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Layin’ It on the Line: Don’t let your million-dollar smile become a $10K mistake

By Lyle Boss - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Jul 6, 2022

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Lyle Boss

“Health is like money; we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it.” — Josh Billings

Dental expenses can be a major financial burden at any stage of life, but they can be especially threatening to retirees who are living on a fixed income. In addition to the costs of routine care and preventive treatments, retirees may also face unexpected expenses such as dental implants or oral surgery. And, because Medicare does not cover most dental services, these costs can quickly eat into retirement savings.

While most people think of dental care as simply keeping their teeth clean, it is essential for maintaining overall health. Poor dental hygiene has been linked to heart disease, stroke, respiratory illnesses and even diabetes. Therefore, taking care of your teeth is not only important for a beautiful smile, but also for a long and healthy life.

To protect their financial security and health, retirees should consider the following.

Medicare does not cover all dental expenses

Part of Medicare includes dental coverage, which helps to pay for some routine dental services. However, there are limits to what Medicare will cover. For example, Medicare will not pay for dentures, braces or cosmetic dental procedures. In addition, Medicare will only pay for certain types of preventative care, based on qualifications below. As a result, people with Medicare must be careful to choose a dental plan that meets their needs and budget.

Does Medicare cover dental care?

Medicare Part A and Part B will only cover dental services if they are required for another medical procedure and a physician deems them medically necessary.

Additionally, Medicare Part A and Part B may cover dental work as a part of or related to an emergency. For example, Medicare would cover tooth extractions as part of reconstructive jaw surgery after an accident.

However, to be clear, most dental care falls outside the narrow window of exceptions.

Medicare does NOT cover any of the following dental services or treatments:

  • Oral surgery
  • Dentures
  • Dental implants
  • Wisdom tooth removal
  • Oral exams
  • Teeth cleaning
  • Orthodontics
  • Invisible aligners
  • Root canal treatment
  • Abscess tooth

Choosing the right dental insurance

Dental insurance is an important part of staying healthy. There are a few things to consider when choosing dental insurance. First, you need to decide what type of coverage you need. Some plans and some states may have age limits; ask before you act.

There are three basic types of dental insurance:

  • Indemnity plans.
  • Preferred provider organization plans.
  • Dental health maintenance organization plans.

Each type of plan has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it is important to choose the plan that best meets your needs. Second, you need to consider the cost of the plan. Dental insurance can be expensive, so it is important to compare prices before deciding. Third, you need to make sure that the plan covers the dental services that you need. For example, some plans do not cover cosmetic dentistry or orthodontics. Finally, you need to read the fine print before signing up for any dental insurance plan. By taking the time to do your research, you can ensure that you choose the right dental insurance plan for your needs.

Take good care of your teeth and don’t put off treatment

When it comes to dental care, it is important to take a proactive approach. That means regular brushing and flossing, along with routine checkups and cleanings. Many people wait until they are in pain before they see a dentist, which can end up costing them more money in the long run. Dental problems tend to get worse over time, so by putting off treatment you are likely to end up needing more extensive (and expensive) procedures down the road. In addition, dental insurance often covers preventive care at 100%, so there is no excuse for putting off those routine appointments. So, if you want to save money on dental care, the best thing to do is to take care of your teeth now.

By planning for dental expenses, retirees can safeguard their savings and help enjoy a healthy and stress-free retirement.

Lyle Boss is a member of Syndicated Columnists, a national organization committed to a fully transparent approach to money management. Boss Financial, 955 Chambers St., Suite 250, Ogden, UT 84403. Telephone: 801-475-9400.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify the conditions under which Medicare will cover dental procedures.


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