Seniors that take care of their dental health are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease, gum disease, and heart disease. However, a recent study from Harvard University has found a direct link between seniors qualifying for Medicare and a drop in dental care. They discovered that Medicare eligibility resulted in senior restorative dental procedures reducing by almost 9%. So, why are seniors avoiding the dentist in their later years and what options do they have?
A lack of dental coverage
When seniors become eligible for Medicare at 65, they don’t get financial help for dental treatment. An alternative is dental insurance, but this comes with an average monthly price tag of $51.49, which a lot of seniors can’t afford. Many seniors think they have no other options so skip the dentist altogether, but this isn’t necessary. One alternative is to choose a Medicare Advantage plan that comes with dental coverage. Although, it’s important to note that the dental care covered will vary per plan, so this should always be checked in full.
Increased risk of tooth loss
The Harvard University researchers also found that when seniors started to receive Medicare, the number of them that experienced complete tooth loss rose by 4.8%. What’s shocking is that 17% of seniors over the age of 65 have lost all of their teeth. Tooth loss is connected to poor nutrition, cognitive impairment, and dementia. Regular visits to the dentist can prevent tooth loss in aging individuals. Tooth loss is usually caused by periodontal disease. Although, your first loss may be the result of an untreated broken tooth, dislodged tooth, cracked tooth, or a lost filling. If you experience any of these issues, an emergency dentist can help to save the tooth. This will hopefully prevent further tooth loss in the future too.
On the plus side, Harvard University didn’t find that Medicare lowered the number of dental checkups seniors had. This shows a keenness from seniors to look after their teeth. Attending these appointments is important for prevention. Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste should also be prioritized. And, if you do need treatment, don’t avoid it, look into free senior dental programs in your area or see if a dental savings plan can help you.
Unfortunately, typical Medicare plans don’t help seniors with their dental care fees. But you must remember that looking after your dental health is vital for preventing a whole host of medical issues.