, you might notice symptoms like the following: Trouble hearing people when they’re speaking, especially women and children Difficulty hearing sounds that are high-pitched Difficulty hearing when you’re in an environment with loud noise or background noise Tinnitus Trouble balancing Dizziness These symptoms may occur gradually, so you might not immediately realize that anything is wrong. However, if you develop sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), you may notice your hearing has changed over the course of days or even more rapidly than that. What can cause sensorineural hearing loss? This type of hearing loss can develop at some point in a person’s life or it might be present at birth. Although it isn’t always possible to pinpoint the cause of sensorineural hearing loss, some of the potential causes include: Aging Illness, such as from a viral infection or autoimmune disorder Meniere's disease Exposure to loud noises Tumor Trauma to the head Certain medications Genetics Can sensorineural hearing loss be treated? Good news: with the help of a doctor, you might be able to get a hearing aid that will help you hear better if you’re diagnosed with SNHL! You can also try using other tools, such as a phone amplifier, to see if they’re helpful as well. If the hearing loss is severe, your doctor might recommend getting a cochlear implant, which would need to be surgically placed. Learning speech reading and sign language might also be beneficial. Work with your doctor to keep track of your hearing As you get older, you might notice that your ability to hear starts to change. Or, you might experience an injury or be exposed to super loud noises that lead to changes in your hearing. When you notice that something isn’t right, it’s best to let your doctor know as soon as possible so you can figure out what’s going on and receive the right treatment. Another great way to keep track of your hearing is by seeing a doctor for a hearing test on a regular basis. By having a professional check your ability to hear sounds at various pitches, you might be able to find changes or problems in their earliest stages, maybe even before you notice anything is different. Whether your hearing loss is the result of the normal aging process or a condition that should be addressed, your doctor can be there to guide you. Sources: https://www.asha.org/public/hearing/sensorineural-hearing-loss/ https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003291.htm https://www.healthline.com/health/sensorineural-hearing-loss https://www.hearingloss.org/hearing-help/hearing-loss-basics/types-causes-and-treatment/ https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/hearing-loss/types-of-hearing-loss https://www.hear-it.org/Sensorineural-hearing-loss https://www.enthealth.org/conditions/sensorineural-hearing-loss/
Have you noticed that you’re having trouble hearing? This can be incredibly frustrating, and it can get in the way of your ability to enjoy life. But there’s no need to live with hearing loss. Seeing a doctor can help you pinpoint the cause, and you might also discover that getting a hearing aid is the simple solution to hearing better. There are different types of hearing aids available, so you might be wondering how you can go about selecting the one that’s right for you. We’re here to help with the brief guide below. What are the different types of hearing aids? To be able to choose the right hearing aid, you first need to have a basic understanding of the various options a doctor might recommend based on the type of hearing loss you’ve experienced. And the great news is you can find a hearing aid that’s so small no one will even know you’re wearing it! Think about how large you want a hearing aid to be, and how you’d like it to fit on or in your ear. This can help you narrow down your options. Just keep in mind that your doctor will be able to confirm whether a specific type of hearing aid will be able to improve your ability to hear, as different products may be designed for different types and levels of hearing loss. Here are some of the main types of hearing aids to consider: Behind the Ear (BTE) hearing aid – Part of this hearing aid sits behind the ear and another part of it sits in the ear canal. The Receiver-in-Canal (RIC) hearing aid has similar features. This design might be a good choice if you don’t want it to be obvious to others that you’re wearing a hearing aid. Open-fit hearing aid – This hearing aid is less obvious, and it’s similar to the BTE type. It doesn’t cover the ear canal, so it helps you hear certain frequencies that you have trouble with, while allowing others to be heard naturally. In the Ear (ITE) hearing aid – This type of hearing aid sits inside your ear canal. Some of these are more obvious than others, depending on their size and how deeply into the ear canal they sit. Examples include Completely in the Canal (CIC) and In the Canal (ITC) models. A high-tech hearing aid can make life easier Modern advancements have made hearing aids better than ever. Today, you can talk to your doctor about various hearing aids, but you can also discuss myriad features that make them even more effective and easier to use. One feature you might want to consider is