Taking good care of your overall health and your teeth will help them to last throughout your life. In addition to eating healthily, flossing, and brushing, this includes making regular dental visits. This is important at any age, but for older adults, here’s why it’s especially important.
What kinds of issues can affect the dental health of older adults?
As we age, our bodies—including our mouths—undergo changes. Inside the teeth, nerves can shrink and become less sensitive to cavities or other dental issues. Other conditions such as arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, or heart disease may cause or result from gum disease. Older adults may also be prone to dry mouth (xerostomia), which can be an unpleasant side effect of illness or medications. In addition, poor nutrition can result from a diminishing sense of taste that some older adults experience; and can also result from tooth loss, which can affect chewing ability. And older adults may experience issues with mobility or dexterity, which can make it difficult to properly clean their teeth.
[See our related blog post titled Dentistry for Senior Patients: What Should You Know?]
Do dental issues in older adults only affect physical health?
While many dental issues that seniors experience are related to other physical issues, some of the newest research on this topic also shows that older adults with both diabetes and tooth loss may experience faster cognitive decline, particularly after age 65. It is believed that some of the conditions that characterize diabetes—including high blood sugar, inflammation, insulin resistance, and related heart disease—may contribute to changes in the brain.
Is it important to replace lost teeth?
Replacing lost teeth is crucial for good health, explains Dr. Gio:
- It helps keep teeth from shifting in your mouth; shifting teeth are more prone to tooth loss
- It helps you to have healthy, pain-free jaws that open and close as they should
- It helps with chewing ability so you can eat a healthy variety of foods, not only soft foods
Maintaining the ability to chew and eat nutritious, fresh foods can help older adults sustain healthy blood sugar levels, which will contribute to better overall health.
What should older adults on fixed incomes know about insurance for dental care?
Of course, for many older people, maintaining proper dental care is much easier with some kind of coverage. Most people become eligible for Medicare health coverage at age 65, but the basic Medicare plan does not include dental care. Medicare Advantage plans (also known as “Part C”) may offer dental coverage (though not all plans are the same) and can be purchased separately from private insurers approved by Medicare.
Unfortunately, many of those with basic Medicare plans still lack dental coverage due to cost concerns. Legislative efforts to expand basic Medicare to include dental coverage are ongoing.However, half of the seniors in the US do not have dental coverage, and almost half of the nation’s older adults did not receive any dental care in 2018. In a recent study, researchers identified an increase in tooth loss in approximately 5% of those past the age of 65.
Do older adults have other options for dental coverage?
Fortunately, there are other options that can help seniors maintain their dental care, including senior discounts and cash payment incentives, in-house membership plans, and receiving treatment at a dental school or dental hygiene school. This article provides details.
Does Winchester Dental offer an in-house plan?
At Winchester Dental, we are pleased to offer the Smile Care Club in-house plan. Anyone without dental insurance may purchase this plan. There are no deductibles, health questions, or individual rate increases, and no one will be denied coverage.
Smile Care Club coverage includes:
- Routine dental examinations (every six months at the time of teeth cleaning)
- X-rays (one set every 12 months)
- Teeth cleaning for adults and children (every six months)
- Fluoride treatments for children (every six months)
- One emergency examination per year, if needed
- Cosmetic consultation
In addition, this coverage provides discounts on:
- Cosmetic whitening treatments
- Orthodontics (traditional braces and clear aligners)
- Restorative dentistry (fillings, crowns, root canals, and dentures)
More details on all our payment options are available here. It’s our privilege to help our senior patients achieve and stay in good dental health—and good overall health!
Is it time for your next appointment? Contact us today!