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Dental Care for Seniors
Today, older adults are keeping their natural teeth longer. We can thank scientific developments and the dental industry’s emphasis on preventive care. With good habits and dental care, you can keep smiling through your golden years. Keep reading for more tips and information.
Dental Challenges as We Age
People of all ages can get cavities, but seniors have some special dental challenges, including:1
- Higher risk of developing decay around older teeth.
- Greater risk of decay of the tooth root itself, if the gum tissue has receded.
- More and faster plaque build up.
- Daily dental hygiene habits can be tricky if you have mobility, dexterity, or vision challenges.
- Dental care can be harder to access if you have medical or behavioral conditions that get in your way.
What are some dental dos and don'ts?
- Don’t skip routine dental check-ups. Visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and oral exams.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking or chewing tobacco increases your risk of gum disease.
- Do brush your teeth at least twice a day.
- Do clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner.
- Do replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles become frayed. A worn toothbrush won't do a good job of cleaning your teeth.
- Do watch your diet. Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.
What are signs to visit the dentist?
Toothaches or Bleeding Gums
Your gum disease risk rises as you get older.1 If you have toothaches or bleeding gums, you don't have to put up with them. Talk to your dentist—there are treatments that can help.
Dry mouth is commonly caused by side effects from medications.2 But it can also be the first sign of a health problem or disease. Talk with your dentist if you have dry mouth.
When should I visit the dentist?
Good dental hygiene and regular dental visits are important no matter your age. Even if you don't have your natural teeth anymore, you should still see your dentist regularly. They will check for problems with your gums, tongue, and jaw. Your dentist will also screen for oral cancer symptoms.
Do I have to pay for dental care if I’m on Medicare?
Some types of Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C) include coverage for basic dental care. Basic dental care includes things like teeth cleanings, routine X-rays, extractions, fillings, and possibly more, depending on the plan. What you pay toward your Medicare plan may vary.
Even if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan that covers basic or routine dental care, it typically will not cover you for major dental bills, such as root canals, implants, gum grafts, etc. This is even more reason to try and maintain your oral health as you age.
How can I find affordable dental care for seniors?
The out-of-pocket costs for major dental procedures can be significant. There may be affordable dental care for older adults, depending on your situation. Try these tips:
- Compare when you shop: If you need an expensive dental procedure, shop around. Costs may vary significantly between dentists in your area.
- Consider buying a standalone dental plan: Standalone dental plans offer many options for coverage, possibly even to cover major dental care. Monthly premiums are often affordable.
- Ask your dentist about a payment plan: Many providers may be able to offer you a payment plan, so you spread out the cost of a dental procedure over monthly payments.
- Contact a local dental school: If you have a dental school in your area, it may offer some low or no-cost care to the community. Dental students have a chance to get experience, and you may have a chance to get some affordable dental care.
- Contact your state health department: They may have information on where to find low-cost dental care in your area.
1 CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/adult-oral-health/adult_older.htm, accessed August, 19, 2021
2 Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms, accessed August 19, 2021
This information is for educational purposes only and is not medical advice. Always consult with your dentist for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing and care recommendations.
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AN OUTLINE OF COVERAGE IS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST. We'll provide an outline of coverage to all persons at the time the application is presented.
Our company and agents are not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. Government or the federal Medicare program. This is a solicitation for insurance. An insurance agent may contact you. Premium and benefits vary by plan selected. Plan availability varies by state. Medicare Supplement policies are underwritten by Cigna National Health Insurance Company, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, American Retirement Life Insurance Company or Loyal American Life Insurance Company. Each insurer has sole responsibility for its own products.
The following Medicare Supplement Plans are available to persons eligible for Medicare due to disability: Plan A in Arkansas, Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia; Plans A, F, and G in North Carolina; and Plans C and D in New Jersey for individuals aged 50-64. Medicare Supplement policies contain exclusions, limitations, and terms under which the policies may be continued in force or discontinued. For costs and complete details of coverage, contact the company.
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In Kentucky, Plans A, F, G, HDG, N are available under Cigna National Health Insurance Company, Plans A, F, G, HDF, N are available under Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company and Plans A, B, C, D, F, G, N are available under Loyal American Life Insurance Company.
Kansas Disclosures, Exclusions and Limitations
Medicare Supplement Policy Forms: Plan A: CNHIC-MS-AA-A-KS, CNHIC-MS-AO-A-KS; Plan F: CNHIC-MS-AA-F-KS, CNHIC-MS-AO-F-KS; Plan G: CNHIC-MS-AA-G-KS, CNHIC-MS-AO-G-KS; Plan N: CNHIC-MS-AA-N-KS, CNHIC-MS-AO-N-KS
Exclusions and Limitations:
The benefits of this policy will not duplicate any benefits paid by Medicare. The combined benefits of this policy and the benefits paid by Medicare may not exceed one-hundred percent (100%) of the Medicare Eligible Expenses incurred. This policy will not pay benefits for the following:
(1) the Medicare Part B Deductible;
(2) any expense which You are not legally obligated to pay; or services for which no charge is normally made in the absence of insurance;
(3) any services that are not medically necessary as determined by Medicare;
(4) any portion of any expense for which payment is made by Medicare or other government programs (except Medicaid); or for which payment would have been made by Medicare if You were enrolled in Parts A and B of Medicare;
(5) any type of expense not a Medicare Eligible Expense except as provided previously in this policy;
(6) any deductible, Coinsurance or Co-payment not covered by Medicare, unless such coverage is listed as a benefit in this policy; or
(7) Preexisting Conditions: We will not pay for any expenses incurred for care or treatment of a Preexisting Condition for the first six (6) months from the effective date of coverage. This exclusion does not apply if You applied for and were issued this policy under guaranteed issue status; if on the date of application for this policy You had at least six (6) months of prior Creditable Coverage; or, if this policy is replacing another Medicare Supplement policy and a six (6) month waiting period has already been satisfied. Evidence of prior coverage or replacement must have been disclosed on the application for this policy. If You had less than six (6) months prior Creditable Coverage, the Preexisting Conditions limitation will be reduced by the aggregate amount of Creditable Coverage. If this policy is replacing another Medicare Supplement policy, credit will be given for any portion of the waiting period that has been satisfied.