a rechargeable battery. Rather than having to worry about tiny batteries that you’d need to change regularly, you can go with a hearing aid that you can recharge over and over again. Super convenient! Bluetooth technology built into a hearing aid can be a fun feature you might want to take advantage of. With this tech, you can connect your hearing aid to a mobile device or computer so you can enjoy entertainment and phone calls. The most important things are comfort and effectiveness! No matter which type of hearing aid you go with, and regardless of how advanced it is, what you really want is for it to be effective and comfortable. Even though you might be concerned about how visible a hearing aid will be, it’s wise to focus more on finding the product that will improve your hearing without any feedback. Your doctor can help you select a hearing aid that fits perfectly and is simple for you to set in place and use daily. It might take some trial and error, but once you start using the right hearing aid, you may never want to go back to life without it! Sources: https://www.drugs.com/cg/how-to-choose-a-hearing-aid.html https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hearing-loss/in-depth/hearing-aids/art-20044116 https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2021/choosing-a-hearing-aid.html https://newtonhearing.com/2019/04/16/what-is-an-open-fit-hearing-aid/ https://ilovehearing.com/2020/03/23/hearing-aid-styles-explained/ http://www.srinivasentclinic.com/hearingaids.html
Do you hear a ringing, clicking, buzzing, humming, or hissing sound in one or both ears, even though those sounds aren’t in your environment? You might have tinnitus. And you probably want to get rid of this annoying, frustrating problem as soon as possible. Your doctor will be able to evaluate your ears and discuss your symptoms to figure out what’s going on. But if it’s tinnitus, is there anything you can do? Below, we discuss some of the treatment options that are available. Treatment options for Tinnitus Tinnitus could be a temporary ailment or it could be chronic, and the treatment your doctor will recommend may be based on whether it’s a long-term or short-term problem. If you can determine the cause of the ringing in your ears, and you’re able to fix the problem, your tinnitus may go away. For instance, if you have a buildup of wax in your ear and you remove the wax, your tinnitus symptoms might subside. Or, if you were exposed to very loud music or noise, you might experience temporary tinnitus that will go away on its own. Unfortunately, when it comes to chronic tinnitus, your doctor might not have a way to get rid of it. For example, if your tinnitus is caused by hearing loss, there might not be much that you can do. Instead, the focus may be on helping you pay less attention to the ringing in your ears so it doesn’t get in the way of daily activities. Here are some examples of the ways you can manage tinnitus: Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) - The goal of this treatment is to help you become less aware of the tinnitus, sort of like when you become used to other types of background noise to the point that you’re no longer bothered by it because your brain isn’t focused on it. Through therapy and the use of a device like a sound generator in the ear, TRT might help improve your quality of life. Noise suppressing or masking device - This type of device is similar to a hearing aid because you place it in your ear. It produces sounds that may help block out tinnitus. A doctor can help you get the right type of device for your symptoms so you can achieve the best results. Medications - Some medications might be helpful in managing tinnitus, and your doctor might be able to recommend a few options. Some people might get relief if they take an anti-anxiety medicine or an antidepressant. But if there’s a health problem causing the tinnitus, a medication that tackles that ailment may be the solution. White noise machine - Tinnitus might be super bothersome when your environment is quiet because you may notice it more when there are no other sounds to distract you. In that case, a white noise machine might be effective. It works by creating the background noise that can help you focus less on the ringing in your ear. Addressing the underlying conditions causing Tinnitus As mentioned above, tinnitus might be a symptom of an underlying problem. So, you may be able to reduce or get rid of the tinnitus by properly treating the condition that’s causing it. For instance, if your tinnitus has come about because of hearing loss, using a hearing aid might help, but this may depend on the type of hearing loss you’ve developed. On the other hand, if you’re experiencing tinnitus because there’s too much wax in your ear, a doctor can help by removing all of that excess wax safely. Blood vessel conditions and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) are two examples of health problems that might lead to tinnitus. Receiving the appropriate care and medicine for those problems might be all you need to start getting some relief. In some cases, a medication might cause tinnitus as a side effect. If that happens, you might be able to use a different product that won’t