Retirement Blog

Finance Blogs » Retirement » Do you have teeth in the budget?

Do you have teeth in the budget?

By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com
Sunday, November 3, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

How are your teeth? Are you missing a few here and there? Do you have dental insurance, and do you go to the dentist regularly?

If you are older than 65 and you have dental insurance, you're one of the lucky 2 percent, according to Oral Health America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving dental health.

Basic Medicare doesn't include dental care, although if you have purchased a Medicare Advantage program, it may include dental insurance. Medigap plans don't.

In about half the states, Medicaid doesn't even offer dental care for impoverished adults, which leaves lots of people unable to pay for dentures or implants. That is a big reason why about 25 percent of older adults suffer the problems associated with edentulism, or toothlessness. That's more than just an inconvenience. Oral Health America points out that if you can't chew, chances are you aren't eating a nutritious diet.

The Affordable Care Act also doesn't mandate dental care for adults, although in September a bill that would add dental care was introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate. Chances are it's not going anywhere anytime soon, so you're on your own to factor dental care into your retirement planning. Paying for a modest dental plan is probably the best route, but these plans can be pricey. If you're considering one, the American Dental Association suggests you ask these questions before you buy:

  • How much does the plan pay for fillings, root canals, oral surgery (such as extractions) and treatment of gum disease?
  • How much will it pay for major work, such as crowns, fixed bridges, implants or treatment for diseases of the jaw joint?
  • How far do you have to go to find a dentist who accepts the plan?
  • Is there a waiting period for certain care?
  • How does the plan treat referrals to specialists?

The bottom line: Make sure your retirement nest egg will stretch far enough to cover the nearly inevitable necessary dental work associated with aging.

If you can't afford to pay for dental care, check out ToothWisdom.org/care, which offers a state-by-state guide to low-cost/no-cost dental care at clinics and dental schools.

«
»
Bankrate wants to hear from you and encourages comments. We ask that you stay on topic, respect other people's opinions, and avoid profanity, offensive statements, and illegal content. Please keep in mind that we reserve the right to (but are not obligated to) edit or delete your comments. Please avoid posting private or confidential information, and also keep in mind that anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

By submitting a post, you agree to be bound by Bankrate's terms of use. Please refer to Bankrate's privacy policy for more information regarding Bankrate's privacy practices.
1 Comment
Add a comment

(Comments may take 5-10 minutes to appear)