The older Americans who have the worst oral health are typically individuals who are less fortunate financially, don't have insurance, and belong to racial or ethnic minorities. Poor dental health is also more likely in people who are institutionalized, homebound or incapacitated (such as elderly people who reside in nursing homes).
The Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics predicts that by 2030, 72 million adults in the United States will be 65 or older, or nearly 20% of the country's overall population.
What Are Common Oral Health Problems Among Seniors?
Poor oral health in older folks typically comes from the build-up of plaque and tartar in teeth over time. This can lead to gum disease and tooth decay, among other issues. Here are some of the common dental health issues that seniors could develop over time:
- Gum disease: A substantial percentage of older persons suffer from gum disease. About 2 in 3 (68%) adults aged 65 years or older have gum disease.
- Oral cancer: Cancers of the mouth (oral and pharyngeal cancers) are primarily diagnosed in elderly persons; the median age at diagnosis is 62 years.
- Untreated tooth decay: Nearly all adults (96%) aged 65 years or older have had a cavity; 1 in 5 have untreated tooth decay.
- Chronic Disease: Although persons with chronic disorders such arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be more likely to develop gum (periodontal) disease than adults without these conditions, they are also less likely to receive dental care.
Types Of Dental Services Available To Seniors
There are multiple dental service providers for older folks and seniors who don't have a dental care plan or regular dentist. Here are some offered across multiple states:
- Medicare: This health insurance policy is available to those who are 65 years of age or older, as well as those who have certain disabilities. The majority of routine dental care and dentures are not covered by the restricted Medicare dental coverage.
- Medicaid: This state-run program offers qualified people and families medical benefits and, in some situations, dental coverage. Who is eligible and what services are covered are subject to the rules that each state establishes. For those over the age of 21, the majority of states offer only a few emergency dental services, although a few states offer complete care.
- Toothwisdom.org: This website is devoted to providing older folks with health resources. In addition to the helpful articles on the website, you can use the care locator tool to identify places in your neighborhood that offer affordable dental care. a website with resources for senior citizens' health. In addition to the helpful articles on the website, you can use the care locator tool to identify places in your neighborhood that offer affordable dental care.
- Oral Health America (OHA): This website is devoted to providing older folks with health resources. In addition to the helpful articles on the website, you can use the care locator tool to identify places in your neighborhood that offer affordable dental care.
- Program of All-Inclusive Care (PACE): This is a Medicare and Medicaid program called PACE that assists people in meeting their health care needs in the community. Dental care is one aspect of this healthcare service. You must be at least 55 years old, a resident in the area where the services are provided, and deemed qualified for nursing home care in order to use PACE.
- Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA): This promotes health clinics supported by the federal government for people with no insurance or low income. Many accept payments on a sliding scale (depending on your ability to pay).
- The Dental Life Network: Access to comprehensive dental services for those with impairments, the elderly, or those who are medically at risk" is made possible by this. Donated Dental Services, or DDS, is its flagship program. Its nationwide network of 17,000 volunteer dentists and 3,700 dental laboratories together provide free dental care.
- Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP): Children who qualify for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) can receive medical care through Medicaid and other independent CHIP programs.
- Community Dental Events: Often offered through a first-come, first-serve basis with a maximum number of people, you may be able to get free dental care from these events. In some cases, you may even get free learning materials and supplies.
- Dental Schools: Dentists-in-training need to complete certain requirements to gain their degrees, so you may be able to get x-rays, fillings, and cleanings done for free.
- Dental Lifeline Network: Dental Lifeline Network is a nonprofit organization that has comprehensive dental services for those in need. It is great for older adults and is also free of charge.
- Veteran Affairs Dental Insurance Program: Veterans may be able to qualify for dental benefits from local VA clinics or from the US Department of Veteran Affairs. Sometimes, you may even be able to receive full coverage.
- Dentistry From The Heart: This nonprofit organization offers free dental care to low-income individuals and those in need. They usually have sponsored events where you can do these services.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are commonly asked questions regarding free dental care for seniors:
1. Which state offers the most affordable dental care?
Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas have the lowest dental care prices. Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont have the highest dental treatment expenses.
2. Does Medicare pay for tooth extraction?
Medicare does not cover most dental care (including procedures and supplies like cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, dentures, dental plates, or other dental devices). Part A includes coverage for some home health care as well as inpatient hospital stays, care in skilled nursing facilities, and hospice care.
3. What is the cheapest way to replace all your teeth?
Dentures are the cheapest way to replace your teeth. Dentures are the tooth replacement option that costs the least. This is so because they are the easiest to produce. There is no need for surgery or dental crown placement.
4. Is oral surgery covered by Medicaid?
An oral and maxillofacial surgeon treats injuries and disorders involving the mouth, teeth, jaws, face, head, and neck. Medicaid's health insurance component will pay for oral surgery when it is medically required.
5. Is there free dental care for seniors?
The Health Resources and Services Administration's (1-888-Ask-HRSA) Bureau of Primary Health Care supports federally-funded community health centers across the nation that offer free or reduced-cost medical services, including dental care.
Get Access To Free Dental Care
Finding the right dental care provider or dental professional can be tricky, so ensuring you get access to free dental care could make a difference. Check out our resources at Senior Strong today to learn about the best dental and vision insurance plans for seniors or even the best dental plans that could suit your older loved ones.
Charlotte Senger is a senior discount expert who handles all financial concerns and ensures that seniors are able to save money. She got her bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Texas.