When it comes to maintaining their oral health, seniors face unique challenges.
One issue is dental coverage. As people retire, many of them lose the dental coverage their jobs provided. Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people 65 or older, offers only limited dental benefits, and nearly half the seniors who receive Medicare have no dental coverage.
Not surprisingly, many seniors fail to visit the dentist consistently. Only about half of seniors 65 and older have visited a dentist in the past year, and nearly a quarter haven’t visited a dentist in the past five years. These numbers are even worse for Black and Hispanic seniors and those with lower incomes.
This situation is particularly dire because regular dental visits are critical for seniors. As we age, our mouth becomes more susceptible to a number of oral health issues, making proper dental care more vital than ever.
Here are some resources and information you can offer your retiring employees to help protect their dental health and keep them smiling.
Seniors face unique dental health risks
Oral health problems common among seniors include the following:
- Cavities. More than a quarter of people aged 65 or older have untreated tooth decay.
- Gum (periodontal) disease. About two-thirds of people 65 and older have some form of gum disease, which is the leading cause of tooth loss in seniors. Gum disease includes gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease caused by the bacteria found in plaque, and the more serious periodontitis, in which bacterial infection causes the gums and bone supporting the teeth to break down.
- Oral cancer. Cancers of the mouth, including oral and pharyngeal cancer, are most commonly diagnosed in seniors, with a median age at diagnosis of 64 years old.
- Tooth loss. More than 10% of people between 65 and 74 have lost all their teeth, and that number increases to nearly a quarter for people more than 75 years old.
- Dry mouth. Many of the prescription and over-the-counter medications seniors take can decrease saliva, which can lead to tooth decay. Saliva helps prevent tooth decay by neutralizing acids and rinsing away bacteria and food particles.
- Difficulty brushing and flossing. Older patients with physical impairments such as arthritis, or mental impairments such as dementia, may have difficulty brushing, flossing and maintaining their oral hygiene.
- Limited dentist access. Seniors may have difficulty visiting the dentist because of medical or mobility issues, or because they don’t access to transportation.
Your retiring employees don’t have to give up dental coverage
Just because your employees are nearing retirement doesn’t mean they can’t continue to take advantage of top-quality dental care. We offer several types of affordable, competitive individual plans to meet the needs of any senior. Here are some great options to share with your employees.
Our Smile On program provides individual dental plans for retirees, including Delta Dental PPO™ and DeltaCare® USA plans. These plans include the services seniors need most, including preventive care like routine cleanings and exams at no out-of-pocket cost.
- Our PPO plan offers two options: Premium and Basic. Our Premium option offers low out-of-pocket costs and coverage for procedures that many seniors need, such as crowns, dentures, denture repair and implants. The Basic plan offers less comprehensive coverage and a lower annual maximum than the Premium plan, but at a lower monthly premium.
- DeltaCare USA is our fixed copayment plan and offers low-cost preventive dental care and coverage for a broad range of services, including crowns, dentures and implants, at a more affordable price than either of our PPO plans.
For your employees who belong to (or plan to join) AARP, we offer the AARP® Dental Insurance Plan, administered by Delta Dental Insurance Company. Designed specifically for seniors, these individual plans offer comprehensive benefits and are endorsed by AARP. Like our individual plans, our AARP plans offer both PPO and DeltaCare USA options.
- PPO Plan A is our most comprehensive plan that includes low out-of-pocket costs, no-cost preventive care and no waiting period for fillings and root canals. It offers the highest coverage for services such as implants, crowns, dentures.
- PPO Plan B offers less comprehensive coverage for some services than PPO Plan A, but also features no waiting period for fillings and root canals and offers a lower monthly premium.
- The DeltaCare USA option offers quality dental benefits, fixed copays and no annual deductibles, waiting periods or maximums at a more affordable rate than either PPO plan. (This option isn’t available in every state.)
Your employees can enroll or get a quote online. They can also request a free information guide. And regardless of their AARP membership, your employees can speak to a licensed agent to enroll or just to ask questions at 866–583-2085. Hours are 7 am to 11 pm ET from Monday through Friday, and 9 am to 5 pm ET on Saturday.
Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP)
For uniformed services retirees and federal annuitants, we offer the Delta Dental Federal Employees Dental Program. This program offers a choice between two great plans to meet your employees’ needs:
- The High Plan option oﬀers greater coverage including adult orthodontics, an unlimited in-network annual maximum, and no deductible on any in-network services.
- The Standard Plan option oﬀers quality care at a lower premium, with an in-network maximum of $1,500 per person, and no waiting periods for any covered services.
Both plans feature 100% coverage for preventive care when plan members visit an in-network dentist. Your employees can find out more about these plans on our Federal Employees Dental Program website or speak directly to Customer Service by calling 1–855-410‑3255.
Veterans Affairs Dental Insurance Program (VADIP)
For veterans enrolled in VA Health Care, or civilians enrolled in the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA), we offer three plan options via VADIP:
- The Prime Plan option offers the greatest coverage including cleanings, x‑rays and oral exams for in-network dentists and an annual maximum of $3,000.
- The Comprehensive Plan covers the same procedures as the Prime Plan but at a slightly lower coverage percentage level, lower premium cost and an annual maximum of $1,500.
- The Enhanced Plan offers quality dental coverage excluding major restorative and prosthodontic services, has the lowest premium of all VADIP options and an annual maximum of $1,000.
All three plans feature 100% coverage for preventive care when plan members visit an in-network dentist. Your employees can find out more about these plans on our Veterans Affairs Dental Insurance Program website.
Delta Dental’s commitment to seniors
We’re dedicated to protecting seniors’ oral health. Through our Senior Oral Health Program, we partner with community-based coalitions to focus on improving access to dental care, particularly for those seniors in marginalized communities. Our goals are to reduce oral care disparities, address the causes of poor oral health among older adults, particularly those living in poverty, and create a replicable model for oral health solutions.
After the time and effort your employees have dedicated to your company, why not help ensure that their smiles remain bright and healthy long into retirement? Support your employees by giving them the resources to protect their teeth for years to come.