Vaccine mandates across the United States are becoming more stringent as the country attempts to return to normality after almost two years of the COVID pandemic. From first responders to trade workers, people are losing access to healthcare due to vaccine refusal, and seniors may be next.
Medicare recipients who opt out of COVID vaccination could be facing loss of insurance, including dental care for those who qualify.
There are many financial obstacles to overcome to receive dental care for most people, and the removal of dental insurance could have a huge impact on the lasting health of people over 65 years of age.
Why Dental Care is so Important for Seniors
Maintaining proper dental hygiene and scheduling regular visits with a dentist are some very important steps older adults can take to maintain their overall health and quality of life.
Without the ability to do so, seniors face a lot of possible challenges including:
- Tooth Loss: Seniors who experience tooth loss or dental caries due to inadequate dental care have a higher risk of being underweight and having nutritional deficiencies.
- Pre-existing conditions: Dental health is also tied to a lot of other possible diseases in other parts of the body, which many seniors may already have complications with.
- Heart disease: Heart disease is tied heavily to proper oral hygiene in older adults. Seniors with poor dental health leading to gum inflammation have a higher risk of stroke and developing or worsening existing heart conditions.
- Diabetes: Poor oral care can also be dangerous for senior with diabetes, who tend to have a higher concentration of glucose in their saliva. This can lead to bacterial growth and gum disease, which may affect their ability to regulate blood sugar.
- Cancer: A visit with a dentist can detect everything from early signs of gum disease or tooth decay to oral cancer, which seniors are at a higher risk of developing already.
Even for older adults who may not have any of these problems, regular dental checkups can be incredibly helpful for preventative care.
How a Lack of Dental Insurance can Affect the Lives of Millions of Older Adults
Over 55 million people over 65 are enrolled in at least one Medicare plan.
Even for those who don’t have Medicare Advantage, which covers a wide range of dental health options and regular preventative checkups, Medicare is crucial in covering necessary oral surgery or other complex surgeries in which poor dental health may pose a risk.
With the possibility of losing access to Medicare in the near future, seniors need to begin at looking at their other options when it comes to oral care.
There are many private insurance companies that offer dental packages alongside basic plans, and there are even walk-in dental offices which are more costly, but great as a last resort.
Good dental care is crucial in maintaining a healthy lifestyle as an older adult. Seniors need to keep an eye out for any changes in their Medicare coverage eligibility, and if they choose to go without it, find dental care alternatives that work for them.