have the same effect on your ears. Simple enough! Don’t hesitate to get help for your Tinnitus Tinnitus can be a difficult condition to deal with every day, but there are things you can do about it, even if you can’t eliminate it. Go ahead and talk to a doctor about your symptoms. You might be surprised by the many different methods that can be used to deal with this common problem, so you don’t have to keep living with it if it’s getting in the way or taking a toll on your quality of life. Sources: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tinnitus/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350162 https://www.ata.org/managing-your-tinnitus/treatment-options https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/understanding-tinnitus-treatment https://www.healthyhearing.com/help/tinnitus/treatment https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tinnitus/symptoms-causes/syc-20350156 https://www.miracle-ear.com/hearing-diseases/tinnitus-ringing-ears/ear-ringing-myths-and-facts
Age-related hearing loss is also known as presbycusis. It’s the gradual loss of hearing that might occur in both of your ears as you get older. Many seniors have some degree of hearing loss—in the U.S., roughly 50% of people over 85, and around 33% of individuals over 65, are affected. But this type of hearing loss might occur earlier than you expect, as some people show signs of it by their 30s. The harsh truth is you can’t reverse this type of hearing loss, and it might end up being a part of your body’s aging process. But there are some things you can do about it. What should you know about age-related hearing loss so you can take better care of yourself? We’ve got you covered with some helpful information below. The symptoms of age-related hearing loss Although symptoms might be different from one person to the next, when this hearing loss occurs, you may have trouble hearing and understanding people during conversations, and you may have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. There might also be tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and you might have trouble figuring out where sounds are coming from. Also, you might find that, when listening to someone talking to you, they sound like they are mumbling, so it’s hard to make out their words. A man’s voice might be clearer because it’s deeper than a woman’s voice. And, if there is background noise, you may find it even harder to hear and understand what someone is saying. As you probably imagine, this can become extremely frustrating. The thing to keep in mind is that this type of hearing loss doesn’t usually come on suddenly. Instead, it tends to occur little by little, worsening over time as you lose the ability to hear different pitches and volumes. So, you might not notice that you’re losing your hearing at first. The people around you, however, might notice that you can’t hear them as well, you’re talking louder than you used to, or you need to increase the volume on the TV more than you used to. The causes of age-related hearing loss As the name implies, age-related hearing loss might simply be a result of changes that occur as your body ages. But this isn’t the only possible cause. For example, certain health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease, might lead to this type of hearing loss, or you might inherit this problem if you have a family history of it. Also, your lifestyle might play a role in whether or not you develop age-related hearing loss. For example, if you’re often in an environment with loud noise, it might increase the odds of losing your hearing. And taking certain medications or smoking might be other risk factors to consider. What can be done about presbycusis? Because you might not realize that you’re experiencing age-related hearing loss, especially in its early stages, it’s a good idea to have your ears examined and your hearing tested regularly. That way, your doctor can alert you to changes in your ability to hear, even if you aren’t yet aware of them. In the event that you’re diagnosed with this condition, your doctor might be able to prescribe a hearing aid that will help you hear better. So, even though it isn’t reversible, you might be able to tackle this problem quite easily. Take steps to protect your hearing! Leading a healthy lifestyle and taking steps to protect your hearing is wise, even while you’re young and you aren’t really thinking about hearing loss. By taking smart steps today, you might be able to prevent problems in the future. For example, if you enjoy listening to music with earbuds, don’t set the volume too high. Avoid situations in which you’d be exposed to loud noise, especially for extended periods of time. And wear earplugs to help protect your ears when you can’t avoid loud sounds. Remember, age-related hearing loss can’t be undone, but you might be able to use a hearing aid. And trips to an audiologist to have your hearing tested often can help you find out if you’re losing your hearing and need to do something about it.. Sources: https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/a/age-related-hearing-loss-presbycusis.html https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/age-related-hearing-loss/