What Seniors Should Know About Oral Health and Affordable Dental Care
As we reach our golden years, we become more susceptible to dental problems. Oral health issues include bone loss, tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss that could lead to implants or dentures. Many seniors don’t notice the problems until it’s too late, which makes it even more important to protect your dental health as you age. Routine dental maintenance is of the utmost importance, as dental health is connected to whole body health.
While the most important factor in keeping costs down is to take care of your oral health in your youth, it’s not too late for older adults to start getting regular checkups and adopt an oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing.
Dental care might seem out of reach for seniors on a budget, but there are affordable options that are available to you if you’re in need of dental treatment.
Visiting a dental school can be a great option for quality, reduced-cost treatment. Most teaching facilities have clinics, which allow students hands-on experience treating patients while providing care at a reduced cost. Your dental procedure or cleaning will be completed by a student who is supervised by an experienced, licensed dentist. Be sure to research the dental school that you choose for treatment, and check to see if they have accreditation and a good reputation.
Each state has a Donated Dental Services (DDS) program that’s organized through the state’s dental association, and some nonprofit organizations offer free or low-cost dental care. Each nonprofit uses grant money to provide dental care for seniors who cannot afford care. These clinics have their own criteria for who is eligible and which services are covered, but you’ll want to call ahead to see if you qualify.
If you’ve always been meticulous about your dental hygiene practices at home and only need to see a dentist for routine cleanings, then it could be more affordable to pay out of pocket for your visits. Because older adults are more likely to have tooth deterioration, few seniors will be able to get away with only twice-yearly cleanings. However, for those who can, an average tooth cleaning alone costs $127. X-rays bring the average up to $198. Some dentists offer introductory rates and coupons for first-time patients, so look for those deals as you shop for a cost-effective service.
If you’ve put off having your overbite treated due to sticker shock, it may surprise you to know that some treatments can be made affordable, though this depends on the severity. For a severe overbite, surgery may be your only option. It’s an expensive treatment for sure, but you can finance this to make costs more palatable. The next best options for moderate overbites are braces or Invisalign. Both are costly, but the Invisalign treatment shows results in about a year, while braces can take as many as three years. Again, you can finance these to keep payments low. Your final option would be an at-home alignment system, which is ideal for minor overbite correction. The costs for at-home aligners are significantly lower, and you can see results in as few as three months.
Dental Insurance Plan
You can opt to purchase a dental-only insurance plan, but you’ll have to pay a monthly premium like you would with any other healthcare plan. While the upfront monthly costs of the premium might seem high, those costs will be offset by lower out-of-pocket fees. The catch is that most of these plans require you to see in-network dentists who may offer lower rates than out-of-network options.
The bottom line with dental care is that it is vitally important to protecting your overall health, but it can be expensive. Fortunately, there are ways to access affordable services on a budget. While good oral hygiene will help your overall health, be sure to review your options when choosing a dentist that works for you and your family.
Ascension Health Homes is proud to offer experienced care in a compassionate and welcoming environment. We have living spaces in a residential environment to fit most budgets, and we offer an abundance of amenities and activities. To find out more, call (616) 259-0061.
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