If you’re on Medicare or turning sixty-five soon, you may be wondering if it covers dental services. Dental care is crucial to overall health, but unfortunately, it can be costly. In 2023, the average cost of a simple cleaning is between $75 to $200! Coverage can certainly make dental care more affordable. But does Medicare cover dental services? Here’s what you need to know.
The short answer is that Medicare’s coverage for dental services is limited. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Medicare will pay for certain dental services if they are clinically necessary. Original Medicare (Parts A and B) doesn’t cover most dental care services. This includes routine checkups, cleanings, fillings, dentures, tooth extractions, and most other dental procedures. However, there are a few limited exceptions to this rule.
Unfortunately, there are no specific Medicare dental plans to purchase. While some may find this surprising, about half of Medicare beneficiaries do not have dental coverage. As previously stated, coverage under Medicare is usually limited to specific medically related circumstances. However, if f you need dental care, you have a few options:
|Type of dental care||Original Medicare coverage||Medicare Supplement plan coverage||Stand-alone dental insurance plan coverage|
|Routine checkups and cleanings||No||May vary depending on the plan||Yes|
|Fillings||No||May vary depending on the plan||Yes|
|Dentures||No||May vary depending on the plan||Yes|
|Tooth extractions||No||May vary depending on the plan||Yes|
|Other dental procedures||May be covered if closely related to another covered medical service or necessary to protect your overall health||May be covered depending on the plan||Yes|
Dental care is a key component of preventative care. Maintaining your oral health can contribute to your overall health and well-being! In fact, our oral health is tied to so many simple human experiences—smiling, speaking, and expressing ourselves. Without proper oral hygiene, you run the risk of developing serious oral infections and even diseases. Some of the most common oral diseases include:
While preventative dental care is important, there are other ways you can protect your smile! Here are ten tips for healthy teeth and gums.
Did you know that over 16 million Americans live every day with a disease caused by smoking? Additionally, excessive alcohol use can also lead to chronic disease and serious health problems. Of course, our teeth are not immune to the effects of alcohol and tobacco. Not only does smoking stain your teeth, but it also weakens the gums and puts you at greater risk for oral cancer. Plus, it gives you bad breath. Not to be outdone, alcohol is high in sugar and can damage your enamel. Sadly, oral cancers are six times more common in drinkers than in non-drinkers.
The American Dental Association recommends that you brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for at least twice minutes per session. The importance of brushing our teeth cannot be overstated! This practice helps to remove plaque, which is a sticky white film full of bacteria. Within this bacteria is an acid that attacks our enamel and, over time, even breaks it down. According to Mayo Clinic, you shouldn’t brush your teeth immediately after eating or drinking. Instead, wait an hour to brush. Make sure you’re doing that at least twice a day! Also, be mindful that you’re not using too much pressure when you brush. Be kind to your gums!
Ahh, flossing. The often overlooked cousin of brushing. However, flossing is equally important. You might even say it’s the sidekick of brushing. Dental floss is designed to reach all those nooks and crannies where plaque loves to hide out. If you let plaque rent space in your mouth, it can lead to cavities and even more serious oral conditions. So, make sure you’re flossing your teeth every day. It’s an important tool in your fight to keep your teeth and gums healthy and happy!
If you’re a candy lover or soda addict, I’ve got bad news for you. Sugar puts you at an increased risk for cavities. Unfortunately, it’s found in a lot of the tastiest foods we all love. While it’s okay to enjoy candy and other sweets in moderation, limit your consumption of those things. Your stomach might not be too happy, but your teeth will thank you!
Water is great for our overall health and well-being, and that applies to our oral health! Not only does water freshen our breath, but it also prevents dry mouth and rinses away food particles. Additionally, it helps with saliva production. So, if you want to avoid making an emergency trip to the dentist, start drinking more water. Try drinking a big glass first thing in the morning and make sure you’re sipping water throughout the day. This will boost your mood and make you healthier and happier!
Eating a healthy diet is important for your waistline and heart health, but it can also keep your gums and teeth nice and healthy, too. Fruits and vegetables are great for your teeth, keeping them fresh and clean. Meanwhile, dairy products, like cheese, milk, and yogurt, can actually fortify your enamel! Green and black teas also can keep plaque at bay. If you need some healthy eating tips, click HERE for further information.
Preventative care is often the best care! Make sure you schedule regular dentist appointments and exams. Have six-month teeth cleanings. If you notice inflammation or soreness in your mouth, don’t try out home remedies. Have a dentist take a look and figure out a solution. Don’t ever take your dental health lightly!
It’s important to replace your toothbrush every three to four months. Frayed or worn-out bristles simply cannot remove plaque effectively, meaning that you might still have some nasty bacteria in your teeth. Alternatively, you can consider using an electric toothbrush with replacement heads. Whatever the case, make sure your toothbrush is in top form so your teeth will be!
We’ve all gargled with mouthwash before trying to make a good impression on someone. However, regularly using mouthwash can kill the bacteria that cause cavities. Dentists recommend using mouthwash for thirty seconds to a minute for the most effective deep cleaning. However, it’s important to note that when it comes to mouthwash, too much of a good thing is a bad thing. You shouldn’t use mouthwash more than once a day and should discontinue use if you notice any sores or inflammation.
If you brush your teeth but neglect your tongue, you may be letting plaque languish in your mouth! Of course, this can lead to both bad breath and oral diseases. Make sure that every time you pick up a toothbrush, you take a little time to clean your tongue. Gently scrape the bristles along your tongue and banish all that plaque. Not only will you have even better breath, but you’ll also have even healthier teeth and gums!
While Medicare provides a wide range of health coverage, coverage is limited when it comes to dental care. Understanding your options and the extent of Medicare’s coverage can help you make informed decisions about your dental care and overall health.
If you’re still looking for more Medicare articles, check out these next:
Originally published November 27, 2023