Dental Insurance

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Dental Insurance for Boomers—Don't Retire Your Oral Health

As you reach age 65, there are plenty of details to consider—for starters, establishing a comfortable savings for retirement and setting up Medicare. While dental insurance may not be your biggest concern, it is an important consideration as you plan for your retirement years. No matter what your age, taking care of your mouth matters.

Caring for your teeth

Oral health is intrinsically linked to overall health according to numerous studies. Advanced gum disease, known as periodontis, has been associated with more serious health problems such as cardiovascular disease, stroke and bacterial pneumonia. This is not to say that one causes the other; however, the presence of one may indicate a higher risk for the other.

Just as it is important to continue routine brushing and flossing, you should also visit your dentist regularly. Your dentist can address age-specific oral health concerns such as cavities, sensitivity, gingivitis, dry mouth and tooth decay. Dentists can also assist you with issues related to dentures and offer guidance on other age-related issues such as how to brush with arthritic pain.

Continuing dental coverage

You may be tempted to forego dental insurance if you are on a fixed budget, but with relatively low premiums compared to other types of insurance, dental coverage can help you save money in the long run.

While dental insurance does not guarantee perfect oral health, those with dental insurance see the dentist more often and are more likely to receive the preventive that helps avoid more serious oral health issues. Plus, when and if major services are needed, having insurance can assist with high-cost procedures that can be especially cumbersome on someone on a retirement budget.

Choosing a plan

When shopping for dental insurance for seniors, be cautious and read the fine print. Many plans marketed toward baby boomers are discount plans, not fully insured plans like those you may have received through an employer.

Discount plans are exactly as they sound; they are plans that offer savings on dental procedures through participating providers. You pay those providers directly for all of their services and also pay the discount plan a monthly membership fee.

With a fully insured individual dental plan, you pay a monthly premium and, depending on your plan, deductible, copay and/or coinsurance. Your dental insurance company pays participating providers for covered services.

There are competitively priced, well-designed individual dental plans that are on par with most employer plans and stack up favorably to better-than-average individual plans. Often these are not senior-only plans, but the same plans sold to people of all ages with higher coinsurance percentages for preventive care and lower coinsurance percentages for pricier benefits such as crowns and root canals.

Dental plans tend to be fairly straightforward, but you may read more about purchasing the perfect plan before shopping around.

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