A report in the Chicago Tribune states that many senior citizens today in the US lack dental coverage since Medicare generally doesn’t cover dental care and private dental insurance can be both hard to find and expensive. Many senior citizens are forgoing care until their dental health has deteriorated, and this only makes problems worse – leading to possible infections, trouble with eating, trouble with speaking and pain. This also has the affect of leading to additional health problems and making existing health problems worse. While State and Federal Government legislators are debating and trying to come up with solutions for the lack of coverage for seniors, there are things that can be done.
If you have a senior parent, family member or friend you would be providing them a service by discussing their dental health and needs. Acknowledging a potential issue is always the first step in trying to find solutions. Routine exam and cleaning visits – preferably twice annually – are affordable for most people and go a long way in both keeping problems at bay and in helping to clearly define issues. Seniors should ask dentists for a senior discount – the worst that can happen is that they will say no – but this has not been my experience as a provider. Dental schools, hygiene schools and teaching hospitals often have lower cost programs available to the general public, although wait times and treatment times may be longer.
At my practice - Bay Dental Health - we provide both a senior courtesy which discounts fees, and also provide an In-House Dental Program where participants pay a low annual fee and in return receive all treatment at significantly lower costs. The bottom line is that avoiding care has its consequences – especially for seniors.