Good health starts in your mouth, not just from the foods and beverages you eat and drink but also from sound oral hygiene. For seniors, dental health is especially critical as the body ages.
The Cleveland Clinic reports a link between poor oral health and many health issues that impact seniors, including endocarditis, cardiovascular disease and pneumonia. Since Medicare doesn’t cover most dental care, finding the best dental insurance for seniors is imperative.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five adults 65 and older have tooth decay that’s gone untreated, and that same ratio of people have lost all their teeth.
Moreover, two out of three adults 65 and older have gum disease. Tooth decay and gum disease are major contributors to poor overall body health.
Some seniors may receive dental care through Medicare Advantage, retirement plans or an employer’s plan. However, many older Americans don’t have dental coverage. If that includes you, private insurance offers affordable dental coverage for routine and specialized care.
Quick Look: Best Dental Insurance for Seniors
Best Dental Insurance for Seniors
The best dental insurance for seniors is affordable, has no waiting periods, pays high maximum benefits, provides widespread access and offers preventive care, including routine checkups, cleanings and fillings.
1. Best for Affordable Options: Delta Dental
Delta Dental is the largest dental insurance company in the U.S. It offers services specific to seniors, with costs ranging from $19.08 to $38.42 per month.
- Preventive care under $20
- PPOs and HMOs available in 50 states
- Widely accepted
- Major procedures not covered under basic plan
- Must pay lump sum of $207.88 for DeltaCare
- Waiting period for some services
2. Best for No Network Restrictions: Spirit Dental
securely through Spirit Dental & Vision’s website
Dental + Vision Plans
Spirit Dental offers a wide variety of plans underwritten by Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. and uses the same network. Monthly premiums start at $18.30 and go up to $49.79.
- No waiting for preventive, basic or major care
- Full coverage of preventive services
- Hearing health benefits on some plans
- Lowest coverage with many plans in first year
- Reimburses just 50% in first year for basic care
- Pays only 25% for major care in first year
3. Best for Annual Maximum Benefits: Ameritas Dental
Ameritas Dental traces its roots back to 1887 in Nebraska and offers many kinds of insurance, including dental. Its Primestar Total plan offers maximum annual benefits and no waiting period for an average of $66.82 per month.
- Maximum payout of $2,000 per person in first year
- 100% in-network preventive care
- No waiting period
- Higher cost than average for senior dental insurance
- In-network major care covered at 20% first year
- In-network major care covered at 50% second year
4. Best for Comprehensive Coverage: Humana Dental
Humana Dental offers five separate dental plans for seniors. Monthly premiums run from $18.99 for the most basic plan to $53.99 for the best.
- 80% coverage for basic procedures
- No waiting
- Low deductibles
- Higher-than-usual cost for preventive care
- Some states have enrollment fees
- Discounted services available only in-network
5. Best for No-Cost Preventive Care: Aetna Dental
Three different plans are available from Aetna Dental, costing $19.80, $45.41 and $52.09.
- Full coverage for preventive care
- High coverage for basic procedures under two plans
- Broad network coverage
- High out-of-network costs
- Potential for long waiting periods
- No loyalty plans
How Does Dental Insurance for Seniors Work?
Unless covered by your employer, you pay a premium for your dental insurance, plus coinsurance and deductibles when you receive dental care. Typically, dental insurance covers 100% of your preventive care and a percentage of your basic and major care. You pay for any remaining costs.
Why Do Seniors Need Dental Insurance?
Dental coverage can ensure that your daily oral hygiene is up to snuff. Older adults often lose dental insurance at retirement, and Medicare doesn’t provide dental insurance.
Here are some key benefits.
- Maintain overall health: Good oral health is linked to good overall health.
- Keep problems at bay: Prevent common issues like gum disease, tooth decay and dry mouth.
- Control your costs: Insurance will cover some or all of your dental expenses.
Dental insurance also provides access to quality doctors since plans usually have large networks of providers and locations.
Types of Dental Insurance Plans for Seniors
Seniors have several types of insurance plans and programs to choose from.
Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs)
With a PPO plan, you can visit any dentist you want (although it’s cheaper to visit one in the preferred network).
You’ll pay a monthly premium and a deductible and be responsible for a percentage of the cost of services. The premiums and deductibles for a PPO are typically higher than for a DHMO, but you’ll enjoy greater flexibility and more coverage.
Dental Health Maintenance Organizations (DHMOs)
With a DHMO, you can only visit dentists in your plan’s network. You’ll pay a fixed monthly fee and may have a copay for some services. A DHMO typically offers low premiums and no deductibles but comes with limited services and longer waits.
Direct Reimbursement Plan
Typically, direct reimbursement plans are funded by your employer and allow you to choose the dentist you want. They reimburse you for any dental services you pay for out of pocket.
Supplemental Dental Insurance
Dental insurance plans typically have an annual maximum limit of $2,000. You can purchase supplemental dental insurance to cover services above that limit or other services not covered by your original plan. You may also buy additional coverage to get a shorter wait time than your original policy offers.
Dental Discount Plan
A dental discount plan isn’t technically an insurance plan but rather a membership program. You pay an annual fee but no deductible or copay. Costs for services are usually low, and you pay the dentist directly.
What Do Senior Dental Plans Cover?
Coverage will vary depending on the costs and other particulars of the plan you purchase. Here’s what’s typically covered:
- Preventive care like checkups, X-rays and cleanings
- Basic care, such as fillings and tooth extractions
- Major care like crowns, root canals and surgery
- Other services, such as dentures
Plans differ, but your preventive care will generally be covered 100%, basic care 50% and major care 20%.
How Much Does Senior Dental Insurance Cost?
The best dental insurance for seniors can cost as little as $20 to $35 per month, which is good news for a demographic that’s mostly on a fixed income. On the high end, dental plans for seniors might cost more than $100.
How Much Coverage Does Dental Insurance for Seniors Provide?
The amount of dental coverage you receive depends somewhat on how much you pay. Lower premiums tend to get you limited services, while higher premiums give you greater coverage. You must weigh your situation carefully to determine how much coverage you need for your dental health.
Find Dental Coverage to Stay Healthy
Dental insurance for seniors is widely available, and it could be crucial for both your oral and overall health. The providers listed here and others offer many low-cost options that can help you prioritize your well-being for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
It depends on your dental plan. A PPO allows you to visit any dentist, but you have to visit an in-network doctor with a DHMO. Review your plan for more specific information.
While some plans provide comprehensive coverage, which includes cosmetic procedures like veneers, many don’t. Once again, you’ll need to check your policy to see what’s covered.
You can get dental insurance with a pre-existing condition; however, your plan might not cover treatment for that condition.