Why dental insurance for retirees is a must

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As you enter your golden years and enjoy the freedom of retirement, there’s one thing you might be forgetting.

Dental health is more than just a shallow cosmetic concern. Serious problems with your teeth, gums, and jaws can have severe consequences for your overall health, from chronic pain and discomfort to infections and risk of septic shock. Dental insurance helps you afford the care you need, keeping your teeth healthy and strong for years to come.

senior couple sitting on a couch laughing

As you get older, you’re at a higher risk for dental problems

People over 65 are at an increased risk for gum disease¹, and without dental insurance, you might find yourself putting off treatment. Advancing age can bring all kinds of dental and periodontal (gum) issues, many of which need proper treatment to prevent further health issues that result from them.

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Tooth darkening

Even if you brush regularly and take great care of your teeth and gums, advancing age can darken your teeth. This is because as you grow older, your body undergoes changes in dentin, a type of tissue similar to bone that lies beneath the outside layer of enamel. A lifetime of tea, red wine, coffee, and cola can increase the problem. Your enamel can also thin with age, letting yellower dentin show through.²

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Dry mouth

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a common side effect of many medications. Drugs for a variety of conditions like depression, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and hypertension can lower your saliva levels. This isn’t good for your teeth and gums and can raise your risk of gingivitis, tooth decay, and oral infections.

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Root decay

After a lifetime of exposure to acidic foods and beverages, the roots of your teeth can gradually succumb to decay. As you get older, gum tissue recedes away from the roots, exposing them further. Unlike the rest of the tooth, the roots are not protected by a layer of enamel, leaving them susceptible to serious damage.

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Gum disease

Gum disease has a variety of causes. It can result from a history of poor dental hygiene habits, from smoking and poor diets, and even from poorly fitting dentures or bridges. Chronic health conditions like diabetes and anemia can increase your risk. Gum disease usually starts as gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums that can cause minor bleeding when you brush or floss. This is caused by the buildup of harmful bacteria.

Over time, it can progress to periodontitis. The inner layers of your gums begin to pull away from your teeth, creating small spaces where food debris can collect. This creates a prime opportunity for infection. The plaque bacteria emit harmful compounds, further breaking down the teeth and gum tissue, ultimately loosening the teeth. Periodontitis is the most common cause of tooth loss, and older people are at a higher risk.³

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Jawbone unevenness

If you lose teeth due to oral health problems, but you don’t replace them with prosthetics, the rest of your teeth will naturally begin to move and drift into the open spaces. This can actually harm your jaw and interfere with its normal alignment, causing pain and discomfort.

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Thrush is a fungal infection caused by a particular species of yeast, Candida albicans. This often results from diseases or prescription drugs that interfere with your immune system, making your body more prone to infection.⁴

Seniors are struggling with oral health issues

There’s plenty of discussion about healthcare for the aging population, but what about dental care? Your teeth, gums, and jaws are as much a part of your body as any other organs, and untreated dental and periodontal problems can be dangerous. Less than one-third of adults aged 65 and over have dental insurance, meaning much of the retired population is going without adequate dental care.⁵ Losing your teeth is not just a normal part of modern aging, it’s a sign of untreated health issues. About 20% of adults over 65 have untreated tooth decay and almost 68% of adults aged 65 and older have some form of gum disease.⁶ This problem can be solved with attainable, affordable, and comprehensive dental plans for retirees.

chart showing the relationship between adults without insurance and tooth decay

When you retired, you may have lost access to a dental plan you enjoyed for years or decades through your previous employer. It can be challenging to find affordable dental insurance independently, leaving many seniors unable to afford the costly dental and periodontal care they need. Fortunately, there are options out there. You can find and choose from a variety of dental plans for retirees, helping you greatly reduce the cost of going to a dentist and maintaining your oral health.

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  1. https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/adult-oral-health/adult\_older.htm (Last accessed September 2019)

  2. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10958-tooth-discoloration (Last accessed September 2019)

  3. http://www.ada.org/en/~/media/ADA/Publications/Files/ADA\_PatientSmart\_Perio\_Disease (Last accessed September 2019)

  4. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/thrush (Last accessed September 2019)

  5. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db337.htm (Last accessed September 2019)

  6. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db337.htm (Last accessed September 2019)


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