Did you know that your oral health affects your overall wellness? According to several studies, oral health ― particularly gum disease ― is linked to chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
To many people, a dental visit is about getting their teeth cleaned, having a tooth pulled, or getting a filling. However, a dental visit is not just about teeth. It's also about your overall health. What goes on in your mouth can affect the rest of your body ― and what goes on in your body also can have an effect on your mouth.
That's why it's so important to see your dentist regularly. It might be one of the best defenses against illness. Gum disease, tooth decay, and poor-fitting dentures are just a few of the dental concerns of people age 65 and older. Yet only 64 percent of seniors visit the dentist regularly, on average.
Why so few? Seniors often need costlier treatments to maintain and restore their dental health. So how can you take care of your oral health without breaking the bank? A Medicare Advantage plan may be able to help.
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Smile, you have options for dental coverage
Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) may pay for dental services that are medically necessary. However, it doesn't cover routine dental visits, teeth cleanings, fillings, dentures, or most tooth extractions.
The good news is that Medicare Advantage and some stand-alone plans may offer dental benefits. It all depends on the plan you choose. This is one of the many perks of getting a Medicare Advantage plan. You may be able to get dental, vision, and hearing benefits all wrapped up in one plan.
Dental health isn't separate from general health
It's all connected. You can take important steps at home to keep your mouth healthy:
- Brush your teeth for about two minutes each time you brush. This helps to make sure you're cleaning all your teeth.
- Brush at least twice a day.
- Use a toothbrush with soft bristles.
- Floss once a day. Flossing cleans away plaque and bits of food from between your teeth and below the gum line. It gets to places your brush can't reach.
- Ask your dentist if you should have a fluoride rinse to help prevent decay.
- If you wear dentures, clean them every day. Be sure to remove stains and plaque that may build up and irritate your gums. Take your dentures out when you sleep to help your gums stay healthy.
Prevention is really the best medicine. So make sure you're actively taking care of your mouth. And remember that a Medicare Advantage plan may be able to help cover your dental costs.
Amy Capomaccio is a health care writer at Aetna with experience in senior wellness, Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial health care. When she's not practicing new mindfulness techniques, Amy is spending time outdoors and traveling. Amy hails from Wakefield, MA and has a degree in Advertising and Public Relations from the University of Tampa.
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