Does Medicare Part B Cover Dental? An In-Depth Guide for Seniors

Written By: Nathan Justice
Reviewed By: William Rivers
Published: July 21, 2023
Last updated: October 22, 2023

As seniors age, dental care becomes increasingly crucial to overall health. One question that often arises is, "Does Medicare Part B cover dental?" Understanding Medicare's dental coverage can help seniors make informed decisions about their oral health.

What Does Medicare Part B Cover?

Medicare Part B, also known as Medical Insurance, is one of the four parts of the Medicare Program. It covers services and supplies that are necessary to diagnose or treat medical conditions and services or supplies to prevent illness (like a flu shot). It covers a variety of medical services such as lab tests, surgeries, doctor visits, and home health care.

Part B also covers some outpatient care, preventative services, medical equipment, and some physical and occupational therapy services. However, when it comes to dental coverage, the benefits under Part B are quite limited.

Does Medicare Part B Cover Dental?

To address the question, "Does Medicare Part B cover dental?" directly, the answer is generally no. Routine dental care, including cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, dentures, and dental plates, is not covered by Medicare Part B. This also extends to more comprehensive dental procedures like implants, orthodontics, and oral surgeries for tooth extractions.

However, there are certain exceptions. Medicare Part B might cover some dental services related to protecting general health, or a dental procedure required before certain vital surgeries.

For example, if an individual needs an oral examination before a kidney transplant or heart valve replacement, that could potentially be covered. Medicare Part B might also cover the treatment of diseases involving the jaw or any structure in the mouth that influences general health.

While these exceptions exist, they are rare and only cover specific situations. So, it's clear that in most cases, the answer to "Does Medicare Part B cover dental?" is no.

Medicare Advantage and Dental Coverage

For seniors looking for more comprehensive dental coverage, Medicare Advantage (Part C) might be a viable alternative. Unlike Original Medicare (Parts A and B), which offers limited dental coverage, some Medicare Advantage plans include routine dental care.

Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare. These plans must cover all services that Original Medicare covers, excluding hospice care, which is still covered by Medicare Part A. Many Medicare Advantage plans also offer additional benefits such as dental, vision, and hearing care.

Therefore, seniors wondering, "Does Medicare Part B cover dental?" might find better answers with Medicare Advantage plans. However, the coverage details can vary significantly among plans, so it's crucial to read the benefits carefully before enrolling.

Alternative Options for Dental Coverage

Even though the answer to "Does Medicare Part B cover dental?" is largely no, seniors have other options for dental coverage. These alternatives include Medicaid (for low-income individuals), dental insurance from private insurance companies, dental discount plans, and treatment at dental schools, which often comes at a reduced cost.


For low-income seniors, Medicaid can serve as an option for dental coverage. Medicaid is a state and federal program that provides health coverage for some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. The extent of dental coverage under Medicaid can vary significantly from state to state. In some states, Medicaid covers comprehensive dental care while in others, the coverage is limited to emergency dental services only. Therefore, if you are considering Medicaid for dental coverage, it's important to research and understand the specific dental benefits your state's Medicaid program provides.

Private Dental Insurance

Another option for seniors is to purchase private dental insurance. Many private insurance companies offer dental insurance plans that cover a portion of the cost of dental care, from routine checkups and cleanings to more complex procedures such as root canals or dental implants. It's important to note that these insurance plans often come with a waiting period before you can use the benefits for certain procedures, and they may also have an annual maximum limit on coverage. Additionally, the cost of premiums, deductibles, and co-pays should be considered when evaluating the overall cost and benefit of these plans.

Dental Discount Plans

Dental discount plans, also known as dental savings plans, are not insurance but rather a membership program where you pay an annual fee to access discounted dental services. These discounts can range from 10% to 60% off the dentist's normal charges, depending on the procedure. Dental discount plans can be an affordable alternative to dental insurance, especially for seniors who only require basic dental care. Keep in mind that dental discount plans require you to use dentists within their network to receive the discounted rates.

Dental Schools

Seniors might also consider seeking treatment at dental schools. Many dental schools offer dental services at significantly reduced costs performed by dental students, who are closely supervised by experienced faculty members. This can be a great option for seniors on a tight budget. However, it's important to note that dental schools might not offer the same level of comfort or scheduling flexibility as a private dental practice. Additionally, procedures at dental schools can take longer since they are part of an educational program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Medicare Part B cover dental?

Generally, no. Medicare Part B does not cover routine dental care such as cleanings, fillings, extractions, dentures, and dental plates.

What dental services does Medicare Part B cover?

Medicare Part B covers some dental services that are necessary for protecting general health or that are required before certain surgeries. Examples include an oral examination before a kidney transplant or heart valve replacement.

Can Medicare Advantage plans offer dental coverage?

Yes. Some Medicare Advantage plans offer coverage for routine dental care, but this can vary significantly among plans.

What alternatives are there to Medicare for dental coverage?

Alternatives include Medicaid (for qualifying individuals), dental insurance from private insurers, dental discount plans, and treatment at dental schools for reduced cost.

How can I find out if my dental service will be covered by Medicare Part B?

You can contact Medicare directly or speak with your healthcare provider to determine if a specific dental service will be covered under Medicare Part B.

While the question "Does Medicare Part B cover dental?" may disappoint some seniors due to limited coverage, it's important to remember that alternatives are available. Understanding the nuances of these alternatives can ensure seniors receive the dental care they need without undue financial burden.

Dental savings plans and dental insurance have their fair share of benefits, so choose the option that suits your needs best.

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Nathan Justice manages community outreach programs and forums that help many senior citizens. He completed a counseling program at the University of Maryland’s Department of Psychology.
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