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Dental Health Matters

Dental Health Matters

Many people are surprised to learn that Medicare does not pay for anything related to keeping your teeth healthy. It does not cover oral exams, teeth cleanings, extractions, fillings, dentures, root canals, or dental implants. Sometimes people assume root canals or dental implants will be covered since these procedures require surgery, but Medicare does not cover root canals or dental implants.

Dental health is intricately linked to overall health. Poor oral health not only leads to discomfort, pain, and tooth loss but also increases the risk of serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and respiratory infections. A common and painful issue for seniors that do not get regular dental exams and cleanings is receding gums. Receding gums, also known as gingival recession, occur when the gum tissue surrounding the teeth wears away or pulls back, exposing the tooth roots and potentially leading to tooth sensitivity, decay, and other dental issues. Dental cleanings and exams every 6 months are crucial for maintaining oral health and preserving the stability of your teeth.

When you're on Medicare, navigating dental care options can be a bit tricky due to the program's limited coverage for dental services. However, there are several avenues you can explore to access dental benefits and maintain your oral health. Here are some options to consider:

Standalone Dental Insurance Plans: One option is to purchase a standalone dental insurance plan from a private insurance company. These plans are designed specifically to cover dental care and may offer a broader range of services compared to Medicare Advantage plans. Standalone dental insurance plans typically come with monthly premiums, deductibles, and co-payments, so it's important to carefully review the plan details, including waiting periods, coverage limits, and network providers, to ensure it meets your needs and budget. You can sign up for a Dental plan today and get coverage the first of the next month. Go to or contact licensed independent agent mary [at] hiattagency [dot] com or call or text 402 672 9449 and let her know your concerns and coverage needs and she can help you at no charge.

Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C): Most Medicare beneficiaries that are on Medicare Advantage plans, also known as Medicare Part C, do not purchase a standalone Dental Insurance plan. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare. It's essential to review the specifics offered by each plan before enrollment.

Discount Dental Plans: Discount dental plans, also known as dental savings plans, are membership-based programs that offer discounted rates on dental services from participating dentists. Unlike traditional insurance plans, discount dental plans do not involve premiums, deductibles, or copayments. Instead, members pay an annual or monthly fee to access reduced rates on dental care. While discount dental plans can be a cost-effective option for some individuals, it's essential to verify the availability of participating dentists in your area and understand the extent of the discounts offered for various services.

Community Health Centers and Free Clinics: Community health centers and free clinics may offer dental services at reduced or no cost for individuals with limited financial resources, including those on Medicare. These facilities often provide basic preventive and diagnostic services such as cleanings, exams, and X-rays, as well as some limited restorative treatments. While availability may vary depending on location and eligibility criteria, community health centers and free clinics can be valuable resources for individuals in need of affordable dental care.

Dental Schools and Teaching Hospitals: Dental schools and teaching hospitals often have clinics where dental students, under the supervision of licensed dentists, provide low-cost dental care to patients. While treatment may take longer due to the educational nature of the setting, services are typically offered at reduced rates compared to private practices. Additionally, some dental schools offer specialized programs for older adults, including comprehensive dental assessments and treatment plans tailored to their needs.

Veterans Affairs (VA) Dental Care: While VA dental benefits are typically limited to veterans with service-connected disabilities, certain veterans may qualify for comprehensive dental care based on their eligibility status. Eligibility criteria and coverage details vary, so it's essential for veterans to contact their local VA facility or visit the VA website to learn more about available dental benefits.

When exploring dental benefits options while on Medicare, it's crucial to consider factors such as coverage, cost, provider networks, and eligibility requirements to determine the best solution for your individual needs. Additionally, maintaining good oral hygiene practices, including regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups, is essential for preventing dental problems and promoting overall oral health and well-being.

Mary Hiatt is President of Mary the Medicare Lady (A non-government entity.) She is a member of a pharmacist-led organization that helps her clients source savings for medications. She offers Educational Workshops on Medicare, Drug Savings, How to Stop Phone Calls, and more at no charge. Not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. government or the federal Medicare program. See or contact licensed independent agent mary [at] hiattagency [dot] com or call or text 402 672 9449 for more information.