By Chelsi Walker
Keeping up with regular dental care is much more than just keeping those pearly whites, well, pearly and white. Maintaining your oral health is an important part of keeping yourself in good health overall. Not only can poor oral health lead to further dental issues in the future, it's been linked with serious illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and even dementia.
This is why it’s vital for people of all ages, but especially seniors and high risk populations, to have access to adequate, regular dental care. That being said, even preventative care like cleanings can be REALLY expensive, especially if you don’t have dental insurance. A poll conducted by the University of Michigan found that roughly half of seniors lack dental insurance, with cost being the number one variable reported that prevented adults over 65 from seeking the dental care they needed over the prior year.
How To Choose Dental Insurance for Seniors
Step 1: Assess What’s Available to You
Seniors are left between a rock and a hard place when it comes to dental insurance. While many seniors are eligible for government-sponsored insurance like Medicare, this typically does not include dental care. And while some seniors are still working, many are retired, meaning they don’t have the option for employer-sponsored plans. So what’s left?
Some Medicare plans, like Medicare Part A, cover emergency dental care while you’re in the hospital, but waiting until things are that bad isn’t ideal. If you have a plan through a state or federal Marketplace exchange, you may have the option to add dental coverage to your existing plan.
If none of the above is available to you, explore other options like private dental insurance for seniors.
Step 2: Consider the Level of Care You Need
Yes, it's best to cover all your dental care bases with your insurance if possible. But, it's not worth wasting your money on coverage you’ll never use. When choosing a dental plan, look for one that pays for the things you need the most, whether its regular cleanings or more
specialized care. If you don’t see a plan within your price range that offers the kind of coverage you’re looking for, it may be time to explore other routes, like a dental discount plan (we’ll touch more on this shortly).
Step 3: Compare Your Options to Find Your Perfect Fit
Once you have all your possible options laid out in front of you, it's time to do some digging to figure out which one makes the most sense. Ideally, you want to land in the sweet spot between cost and coverage. You’ll want to study the following to get an idea of what works best:
Step 4: Choose Your Plan or Consider Alternatives
Now that you have all the information you need to make an informed decision, it's time to pick your plan. And, using this guide, be sure you shop around each year when the time comes to make sure you’re still getting the best deal.
Can’t find a plan that works, or don’t think it's worth the expense? There are some viable alternatives to dental insurance, like a dental discount plan. There are typically monthly or yearly subscription plans that reduce your out-of-pocket costs. Your dental care provider may also offer financing options or payment plans, so make sure you discuss these things with your dentist one-on-one.