How to Get Affordable Senior Dental Care

Senior Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
September 28, 2023

An older couple researching affordable dental care on Spirit Dentals website

As we age, our teeth undergo a multitude of changes and challenges, often resulting in dental problems that demand attention. These issues not only affect our oral health but can also have broader implications for our overall well-being. For seniors, these dental issues aren't merely inconveniences but can profoundly affect their daily lives. 

Whether you're a senior seeking ways to preserve your dental health or a caregiver helping a loved one on this journey, we’ll dive into the most common dental problems faced by older adults and highlight ways to ensure that aging gracefully includes maintaining a healthy smile.

Aging teeth

Here are some of the most prevalent problems that seniors encounter:

  1. Tooth Decay: Tooth decay, or dental caries, is a pervasive issue among seniors. It occurs when plaque builds up on the teeth and produces acids that erode tooth enamel, leading to cavities. Seniors are particularly susceptible to this problem due to changes in saliva composition and reduced enamel strength over time.
  2. Root Decay: Our gums recede with age, exposing the roots of our teeth. This exposed root is more vulnerable to decay than the enamel-covered part of the tooth, making root decay a more common concern for older adults.
  3. Gum Disease: Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is a serious threat that can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. Seniors are at an increased risk due to factors like decreased immune function and the cumulative effects of poor oral hygiene over the years.
  4. Tooth Loss: Tooth lost is a significant concern for seniors that can result from a combination of factors like decay, gum disease and injury. Losing teeth can impact a person’s ability to chew and speak — and can greatly affect their self-esteem.
  5. Denture-Induced Stomatitis: This condition is an inflammation of the tissues beneath dentures, often caused by poor-fitting dentures, inadequate cleaning or prolonged denture use.

Another thing for seniors to consider is prescription or over-the-counter medications they may be taking. Some medications can have adverse effects on oral health. Dry mouth (xerostomia), a side effect of some medications, can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Paying for dental care on a fixed income

It can be daunting to think about the costs of dental care when you’re living on a fixed income, especially when faced with the prospect of expensive dental treatments. Many seniors require restorative treatments like dentures, bridges, or dental implants to maintain their oral health and quality of life. However, these treatments can come with a hefty price tag that may strain your budget.

One avenue to explore is Medicare dental coverage. Traditional Medicare, Part A and Part B, generally doesn’t cover routine dental care, but some Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans offer dental benefits. It’s essential for seniors to review the specific dental coverage options available within their Medicare plan or consider switching to a Medicare Advantage plan that includes dental benefits if they anticipate needing extensive dental care.

For those seeking more comprehensive dental coverage, supplemental insurance with a standalone dental plan is a viable option. 

Enrolling in dental insurance

Dental insurance policies provide coverage for a range of dental services, including preventive care, basic procedures and even major restorative treatments. While there may be a monthly premium associated with standalone dental plans, they can ultimately help offset the costs of expensive treatments and get seniors the care they need without putting a strain on their finances. 

When exploring insurance options, consider factors like coverage and waiting periods. Some plans offer immediate full coverage for dentures, meaning that as soon as you enroll you can access benefits that cover some of the cost for dentures and other treatments. Having immediate full coverage ensures that you can address your needs without delays. 

Additionally, the type of dental network associated with your plan can greatly impact your experience. Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) dental plans are known for flexibility and savings, and typically offer the freedom to choose the dentist or specialist that suits your needs. PPO plans also often provide further savings when you visit in-network dentists, helping you get the most value out of your coverage.

Spirit has you covered

Spirit Dental offers various flexible dental insurance plans for seniors that provide coverage for a wide range of services. Explore plan options to keep your smile healthy — at any age.

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