Maintaining good dental health is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. As you age, the costs of dental work can rise significantly. Overlooking dental visits because of the cost can lead to a worsening situation for both your teeth and your overall health. In fact, over 53 percent of seniors have periodontal disease which comes with many negative symptoms.¹ Fortunately, dental insurance is an affordable solution to help keep your teeth in order without breaking the bank.
The Importance Of Dental Care As You Age
The dental problems that tend to occur as you get older can start to really weigh on your wallet. Nearly one in five seniors in America have lost all their teeth. A shocking 68 percent of American seniors also suffer from some form of gum disease, showing just how many decide to skip out on the dentist.² Painful eating, decaying teeth and related conditions like heart disease and diabetes show just how important it is to care for your dental health.
The Dental Care Gap
Unfortunately, regular Medicare does not cover most dental work including fillings, cleanings and procedures like root canals.³ In fact, Medicare only pays for dental work if it is needed for a jaw problem or procedure, a potentially fatal hospitalization or a surgery that legally requires a dental exam first. These are all situations you don’t want to be in and which you certainly can’t depend on.
Although some Medicare Advantage plans cover some parts of dental care, your best option for reducing the cost of dental visits, surgeries and basic procedures is to look into dental insurance.⁴
Dental Insurance Explained
There are various coverage levels of dental insurance. Coverage can include large portions of routine dental care and emergencies. The lower the premium the less coverage you will receive. The average dental insurance plan will cover around half of the costs of elementary dental needs like fillings and cleanings and about one-fifth of the cost of more complex procedures, although for higher premiums you can obtain a higher level of coverage.⁵ Dental insurance can be a savvy decision when it comes to saving money on your teeth and covering those dental needs that always end up coming up.
The Three Main Kinds Of Dental Insurance
There are three main types of dental insurance: joining a Dental Health Maintenance Organization (DHMO), a Dental Preferred Provider Organization (DPPO) or regular Indemnity Dental Insurance.
DHMOs are basically structured like an HMO where you can access a large network of dentists for a reasonably-priced premium per month. There’s no wait time, no deductibles and are these plans are especially well suited for basic care. More advanced treatments generally have a co-pay.
A DPPO is like a medical PPO for chosen providers and usually work on a plan where all basic services like cleaning and checkups are covered, 80 percent of basic treatments like fillings are covered and more advanced procedures like root canals and crowns are half covered. One drawback of PPOs is that they can have wait times to join and usually require paying a deductible. They also tend to have higher out of pocket costs than DHMOs.⁶
As for Indemnity insurance, this is basically your standard insurance set up. These plans tend to have higher out of pocket costs than the others. Their main benefit is that they allow you to visit any dentist. They usually require an up-front fee and have maximum annual benefits of around $2,000.⁷
Finding Reasonably Priced Dental Insurance
The average annual cost of individual dental insurance ranges from around $48 to $180 depending on the level of coverage.⁷ There are also family plans available that result in a discount when you break down the price per person. Other options for dental coverage include Medigap, Medicare Advantage and other dental discount plans. If you are interested in learning more about specific dental insurance plans, an online search will go a long way in allowing you to review and compare the different options and pricing levels.