Dentists! Teeth! As we age, it turns out that our teeth are aging too.
Many seniors are struggling to take care of their teeth. In the United States, it’s unfortunately, a common problem.
If you’re struggling with where to get free or low cost dental care, know this:
There is help.
Here are some of the people, organizations, and programs that offer seniors assistance for dental care. Take a look and see what best fits your needs.
One of the first places to get help is toothwisdom.org. This site is dedicated to providing older adults with health resources. Check out their articles and informative posts on the value of oral health.
Most importantly, use their care locator tool, to find low-cost dental care in your area.
The Administration on Aging offers information about services for seniors. You can use the Eldercare Locator to search for dental services, transportation to appointments, and local programs. If you prefer, you can speak to an information specialist by calling: 1-800-677-1116. You can also use the chat window between 9AM to 8 PM, Monday to Friday to connect with an Information Specialist.
United Way provides information about local services. Just dial 211. This number will put you in touch with an expert and caring service professional that can answer your questions, or happily put you in touch with an organization that can help. You can get help in English or Spanish, and all calls are confidential.
PACE is a Medicare and Medicaid program for people over 55 years old. This Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly includes healthcare and may include dentistry. This may help you find services if you are a resident in the area, and are found to be eligible for nursing home care.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) supports health centers for people without insurance, or on a limited income. Many federally funded centers offer a sliding scale to make services available to people, based on what they can afford to pay. Check online or feel free to call at 1-888-275-4772.
Free dental care is available from a non-profit, Dentistry From The Heart (DFTH). This inspiring non-profit offers local events to help keep people smiling. Events are places where people who are unable to afford dental care can get services such as cleaning, filling, and extraction.
Local dentists and hygienists donate their time to care for patients at local events. This non-profit offers hundreds of events in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Puerto Rico.
Free and low cost dental care options are often available through United Way. With chapters across the United States, you may be able to find the care that fits your needs. There are nearly 1,800 local United Ways around the world.
Free Clinics are also available through The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics. NAFCC seeks to offer affordable health care for the medically underserved through 1400 clinics across the country. This organization is devoted to making a difference in healthcare. Check out their website or call 1-703-647-7427.
Look for options for free, low-cost, and sliding scale clinics. Check out the comprehensive list of clinics on Needymeds. You’ll find services including medical, dental, mental health, and substance abuse clinics. This site is a great resource for finding medical assistance programs for equipment, supplies, medical transportation, and more.
The Dental Life Network offers access to dental services for the elderly, people with disabilities, and people who are medically at risk. Dental care is available for seniors through programs offered by Donated Dental Services (DDS.) The nationwide network has 17,000 volunteer dentists and 3,700 dental laboratories across the United States. Find out if you qualify by visiting their website or calling 303-534-5360.
Dental schools are another great option to check out. Many dental schools have clinics where students gain experience providing care, and working with dentures. Start exploring options in your area by checking with schools in your state: The American Dental Association (ADA) provides a listing of dental schools, many of which have clinics.
Dental needs often change as people age.
If you’ve been putting off getting dental treatment, take action. It is easier to deal with dental issues when you act early. If you have a current problem, now is a great time to explore your options.
Keep these 5 oral health tips in mind as you move forward:
Ask About Alternatives
As you are balancing finances with treatment options, don’t be shy about asking for options. A simple question to ask your dentist before a procedure is, “What other options do I have?” This may lead you to explore different treatments that may be more cost-effective.
Get Help Early
Early treatment tends to be the least costly method. The longer you wait, the more complex or extensive a problem may become. Waiting for treatment is rarely the way to make things more effective or affordable.
Get Regular Check-Ups
Prevention is the way to go. Regular exams and check-ups are recommended because they can ensure that potential problems are caught early. If at all possible, keep getting regular checkups – perhaps at some of the clinics suggested above.
Seniors have different oral health concerns. As we age we may need to be on the lookout for bone loss, tooth decay, gum recession, and dry mouth. A dentist and a hygienist can spot these issues, and help you keep your oral health in top shape.
Additionally, oral health changes can indicate other overall health issues. Oral disease has been linked with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, pneumonia, or Alzheimer’s Disease.
Ask for Discounts
Many dentists want to encourage seniors to get dental care. They often offer discounts, perks, or programs for seniors. Ask your dentist if they have a senior discount, cash discount, or option of care without insurance. Some dentists offer private membership plans that may be an alternative to more costly insurance.
Getting the dental care you need is especially important while aging. Check out the many programs and services where you can find dental help – at a low cost or free of charge.