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Planning for Dental Care Costs in Retirement

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When planning for health care in retirement, the cost of dental care needs special attention. Dental infections, disorders and injuries can cost thousands of dollars to treat. Preventive care is relatively low-cost, and keeping up with routine cleanings and exams — which can catch and correct problems early on — are one of the most cost-effective strategies for keeping costs under control. But, as with most dental treatments, Medicare does not cover preventive dental care. 

So what does Medicare cover?

If an individual receives emergency dental care or a specific complicated dental procedure in a hospital, Medicare Part A will cover that cost. Medicare does not, however, cover other common dental treatments and supplies, such as cleanings, fillings, dentures and dental plates.

Dental care is important after age 65. When teeth look, feel and function the way they should, individuals have a better quality of life. They can eat more foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, and speak and smile without any embarrassment.

But oral health has implications beyond the mouth. The Washington Dental Service Foundation reports that gum disease is linked to stroke and pneumonia and can lead to a significantly higher risk of heart disease. The National Association of Dental Plans states that gum disease is not only linked to an increased risk for diabetes complications, it may also be a factor for developing Type 2 diabetes.

What are smart strategies for covering the cost of your clients’ predictable and emergency dental care — from cleanings and crowns to implants and gum disease — in retirement? There are several approaches they can consider.