As you age, health becomes a greater priority, which equates to greater expenses. With every passing year it becomes more difficult to excuse poor diet or ignore aching joints. However, working within a limited budget can impede on good, healthy intentions. When it comes to maintaining oral health, seniors are faced with a unique set of issues due to age, income, and care options. In fact, many seniors may feel maintaining dental health at an affordable cost is not a viable option. Can you relate to the following senior dental concerns?
Common dental problems for seniors
Seniors are more commonly affected by certain dental issues compared to the rest of the population. One study found that nearly a quarter of people over the age of 65 have gum disease, and 30 percent have untreated cavities. The increased prevalence of dental issues among seniors is not always a result of poor care or negligence, but actually symptoms of other aging factors.
Maintaining dental care while also addressing other health issues can be a double-edged sword, because in many cases, medications lead to oral health issues. A major contributor to dental degradation among seniors is “dry mouth”, which is listed as a side effect for hundreds of different medications for afflictions that are common among seniors like asthma, high blood pressure, and Alzheimer’s Disease. Dry mouth is a major contributor to dental issues such as:
- Gum disease
- Mouth cancer
Due to complications brought on by dry mouth, it is especially important for seniors to schedule regular checkups, and keep dentists informed about medications. Easy remedies for dry mouth that a dentist might recommend include over-the-counter moisturizers, a humidifier, and increasing daily water intake.
Money and lifestyle get in the way of dental health
"A major contributor to dental degradation among seniors is “dry mouth”, which is listed as a side effect for hundreds of different medications for afflictions that are common among seniors like asthma, high blood pressure, and Alzheimer’s Disease."
Seniors are not only susceptible to dental issues due to aging, but also because of certain lifestyle restrictions. In many cases, retired individuals face several financial and practical impediments when it comes to dental care. For example:
- Prioritizing oral health in a senior living facility or without readily available transportation (nearly 30 percent of seniors have a hard time finding transportation to the dentist)
- Daily care in the event of physical disability
- Finding affordable dental coverage after retirement
Medicare doesn’t cover basic routine dental work, so the cost of preventative care and expensive procedures usually has to come out of pocket for seniors. As a result, many older Americans forgo regular dental checkups, and maintaining dental care falls by the wayside leading to serious issues. For seniors stuck in this rut, and forced to lapse on dental care in the interest of saving money, there are alternatives.
How seniors save on dental care
Without the safety net of employer-sponsored insurance, seniors may believe they are left to front the cost of dental care. In reality, there are many programs in place to help this growing group of aging Americans offset costs.
AARP offers a dental insurance plan for members that can make regular visits, cleanings, and x-rays more affordable. This is a great solution for seniors, but coverage could be quickly exhausted by some of the dental issues listed above. These plans are generally capped at $1,500 a year, so seniors with ongoing oral health issues may not receive the coverage they need.
Dental discount programs are a great alternative to traditional dental coverage, offering significant discounts off of expensive procedures like root canals, tooth removal, and gum surgery, as well as general cleanings and exams. On average, members save between 20 percent and 50 percent on dental procedures and pay a very low monthly fee. This option is perfectly tailored for seniors that want to maintain oral health, but have limited income and need ways to save on dental care.
Contact Dental Solutions to learn more about how to once again prioritize dental health as a senior without breaking the bank.