Your health becomes increasingly important as you age. But there’s one area that many older adults tend to neglect when they reach their later years: their oral health. With basic health insurance and Medicare lacking dental coverage and the cost of dental visits rising, many seniors simply can’t afford to take care of their teeth. And that means oral health often falls by the wayside.
However, failing to get regular dental care can have a serious – and potentially deadly – impact on seniors’ health. One in every five adults age 65 or older has untreated cavities, and two in every three adults is living with gum disease. Ignoring these dental problems can result in life-altering crises, including heart attacks and strokes.
That’s why finding ways to save money on dental care is so important for aging adults. And luckily, there are ways to cut costs. Seniors just need to know about them. The following are a few different ways you could save money on your visits to the dentist.
1. Consider Looking for Better Dental Insurance
Many seniors either don’t have dental insurance or are carrying dental insurance that doesn’t cover enough of their needs. While dental insurance seems like an expensive price to pay, having the right kind of dental insurance could help seniors save money.
The right dental insurance will save you money. Most insurance plans cover 100 percent of all preventative dental care, 50 percent of basic care like fillings and root canals, and 20 percent of restorative care like dentures and bridges. If your dental insurance is lacking, or costing you far more, you need to consider a new plan.
If you search online and compare different dental insurance plans, you could find better coverage at a more affordable price. Some dental insurance plans cost under $20 per month – which makes dental care within any budget.
2. Shop Around for Dental Care
In addition to searching for and comparing different dental insurance plans, you should also shop around for your dental care.
Whether you’ve been seeing the same dentist for decades or recently found a new dentist, it’s a smart idea for seniors to consistently shop around. While you might like your dentist’s care, you may be able to save money on everything from regular teeth cleanings to dental procedures.
Search online and see what other clinics, dentists’ offices, and dental organizations are offering. Look into – and compare – their costs, payment options, and accepted dental insurance plans. Taking the time to do this every so often could save you money, and you could switch to a reputable dentist who charges less, offers new patient discounts or specials, or does procedures and care at a reduced cost.
3. Sign Up for a Dental Discount Plan
Dental discount plans might sound like dental insurance plans, but they’re very different. A dental discount plan is a plan that’s specifically designed to save you money on every visit to the dentist.
Also called dental savings plans, dental discount plans allow anyone – insured or uninsured – to get dental care at a reduced price. You sign up for an annual membership at a set price, and then you’ll get access to a network of participating dentists who give dental discount members lower prices.
Joining a dental discount plan can save you anywhere from 10 percent to 60 percent on the cost of your dental care. And unlike insurance, dental discount plans will accept absolutely everyone. Seniors don’t need to worry about their age, finances, or any health restrictions, as these discount plans work for any adult.
4. Go to a Local Dental School
Did you know that dental schools accept patients? Even more importantly, did you know that dental schools offer all kinds of dental procedures at a reduced price?
Most people don’t know this. It’s a little secret of the dental industry: dental schools are training students who will ultimately become dentists, and they need patients to practice on. And that means you can get your oral health needs taken care of, all at reduced cost.
Because dental students are performing the work of teeth cleanings, procedures like root canals, and even cosmetic dentistry as practice, dental schools offer deep discounts for patients. All of these students are supervised by experienced instructors, who can ensure procedures and cleanings are being properly done. Seniors who are looking for big savings should check with dental schools in their area to see how much they can save.
5. Participate in Clinical Trials
Seniors can also get low-cost – or even free – dental care by volunteering to participate in clinical trials. Universities and research organizations, like the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, often need volunteers to participate in their research on various types of dental care.
And if you’re comfortable volunteering for these research projects, you’ll become a study participant. Participants are typically rewarded with cheap or free dental treatment, which means you could get necessary procedures done without paying much at all.
Start Saving on Your Dental Care Costs Today
Seniors shouldn’t have to choose between their finances and their oral health. But unfortunately, many older adults are forgoing visits to the dentist in hopes of saving money. And this can lead to a whole host of complications and health crises if your oral health worsens.
Don’t sacrifice your health. There are ways to save money on dental care and each visit to your dentist’s office. You just need to use tips like the ones mentioned here to cut your costs. And you can also search online for other ways to save, compare insurance and discount options, or even find a more affordable dentist in your area.