Given how important oral health is to overall health, it’s surprising that it isn’t covered by standard insurance. According to a report done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most seniors don’t have dental insurance. People who are over seventy-five, Black, Hispanic, or living below the poverty level are even more unlikely to have coverage.
Oral Health is Left Behind for Most Seniors
Dental benefits aren’t covered by Medicare, which is the federal insurance for seniors. Dental coverage through Medicaid, the insurance for those with limited income, varies by state. Many states only offer emergency services, and four states don’t offer it at all.
So the options for seniors are buying the dental insurance themselves or get it as a part of retirement benefits from their employer.
This is a problem because all older adults, even those with dentures, need a yearly dental checkup. With Baby Boomers reaching retirement age, this will be the problem that affects most families, especially because older people have more oral issues than younger people.
They can have multiple illnesses and take medication for it. The medication can have side effects like dry mouth, inflammation, infections, and mouth sores. Once their oral health starts to slide, everything else will follow.
Even if someone no longer has their teeth, they still need to be checked for oral cancer and have a soft and hard tissue exam. Dentures don’t last forever and will eventually breakdown. Dentures that don’t fit right can lead to poor chewing, inadequate nutrition, speech problems, and more.
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