We all learn from a young age that it’s important to maintain good oral health. Brush, floss, and visit the dentist regularly for cleanings and X-rays. While we may stick to a routine of annual exams for a while, we can be tempted to neglect visits to the dentist as we get older. Costs associated with dental services can be intimidating, especially if your insurance doesn’t cover them. If you are eligible for Medicare benefits or will qualify soon, you may be able to get help paying for dental services.

As we age, chronic illness, such as arthritis, diabetes, and cancer, can contribute to serious dental problems, including gum disease, root decay, and thrush. Prolonged use of certain prescription medications can also lead to dry mouth and diminished sense of taste. Seniors are at risk for poor oral hygiene, but regular dental visits can help you maintain good health. What can you expect at a dental visit? Your dentist will ask about any changes in your teeth and gums. If you have experienced any changes, loose or sensitive teeth, or pain, your dentist can check for any specific issues. An oral exam will include checking the teeth, tongue, gums, jaw, and the dentist will look for any sign of infection or disease.

If you qualify for Medicare, you may be able to get help paying for dental services. Medicare recipients with Original Medicare Part A and Part B find that even though Medicare does cover many costs, it does not cover all your costs or services. With this in mind, many Medicare recipients choose to get their benefits through a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage, or Part C, plans are offered by private insurance companies that contract with Medicare. They are required to offer at least the same Part A and Part B coverage as Original Medicare, but many plans offer additional benefits for little to no additional costs. Many Medicare Advantage plans include benefits such as prescription drug coverage, dental services, hearing exams, and even fitness club memberships.

During Medicare’s Annual Election Period, you may want to consider your options. From October 15 through December 7, you can make changes to your Medicare coverage. Take time to research and compare plans available in your area and find a Medicare Advantage plan that includes the dental coverage you need.