Dental Insurance for Seniors on Medicare

Contributor, Benzinga

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When you turn 65, you can find affordable coverage by signing up for Medicare. While Medicare is a wonderful option for most medical care needs seniors will run into, it doesn’t cover everything. 

One of the few things that Medicare won’t cover is dental care needs under most circumstances. Thankfully, there are a few options that seniors can use to find affordable dental care outside of Medicare. 

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Does Medicare Offer Dental Coverage?

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people over the age of 65. This program covers a lot of medical needs, such as inpatient hospital stays, certain doctor’s services and prescriptions, but coverage is dependent on which Medicare plan you have. 

Original Medicare, commonly referred to as Medicare Part A and Part B, generally does not cover a majority of dental care. These plans do not cover dental procedures, dental devices or supplies, cleanings, fillings and most other basic dental needs. Medicare Part A covers hospital services and therefore will cover emergency or complex dental procedures if they are needed while you are checked into a hospital as an inpatient.

Medicare Part B is considered medical insurance and covers things like doctor’s appointments and X-rays. However, Part B does not cover dental services either. Medicare Part D is strictly for prescription drug coverage.  

Can You Get Dental Coverage Through Another Part of Medicare?

While the basic Medicare parts A and B do not offer dental coverage, Medicare Part C (also referred to as “Medicare Advantage”) offers additional benefits that can include vision, hearing and dental care. Medicare Advantage Plans are administered by private insurance companies that have been approved by the federal government.  

These Advantage Plans can cover basic necessities such as cleanings and fillings, in addition to the coverage offered by Part A and Part B. Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to afford a Medicare Part C plan. The premiums for Part C can cost more than those of Part A and Part B. You’re getting more coverage, but you’re paying for that extra coverage. 

The premium for Medicare Advantage Plans can be hundreds of dollars more than Medicare Part A and Part B, so be sure you’re getting the coverage you need at the price that best fits you. If you have a fixed income, Medicare Advantage Plans may not be the best choice for you. If you can afford it, or you are the caregiver of someone who clearly needs dental coverage, then you might want to consider adding a Medicare Part C plan to your list of coverages. 

The cost of a Medicare Advantage Plan can also vary from state to state and even county to county. The price that you’ll pay will be dependent on the insurance company because the coverage is coming through private companies that are able to set their own prices (unlike Original Medicare). Many major insurance providers offer Medicare Part C plans, so don’t be afraid to shop around before you select a plan. 

Do Seniors Have Other Dental Options?

There are several options for seniors on Medicare to get dental coverage. If a Medicare Part C plan is out of your budget, you may want to consider the following additional options that can help you get affordable dental care. 

  • Purchase a dental insurance plan: You can easily purchase a stand-alone dental insurance plan from a variety of providers. You’ll pay a monthly premium similar to any other insurance plan, and some plans may offer coverage for as little as $20 a month. With some plans, you can also receive annual cleanings at no cost. 

Keep in mind that with some insurance companies, dental coverage only comes when you purchase other coverage, such as vision or hearing. Furthermore, some insurance companies only offer dental coverage in certain states. Shop around and compare to find a plan that best suits your coverage and financial needs.  

  • Find a discount dental plan: With discount dental plans, you’re essentially joining a club, similar to how you might join a wholesale club like Costco. You’ll be required to pay a membership fee to maintain your standing in the plan. In exchange, select dental care service providers will offer you a discount on dental services. The membership fee associated with these clubs is usually cheaper than the cost of insurance, but you still need to pay for the cost of the care after the discount is applied.  
  • Join a spouse’s insurance plan: If your spouse isn’t on Medicare, whether this is due to their age or their work status, you can most likely be added to their insurance plan. This is an easy way to access dental insurance and is often an overlooked option. You and your spouse do not have to sign up for Medicare as soon as you turn 65, so take advantage of their great coverage while you can if they have it. 
  • Find a local clinic: Certain local clinics may offer low-cost dental services. These clinics offer help to people who cannot afford these services on their own. Some of these clinics will have income requirements, but others have no requirements. These clinics usually have very long lines and wait times for treatments, so plan accordingly if you decide to take advantage of one’s services.   
  • Find a local dental school: Dental schools usually offer most dental services at a low cost. Most schools have licensed dentists overseeing the dental students to make sure everything is being done correctly. This option is great for simple procedures and services such as cleanings and x-rays, but it may not be the best option for more complicated services. The students are learning so they may work slower, but it can be worth it if you don’t have insurance and you’re searching for a low-cost way to meet your dental care needs. Make sure that the dental school you’re visiting is accredited before you schedule your appointment.  

