The Mayo Clinic advises that poor dental health significantly impacts your physical health, including causing heart disease and endocarditis, an infection of the heart’s inner lining. Diseases which often affect us as we age like osteoporosis, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, to name a few, frequently cause dental problems that eventually become too painful to ignore. Seniors often need more dental care than younger generations because of softening bones and teeth or a dry mouth, which can lead to an assortment of oral health problems. Regular visits to the dentist can save money down the road while reducing the risk of painful dental problems.
But for many, the perceived high cost of dental insurance is one of the key factors that is keeping them from getting a policy. Luckily, there are a number of different options for people at different price points. According to the National Association of Dental Plans, the average annual cost of coverage in 2009 (the most recent year the survey was conducted) for a dental HMO plan was around $225 per year for an individual or $445 per family, the cost of a dental PPO plan averaged around $285 for an individual and $866 per family, and indemnity plans cost an average of $288 for an individual and $666 for a family.
If you go to an out-of-network dentist, then the plan usually pays based on the UCR fee. For example, if the dentist charges $250 for the filling, but the UCR in your area is $150, you could end up paying more. In this case, $130 ($250 – $150 X (.80)). This also introduces the concept of balanced billing, which means paying the dentist the cost difference between their rate ($250 in this case) and the cost-sharing rate ($120).
No matter which type of plan you choose, we recommend that you carefully review your contract so you know exactly what your insurance will cover. Additionally, in most cases your dentist's office will be familiar with what your insurance may or may not cover. Since many dental offices will require you to pay the estimated uncovered balance upfront, you will need to make sure you know what that is in advance so you can plan your budget. If you cannot cover the remaining balance you may want to ask if your dentist provides financing.

If you are on a policy that requires you to go to a participating provider, you should not be charged the difference between these two prices. A contracted dentist generally has an agreement with the insurance company to write off the difference in charges. If the policy allows you to go to a dentist or pediatric dentist of your choice, check the insurance company’s UCR fee guide against the fees that dentist charges. You may be required to pay the difference out of your pocket, however, you cannot put a price tag on quality dental care.
Seniors have special dental needs that come with getting older such as root decay, gum disease, tooth loss and more. Even non-dental conditions common to seniors, such as arthritis, can affect dental health. For those coming off of an employee group health plan upon after retiring, coverage may not be extended after you leave your job, leaving you to find your own dental coverage. Most plans have a waiting period for coverage, so this can leave you without coverage for a period of time.
AARP, Aetna, Blue Cross, Humana, and Delta Dental are a few of the many insurance companies that offer dental plans to seniors. Each company may offer more than one type of dental plan and it is important to pay close attention to more than just the cost of the dental policy. Choosing the best dental plan for a senior is a balancing act between cost, affordability, and need. A good approach is to start by understanding what the senior’s dental needs are and then make a table so that as you begin to compare the different dental plans you can narrow down those plans that are good and remove those plans that are either too costly for the coverage they provide or that do not fit the senior’s dental needs.
Dental Health Maintenance Organization plans entail dentists contracting with a dental insurance company that dentists agree to accept an insurance fee schedule and give their customers a reduced cost for services as an In-Network Provider. Many DHMO insurance plans have little or no waiting periods and no annual maximum benefit limitations, while covering major dental work near the start of the policy period. This plan is sometimes purchased to help defray the high cost of the dental procedures. Some dental insurance plans offer free semi-annual preventative treatment. Fillings, crowns, implants, and dentures may have various limitations.
Copyright © 2011–2018 Delta Dental of Tennessee | All Rights Reserved | 240 Venture Circle, Nashville, TN 37228 | (800) 223-3104 The information provided on this site is for general education purposes only and is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, or a substitute for professional medical or dental advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult your dentist or physician for information or treatment specific to you and your health.

Often, there is no waiting period in a group plan, like one offered by an employer. Of course, if you were eligible for a company-based plan, you probably wouldn't be shopping around on your own. However, the same privilege might be had in a group plan offered through an organization such as AARP.  With their plans, there's no waiting period for preventative services, at least.   


Preventive care is 100% covered with 2 exams and 3 cleanings free per year. There is a $100 deductible that you only pay once for the life of your plan. After the deductible is met, the plans cover between 80% to 90% of all basic care and 50% to 65% of major work including crowns, bridges, implants, and root canals. Orthodontia is covered at 50% and all plans are highly affordable, with their lowest individual plan often running at less than $115 per month depending on your region. Their highest-tier plan offers a $5,000 maximum benefit per year but isn’t available in every state.
The cost estimates provided may be different from your actual costs for several reasons, including but not limited to, your unique dental circumstances and the decisions made by you and your dental professionals as to what services you will receive, deviations between the anticipated scope of services and the services actually provided, and the characteristics of your particular plan.
« BackeHealth Insurance Resource CenterDental InsuranceDental Insurance for SeniorsDental Insurance for Seniors April 20, 2015 Learn about dental care concerns later in life, and dental insurance for seniors. ShareSenior citizens sometimes need special dental care. As we age, our teeth and gums are more susceptible to decay, inflammation, and disease. Health problems, like osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory disease can also affect dental health, and sometimes the reverse is true, according to the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine and the American Dental Association.Why to consider dental insurance for seniorsOut of all out-of-pocket health-care costs, 27% of expenses are related to dental services, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; some people delay needed dental care because of the expense.Dental insurance isn’t usually included in major medical insurance policies, such as you may have from your employer. You can buy a stand-alone dental plan to cover some of your dental care costs.Keep in mind that dental insurance often requires a waiting period for more expensive treatments, so it’s best not to wait until you need dental insurance to get it.Standard dental policiesYou can buy a standard individual dental insurance plan, usually at a low monthly premium. Standard policies commonly cover these routine procedures, typically performed by family dentists:Regular cleanings and exams: Most policies entitle you to a free cleaning and comprehensive exam twice a year.X-rays: Dentists periodically take bitewing X-rays of your teeth. Depending on your dental insurance plan, x-rays may be fully covered, or you might make a copayment. Other X-rays of your mouth may require a copayment, coinsurance, or deductible.Fillings and extractions: Fillings (removal of decay and filling with a bonding material) and extractions (pulling a tooth out of your mouth) usually require a copayment, coinsurance or deductible in most dental insurance plans.Certain repairs: Standard individual dental insurance plans occasionally include partial coverage on some restorative procedures, such as root canals, crowns, bridges, and deep cleanings. Dental insurance plans usually require a copayment, coinsurance or deductible for these procedures, if they cover them. However, you might need to shop around for a policy that covers these more expensive services.  wp_cta_load_variation( '10789', '' )#cta_container{ border: 1px solid #dbdbdb; border-radius: 5px; } #wp_cta_10789_variation_0 #cta_container #content {background: transparent;}
“Humana” is the brand name for plans, products, and services provided by one or more of the subsidiaries and affiliate companies of Humana Inc. (“Humana Entities”). Plans, products, and services are solely and only provided by one or more Humana Entities specified on the plan, product, or service contract, not Humana Inc. Not all plans, products, and services are available in each state.
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