More than 44 million1 individuals in the United States are age 65 or older. Practicing good oral health habits is an essential part of maintaining good overall health at any age. Being retired doesn’t mean retiring good oral health routines. Maintaining one’s teeth and gums by brushing and flossing daily and visiting the dentist regularly is essential to keeping a mouth healthy. Delta Dental of Illinois recognizes Older Americans Month in May and calls attention to the oral health of retirees and why continuing dental benefits after retirement is a good choice for individuals.
Studies show that 81 percent of Illinoisans with dental benefits visit the dentist at least twice a year, while only 34 percent without dental benefits visit the dentist twice a year. Visiting the dentist is even more important for older adults who are still at risk for tooth decay and cavities. In fact, tooth decay is a common chronic disease in adults 65 and older.2 Nearly half of Americans age 65 and older have lost six or more teeth, and 20 percent have lost all of their teeth.3
Despite issues like tooth loss, regular professional preventive care remains an important aspect of oral health care as one gets older. In addition to cleaning teeth, at each exam dentists should screen for oral cancer, periodontal disease and other mouth problems that become more common in older individuals, so it’s important to keep dental appointments. Dental visits can help prevent, detect and manage diseases of the mouth and body before they become serious. In fact, more than 75 percent of oral cancers and more than 120 diseases can be detected in and around the mouth and jaw, including diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease. Visiting the dentist regularly can also help detect and treat oral health issues early, preventing them from becoming more severe and costly to treat.
Unfortunately, most Americans lose dental coverage after retirement, and Medicare does not cover dental.4 But retirees do have options. Delta Dental of Illinois individual dental plans offer affordable options for retirees and individuals who need coverage. Delta Dental of Illinois offers both traditional dental plans and plans that meet the guidelines of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Pediatric Dental Essential Health Benefit (EHB).
Delta Dental of Illinois also provides a dental savings plan, Patient Direct, which is available in Illinois for individuals that don’t currently have dental benefits. This dental savings plan allows patients to choose from a panel of participating dentists who have agreed to charge lower fees for their services. With Patient Direct, patients pay the dentist directly at the time of treatment.5
Dental benefits can result in great cost savings for you — but the value is much more than just monetary. Dental benefits can also impact overall health while providing peace of mind— and that value is priceless.
Learn more about maintaining good oral health as you get older by downloading our Life Stages of Oral Health: 65+ flyer.
5 Journal of the American Dental Association, Vol 134, No suppl_1, 41S-48S. 2003