Oral health is a huge issue for senior citizens in the U.S.
Research shows that a whopping 96 percent of adults over the age of 65 have at least one cavity. Approximately 68 percent also have gum disease.
There are lots of reasons why seniors are struggling so much with oral health. A common complaint, though, is that they can’t afford regular dental care.
If you’re in this boat, or if you have an elderly loved one who is, keep reading.
Listed below are seven low-cost dental care options seniors may want to take advantage of, especially if they’re short on cash.
Why Dental Care Matters for Seniors
Proper dental care matters for people of all ages. Seniors, however, need to be extra vigilant about caring for their teeth as they’re more prone to oral health issues than other populations. There are lots of reasons for this, including the following:
- Health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes can make dental problems worse
- Prescription drugs can cause dry mouth and other symptoms that contribute to cavities or oral infections
- Physical and sensory issues may make it harder for seniors to brush and floss their teeth well
Because of these issues, it’s imperative that seniors prioritize their oral health care. Otherwise, they could end up dealing with severe infections and even tooth loss — not to mention outlandish dental bills.
How Seniors Can Save on Dental Care
Clearly, seniors need to make proper dental care a priority. It’s easy to justify not visiting the dentist, though, if you think you don’t have the money for it.
Listed below are seven ways that seniors can save money on dental care while still getting the treatment they need:
1. Cash Discounts
Many dental offices are willing to give patients a discount if they pay for their treatment upfront in cash. Sometimes, they may also give discounts to patients who do not have dental insurance if they acknowledge the fact that they’re uninsured.
It’s always worth asking for these discounts, even if it’s uncomfortable to acknowledge a lack of funds. Most dental offices have policies in place to help those in need. If they don’t know that you are in need, though, they likely won’t offer them to you.
2. Community Clinics
There are many community dental clinics designed to help those who do not have dental insurance or can’t afford to visit a private clinic.
At these clinics, you’ll be able to get low-cost or even free cleanings and treatments from trained professionals.
Some people are hesitant about visiting community clinics, but they’re a viable option and, in most cases, they provide high-quality care at a very low cost to you. Don’t discredit them before you’ve done your homework.
3. Dental Schools
Another option is to visit a local dental school. If you go to a dental school, you can receive low-cost or free care from a dental student (supervised by a licensed dentist, of course).
Visiting dental schools is a good option if you need basic care. If you’re dealing with a serious issue, though, it might not be the best fit for you. In fact, they’ll likely refer you to another dentist instead of letting a student work on you.
4. Veteran’s Benefits
If you’re a veteran, there’s a good chance you’re eligible for dental benefits through the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
You may want to reach out to them and find out whether or not you’re eligible so you can start receiving the dental care you need at a more affordable price.
5. Dental Savings Plans
Consider setting up a dental savings plan, too.
Dental savings plans offer seniors (and others) an affordable alternative to dental insurance. With these plans, you pay a flat annual fee. This gives you access to a network of dentists in your area who offer discounts to plan members.
There aren’t any spending limits, and you pay your discounted fee at the time of treatment. There’s no need to wait around for reimbursements.
These plans, in most cases, activate very quickly, too, so you can start utilizing them right away.
6. Charitable Foundations
Some charitable foundations, such as the Dental Lifeline Network, are set up to help seniors who are struggling to pay for dental care.
They may provide free or discounted cleanings and dental treatments, or they may offer stipends to help seniors pay for their care.
Many people are unaware that these organizations exist, but they do great work for those in need.
7. Payment Plans
If you’re dealing with an expensive dental issue, such as a root canal or a repair after a dental implant breaks, you may not be able to pay your bill in full.
If this is the case for you, talk to your dentist’s office administrator or billing director about setting up a payment plan.
They will likely be willing to work with you to come up with a plan that works for your budget and gets them the money they’re owed in a timely manner.
Try These Low-Cost Dental Care Options Today
If you’re a senior who has been putting off dental care, or if you have an elderly loved one who’s been doing so, keep these tips in mind.
There are lots of low-cost dental care options out there designed to help seniors save money while still getting access to quality dental treatment.
Do you want to learn more about proper healthcare for seniors and folks of all ages? If so, check out the Health section of our site today.