5 ways dental issues can impact the health of older adults

When you are considering Medicare coverage, particularly during annual enrollment season, it’s important to keep your dental care in mind. This is especially true with older adults, who may be more at risk of health conditions if oral health issues are left untreated. 

Consider these dental health issues currently seen among older adults:

  1. Untreated tooth decay. Nearly all adults (96%) aged 65 years or older have had a cavity, and 1 in 5 have untreated tooth decay.
  2. Gum disease. About 2 in 3 (68%) adults aged 65 years or older have gum disease.
  3. Cognitive decline and dental health. Some older adults with cognitive impairment can find good oral care challenging.
  4. Oral health as an early warning system. Some dental problems can be a side effect of certain medications or chronic conditions.
  5. Oral cancer. Cancers of the mouth are primarily diagnosed in older adults, with the average age at diagnosis being 62.

Having a plan to help manage dental health can help address issues before they lead to other health problems. In a recent survey among older adults, while more than half of respondents (55%) said they see their dentists twice a year, and would give their overall oral health a positive score, more than a third rate their oral health as average.

In addition, more than two-thirds say their dental benefit isn’t delivering on the range of coverage it provides, despite a majority of survey respondents who say that is the most important aspect of a dental plan. More telling, nearly 80% say they’re surprised by services that aren’t covered.

“Medicare eligibles deserve better plan options that provide value, simplicity and comprehensive dental care they can afford,” said Bobby Hunter, Senior Vice President of Medicare Advantage Product & Experience at UnitedHealthcare.

To help provide the coverage that older adults may be looking for, UnitedHealthcare® will offer individual Medicare Advantage plan members an enhanced comprehensive dental benefit with one simplified coverage level starting in 2023. This enhanced benefit covers preventive and comprehensive dental care including cleanings, fillings, extractions, dentures and implants, and has no out-of-pocket costs up to the annual coverage limit on nearly all individual Medicare Advantage plans when using network providers.

Members will have access to the largest national Medicare Advantage dental network, and all plans with the enhanced comprehensive dental benefit will allow members to see out-of-network dentists and receive the coverage they need.

With UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans offering straightforward, expanded access for its members with enhanced dental care, this could mean a lot of healthy smiles for older adults on the horizon.

To learn more about dental care with Medicare Advantage plans, visit uhc.com/medicare.

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