Medicare Does Not Pay for Dental Care

Are you aware that Medicare does not pay for dental care? Yet your need for dental care will not end when you retire. This means that you need to plan for your post-retirement dental care.

Retirees actually have several options for paying fsm graphicstock cbi-0216-038 013 220614or dental care. You will likely want to explore the options available to you prior to retiring.

1.      The first option is to set aside money to pay for dental care. Some people are able to plan ahead realistically and save money accordingly. If this is how you plan to pay for your post-retirement dental care, it is wise to have an honest conversation with your dentist. Deciding how much money to save should be based on problems that are emerging, existing problems, and the unexpected costs that could arise. Your budget plan should also include an assessment of any issues that could be caused by medication or a long-term illness.

2.      You can purchase an add-on dental policy as part of your Medicare Supplement insurance. Many insurance companies offer this option. You can identify those plans with some research, a hpone call to your preferred Medicare supplement provider, or by visiting the website of The National Association of Dental Plans. You can also research some options through AARP.

3.      You always have the option of researching dental care insurance providers and buying a policy through one of these providers.

4.      Discount dental plans are another option. Most of these plans have a lower monthly premium cost that conventional dental insurance. These plans require you to choose a dentist in their network. Network dentists typically have agreed to provide some services for 10 -60 percent below their usual fees. When you visit this dentist, you will simply pay the discounted co-pay.

5.      You also have the option of obtaining a medical care charge card that will allow you to pay your dental bill over time at either no interest or an interest rate that is well below the rate on most credit cards.

You can plan for the cost of dental care needs after retirement with any of these options. In fact, you can combine them based on your income and your needs. Maintaining your dental health with insurance or savings can be managed despite the fact that Medicare does not pay for dental care.

The Calcium Conundrum

Calcium should be an important element in everyone’s diet. It is particularly important as we grow older. We need calcium to prevent bone loss or osteoporosis. Many people do not know that osteoporosis can affect the jaw bone. If this happens it could cause your teeth to become loose or even to fall out.

A recent study found that people who get all, or most, of thcouple-relaxing-indoors-smiling HFbxDpiCBo smeir calcium from supplements (instead of food) are more than twice as likely to have a heart attack. Health care providers recommend that adults need about 1,000 milligrams of calcium every day. So, if you should not use supplements, how do you get your daily allowance of calcium? Low-fat dairy is a good source of calcium and of other nutrients needed for bone strength. Typically, 1,000 mg of calcium can be found in about three cups of dairy per day. Some calcium can also come from vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, spinach, kale and Swiss chard.

Consuming the recommended amount of calcium each day is not the end of the story. You also need other nutrients like phosphorous. Vitamin D is essential, as well. It helps your body to absorb the calcium and carry it to the bone that supports your teeth. Ultimately, strong teeth need the nutrients supplied by a healthy and balanced diet. 

By Caroline A. Wallace, DDS, Complete Dental Care of Salem, VA

Why Did My Dentist Use a Toothpick during my exam?

Don't Dentists have an array of tools to use in an exam?

triangular toothpicks

Why would my dentist use a simple toothpick?

The short and simple answer is this: Using a toothpick is a proven method for assessing gum disease.


It is actually more trustworthy than pushing a probe into the gums – and it hurts less. Dentists have been using this method for five years of more. It is an effective test to assess inflammation and bleeding of the gums. This exam method uses a triangular toothpick, placed between teeth and rubbed back and forth four times. There is also an extra benefit: it helps to remove plaque.


In some cases, your Dentist might teach you how to perform the test and ask you to do so at home.

Acupuncture Can Reduce Dental Anxiety.

New research concludes that acupuncture helps to reduce dental related anxiety. In a patient-blinded randomized controlled investigation, researchers compared 182 patients. One group received true acupuncture at auricular points. The second group received sham acupuncture (non-related acupoints) and a third group did not receive acupuncture or any medical procedures for the treatment of anxiety. The researchers measured anxiety levels prior to getting acupuncture and 20 minutes after receiving acupuncture which was immediately prior to the dental work. Anxiety levels in the true acupuncture group reduced significantly and slightly in the sham acupuncture group. In the non-intervention group, anxiety increased.

The researchers concluded that auricular acupuncture is both minimally invasive and “effectively reduces state anxiety before dental treatment.” The researchers suggest that acupuncture may provide an option to patients suffering from anxiety prior to dental care

Death by Dentures?

Did George Washington's Famous Denture Do Him In?

Was the throat infection that took George Washington's life caused by colonies of bacteria that grew in his world-famous dentures?  By all reports, he was a very athletic, strapping man who was taller, larger, and stronger than the average countryman of his time.  So how is it that he became ill and died in only 3 days at the age of 67?

Washington suffered from both dental problems and various illnesses in his younger life.  He lost his first adult tooth at 22 years old.  By the time he became president in 1789, at the age of 57, he had only one tooth remaining despite daily brushing and the use of toothpaste and mouthwash.  At his inauguration he was wearing a full set of dentures that were attached to his final tooth.

Washington was treated by no fewer than 9 prominent dentists who practiced in colonial America.  The denture prepared for Washington had a base of hippopotamus ivory carved to fit his gums.  The upper denture had ivory teeth, and the lower plate consisted of human teeth fastened by gold pivots that screwed into the base.  The set was secured in Washington's mouth by spiral springs.  The upper and lower gold plates were connected by springs that pushed the upper and lower plates against the upper and lower ridges of his mouth to hold them in place.  Washington actually had to actively close his jaws tightly to make his teeth bite together.

Now we know much more about the connection between oral health and systemic health.  We know that bacteria in dentures can cause upper respiratory infections, cardio-endocarditis, intestinal infections, open wounds and other things.

On Thursday, December 12, 1799, Washington spent the day outside in the snow and freezing rain inspecting his estate, Mt. Vernon.  He ate his dinner that night in his wet clothing.  The next morning he complained of a severe sore throat.  Accounts now attribute the cause to quinsy, acute epiglottis, or possibly thrush.  Quinsy is a bacterial infection causing severe inflammation of the tonsil area, often leading to the formation of an abscess that may require surgery in the tonsil area.  Acute epiglottis is a bacterial infection around the epiglottis, which can cause severe air blockage, and thrush is a yeast infection that can develop in the throat or mouth.

Washington's condition worsened through the day until early Saturday morning, December 14, when he awoke Martha, his wife, telling her that he felt ill.  Although several physicians were summoned to his bedside, Washington died at 10 pm.
Where did these infections come from?  It is strongly suspected that the infection could have been harbored in Washington's dentures.

From Dentistry Today  April 2012

Page 27 of 29