Planning for Dental Care After Retirement
Created: Apr 20, 2015
There is a lot to think about when it comes to retirement. You need to consider everything from how much money you need saved in order to maintain your current lifestyle, to which state is the most retiree-friendly. While many people plan for things like money, healthcare expenses and relocation, not many plan for DENTAL care. Unfortunately, dental care is not covered by Medicare or regular health insurance, but it is much needed as you age.
Some Fast Facts to Consider:
· 50% of seniors have not visited a dentist in the past year. Over 30% have untreated dental cavities.
· Medicare and supplemental health insurance do not cover dental care. Open market dental insurance generally has low annual limits and copays that may not come close to covering the typical dental work received by a retiree, such as crowns and implants.
· Approximately 25% of Americans aged 60+ do not have any remaining natural teeth.
· About 23% of individuals 65+ have severe periodontal disease, the leading cause of tooth and bone loss.
· Oral and pharyngeal cancers are primarily diagnosed in the elderly.
· Over 400 of the most commonly used over-the-counter medications are the leading cause of dry mouth, which decreases saliva flow and increases the risk for oral disease. About 5% of the elderly population takes at least 8 of these medications each day.
With these stats in mind, we feel confident saying that oral care should become even more of a priority for you in retirement, because many oral health issues tend to become a greater problem as we age.
But what can you do if you can’t afford a hefty amount of dental care in retirement?
For Starters, You Can Practice Prevention.
Tooth loss is the most expensive dental condition to correct, so if you’re worried about keeping dental costs under wraps in retirement, the best thing you can do for yourself and your wallet is to keep an eye out for and prevent periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, but there is good news: it’s preventable – and even reversible – in its early stages. Unfortunately, periodontal disease often goes undetected in the early stages, progressing slowly and painlessly over time. While caused by poor oral hygiene habits, periodontal disease is worsened by diabetes, a growing problem among older adults. The two diseases feed off each other, making it hard for many individuals to control either of the conditions.
Fortunately, careful oral hygiene habits and regular dental visits can help nip periodontal disease in the bud, or at least get it under control. Your dentist can also work with you if you have diabetes to control both conditions.
Some signs to watch out for as you age are:
· Bleeding gums
· Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
· Loose teeth or teeth that are drifting apart
· Change in bite or change in the fit of your partial dentures
· Constant bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your dentist right away to schedule an appointment, as these are signs of periodontal disease in the early stages, when the condition is still reversible.
Keep Your Old Habits
While the long-term goal is to prevent periodontal disease so that you can prevent bone loss, it’s also helpful to practice those cavity-prevention tips your childhood dentist gave you all those years ago:
· Brush your teeth twice a day, and floss once a day.
· Drink fluoridated water and use fluoridated toothpaste.
· Eat a balanced diet.
· Avoid tobacco.
· Visit your dentist regularly!
Arrange for Dental Care PRE-Retirement
If you know that you’re dental benefits are going to expire when you retire, and if you anticipate that you’ll need ongoing dental care in retirement, schedule an appointment with your dental provider now to discuss your concerns. After a thorough exam and a long discussion about your concerns (for now and in the future), our White Bear Lake dental team can work with you to create a prevention program we can implement before you retire. A prevention program can include anything from a regular cleaning, to sealant placement, to restorative work such as crowns and fillings, to more comprehensive procedures such as root canal or tooth replacement. We suggest getting the bulk of this work done before you retire, as you’ll still have dental benefits to cover a majority of the cost.
We can also let you know what work you can expect to need in the future if certain preventative measures are ignored or aren’t taken. Armed with this knowledge, you can anticipate the budget you’ll need to maintain a strong, healthy smile well into retirement.
At Lakeshore Family Dentistry, we believe in helping our patients maintain good oral health throughout all stages of their life. For many of our patients, retirement is that next stage. If you’re on the verge of retiring and are concerned about how you’re going to take care of your smile throughout your golden years, trust our dental team to work with you, no matter what your situation may be. Contact us at 651-429-3348 or directly at http://www.lakeshorefamilydentist.com/contact.html to schedule your consultation with us today!