It’s important that you not only think about what your dental needs are now, but what your needs could possibly be in the future. Use your medical history to think about the future. Consider the type of dental work you’ve had done in the past and take your family’s dental history into account. 

Benzinga’s Best Dental Carriers for Seniors

Interested in learning more about your dental coverage options? Consider starting your search with a few of our favorite providers of dental insurance for seniors listed below. 

get started Call Now securely through UnitedHealthCare’s website
Best For
Cleaning + exams
N/A
1 Minute Review

Delta Dental is a dental insurance company with over 80 million members and a network of nearly 339,000 dentists nationwide. As the largest dental insurer in the U.S., Delta Dental offers coverage for individuals and families and small businesses and retirees. With over 60 years of experience, Delta Dental offers some of America’s best dental insurance plans.

Best For
  • Orthodontic procedures
  • Cleaning and exams
Pros
  • Nationwide coverage available
  • Multiple dental insurance options
  • Price matches discount providers
  • No waiting period for preventative treatments
Cons
  • Availability varies by state
get started Call Now securely through Ameritas’s website
Best For
Adult and child orthodontia benefits
N/A
1 Minute Review

Ameritas offers trusted health, dental and vision insurance plans. Find a provider in your area using America’s largest network.

Best For
  • Orthodontic benefits
  • People who have health or vision insurance with Ameritas
  • Large provider network
Pros
  • AM Best Rating A
  • Wide range of coverage options
  • Ortho coverage up to 50%
Cons
get started securely through Careington Dental’s website
Best For
No annual maximums
N/A
1 Minute Review

Careington Dental Insurance isn’t technically insurance — it’s a dental savings plan. Enrolling in a Careington plan allows you access to dental care from participating providers at a reduced cost. You’ll find a large network of participating dentists, immediate coverage and no age limits.

Best For
  • Affordable coverage
  • No annual maximums
Pros
  • Large network of participating dentists
  • Immediate coverage
Cons
  • Some dentists don’t participate
  • Fee schedule can be confusing
get started Call Now securely through Guardian Dental’s website
Best For
Young adults and families with children and teens
N/A
1 Minute Review

Guardian provides comprehensive dental insurance you can buy independently or through your employer. It covers basic and preventive care, as well as more advanced services like root canals, crowns, bridges and dentures. 

Guardian has an extensive network of more than 120,000 providers. It offers a range of plans so you can choose a plan that fits your budget and your dental needs. Guardian’s plans start at just over $8 per month. 

The plans that Guardian sells directly are PPOs, which means you can see dentists outside the network, but you’ll pay more than if you see an in-network dentist. Guardian also offers HMOs through employers. HMOs may not pay if you see an out-of-network dentist. 

Guardian also offers teledentistry, so you can consult with a dentist from home if you’re experiencing issues. 

While everyone should consider dental insurance, Guardian’s affordable plans are especially good for young adults who might have a limited budget and limited dental care needs. Guardian also offers plans with orthodontic care (braces) and regular, preventive service for families. 

Best For
  • Families with children and teens
  • Young adults
Pros
  • Teledentistry
  • Range of plan options
  • Affordable basic plan
Cons
  • Mobile app has limited functionality
get started securely through Renaissance – Dental’s website

Don’t assume that your dental care needs will be covered by Medicare Part A or B — under most circumstances, you won’t get coverage for these types of services. However, there are plenty of options that you can use to get dental insurance or make your dental care needs less expensive. 

If you do consider dental insurance from an independent dental insurance provider, we recommend getting a quote from at least 3 competing coverage providers. Knowing all of your options (and what’s covered on each choice) can help you rest with the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing you won’t need to pay for your dental care completely out-of-pocket. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q

Does Medicare have a dental plan for seniors?

1
Does Medicare have a dental plan for seniors?
asked
A
1

Medicare Parts A and B do not cover dental care for seniors in most circumstances. 

answered
Q

How do I get dental insurance with Medicare?

1
How do I get dental insurance with Medicare?
asked
A
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You may be able to find dental insurance by purchasing a Medicare Part C insurance plan. However, many seniors (especially those living on fixed incomes) find these plans to be prohibitively expensive.

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Dental Insurance Methodology

To determine the best dental insurance providers, we pored through all United States carriers. We winnowed the list by only including companies that have a wide coverage area and product offering. To further break down the list to the true best dental insurance providers, we gave weight to carriers that offer discounts, are available in all states and have multiple payment plan options.

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