A recent Washington Post article spelled out the problem; as Americans age, they have trouble receiving routine preventative dental care. That’s in part because Medicare currently does not cover routine exams or preventative. This means for a lot of U.S. citizens, they will not receive regular check-ups from their dentist during a time when they need it the most.
If you’re an older adult, chances are you’re worried about how your dental care will be covered after age 65. This article suggests a few tips that may help.
Poll Shows Lack of Insurance
The University of Michigan conducted a nationwide poll of older adults and their attitudes toward medical care. The National Poll on Healthy Aging (NPHA) found that 51% of adults aged 50 to 64 do not know how they will get dental insurance after age 65.
The survey followed more than 1,000 middle-aged Americans also suggested 41% felt their oral health was excellent or even good. More than one-quarter of those surveyed said they had skipped dental care in the last couple of years. They cited the cost of treatment as the problem.
Preventative care is the primary driver of good oral hygiene. As people age, they are naturally more prone to gum or periodontal disease. How can adults continue to maintain their oral health even if they find themselves without dental insurance?
Top Tips for Good Oral Hygiene – No Matter Your Age
If preventative maintenance and checkups are the number one thing you can do to maintain your teeth and gums, then practicing good oral hygiene follows as a close second. This includes:
- Brushing your teeth twice per day with good fluoride toothpaste. If your teeth and gums start to become sensitive with age, switch to Sensodyne or some other toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
- Flossing at least once per day will remove food particles that are caught between the teeth that can cause decay.
- Skipping sugary drinks or foods. Stick with lots and lots of water.
- Saliva is a great natural way to wash debris off your teeth. If you’re on medications they can inhibit saliva production. Try to stimulate saliva by chewing sugar-free gum. Your doctor can tell you if your medications are contributing to dry mouth.
- Get your mouth examined a minimum of once per year. Your doctor will be able to catch decay or spot clinical signs of pre-cancerous conditions. Do not skip your annual exam; it is crucial to maintaining oral health.
Make sure you check in with your employer if you are still working. Dental insurance is typically very cost-effective in employer-sponsored plans. Even some retirement health plans through AARP or other organizations may help. Also, check out the open market to see if you can pick up coverage at a reasonable rate.
Finally, there are dental savings plans and DHMOs (Dental Health Maintenance Organizations). A DHMO requires an upfront annual fee that covers routine checkups and cleanings, along with discounts on more advanced work.
Call Dr. Hadley and his team for more tips on how to continue your routine dental care as you age. We’re here for you through all the stages of your life.