What Dental Care Options Are Available for Low Income Seniors?

Dentist Working With EquipmentNeglecting your oral health can have serious consequences. For seniors living on a tight budget, affordable dental care may seem out of reach. But there may be affordable options available to you.

If you’re having dental problems now, schedule an exam with your dentist that includes a cleaning and X-rays. As part of the exam, you can request a written treatment plan from your dentist that includes the cost of your treatment and available treatment options to get you healthy.

Even if you’re not having trouble, annual exams, cleanings, and X-rays can save you money, as they help identify problems before they become more complicated – and more expensive – to treat.

Low-Cost Care Options

If high costs are an obstacle to getting treatment for a dental issue, you still have options available to you.

  • Consider alternative treatments and financing. For many issues, there are multiple treatment options. Ask your dentist about these options. Many dentists offer payment plans and reduced prices based on need.
  • Look up your county’s public health department. Many counties have dental clinics that provide adult care at reduced cost.
  • Visit a community clinic. Many communities offer local programs with free or reduced cost dental care. Contact your Social Services office for more information. You may also contact the United Way by dialing 211 or by visiting the United Way website .
  • Visit a dental school. Many dental schools often offer excellent care at a low cost, if there’s one in your area. Be prepared for longer appointments and know that it may take multiple visits to have the work completed. Use our Find Care tool and check the box next to “Dental School” to find an option near you. You can also search for dental hygiene schools that offer X-rays and cleanings.
  • Find out if you’re eligible to receive donated dental services. This national program of volunteer dentists helps treat needy patients, but availability is limited. You’ll also need to meet specific requirements. Visit the Dental Lifeline Network to learn more.
  • Take advantage of Veteran’s benefits. If you are a Veteran, you may be eligible for dental benefits provided through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). View our article for more information.
  • Consider dental services as an incurred medical expense. If you or a loved one are living in a nursing home, it may be possible to include dental care as an incurred medical expense, which may make payment easier.

About Medicare & Dental Coverage

Did you know that Medicare does not cover non-emergency dental care? This means that most seniors must rely on either Medicare Advantage plans or private insurance to get coverage.

Having dental coverage isn’t the best option for everyone. If you’re considering private insurance, research the available discounted and Medicare Dental Advantage plans in your area to see if they are affordable. Look closely – many plans won’t cover enough treatment to justify what you pay in yearly premiums. These plans may also require waiting periods before you can receive any coverage.

Also know that the plan may limit your choice of dentists. When shopping for insurance, talk to your dentist’s office about what plans they accept so you won’t be surprised.

About the Author

Linda Leslie, RDH
American Dental Hygienists' Association, Special Care Dentistry Association, Greater Orlando Dental Assistant School - Program Director

The information on this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Tooth Wisdom® and Oral Health America do not recommend or endorse any specific dentists, products, procedures, opinions, or other information mentioned. See full Terms & Conditions.

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