This article was updated on March 5, 2021.
Dentures are a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues, like gums.
Two types of dentures
Complete dentures can be either “conventional” or “immediate.”
- “Conventional” dentures are made as soon as the teeth have been removed and the gum tissue has begun to heal. The appliance can be ready for placement in the mouth about 8 to twelve weeks after the teeth have been removed.
- “Immediate” dentures are made in advance and can be positioned as soon as the teeth are removed. This denture option is best for those who do not want to leave the dentist without teeth.
A partial denture is removable and usually consists of replacement teeth attached to a gum-colored plastic base. Oftentimes they are connected to the mouth via a metal framework. Partial dentures are used when at least one natural tooth remains in the mouth. Partial dentures are a more natural-looking option of an appliance.
Medicare Part C coverage of dentures
Some Medicare Advantage plans may cover additional benefits that Original Medicare does not cover. Also known as Medicare Part C, Medicare Advantage plans offer an alternative way to get your Original Medicare benefits.
Medicare Advantage plans are available through private insurance companies that are approved by Medicare and are required to offer at least the same level of coverage as the federal program. However, many Medicare Advantage plans offer coverage beyond Original Medicare, which may include routine dental services and dentures. Since coverage can vary from plan to plan, always double-check with the Medicare Advantage plan you’re considering to see if a specific benefit is included.
Your options will depend on what coverage is offered in your state under Medicaid. PACE will provide all services covered under Medicare and Medicaid.
Alternative financial aid
If you don’t have Medicare Advantage or aren’t eligible for PACE, there are other options for helping with costs. The following are some of the options that may be available to you.
Medicaid: Dentures, along with some dental care, may be covered by Medicaid in your state. Medicaid programs are state-run, and individual states are free to expand their programs beyond federal guidelines, which may allow you to have the coverage you need.
Note: Dental care and dentures are optional benefits, which means that not every state covers them. If you have limited income and qualify for Medicaid, contact your state’s Medicaid program to learn if your dentures are covered.
Dental insurance: Many major medical health plans include dental coverage, but stand-alone dental plans may also be available in your state. These plans typically cover oral exams, cleanings, X-rays, fillings, and other preventive dental care. Plans may also help with some of the costs for oral surgery, implants, and dentures. Benefits will vary by plan, so check with the specific plan for more details. You can start browsing dental plans in your location using eHealth’s plan finder tool.
Dental schools: Some dental schools may run low-cost clinics as a way to give back to the community and train dentists. Find dental schools near you to see if programs are available in your location.
Community health clinics: Local community centers may provide dental services for low-income individuals. The National Council on Aging and Eldercare Locator can help you find resources for seniors in your area.
Dental Lifeline Network: This program provides free dental services to vulnerable groups who can’t afford care, including seniors and disabled individuals. Find out if you’re eligible and look up the program for your state by visiting the Dental Lifeline Network website.
Denture care tips
Because of the expense of dentures, how well you treat them will determine their life and any additional expense in upkeep. Some people assume that caring for dentures is a lot of work, but it’s really not much different than caring for your own teeth. You can help maintain excellent oral hygiene by adding these steps to your oral daily routines.
Brush your teeth & your dentures
Dentures can develop tartar and bacteria buildup, just as natural teeth do. This means you need to make an effort to brush them as you brush natural teeth, at least twice a day.
First, rinse with warm water. Then gently clean them with a toothbrush brush and nonabrasive denture cleanser. If you use denture adhesive, be sure to clean the grooves that fit against your gums. Always remember to rinse the dentures thoroughly before placing them back in for wear.
Soak dentures a denture cleanser overnight
After you brush your dentures before bed, leave them to soak in a denture cleanser. This will remove any extra food and plaque that may have been neglected while brushing. Soaking your dentures overnight, like most retainers, helps prevent bad breath, but also keeps your dentures from drying out.
Do not sleep in your dentures
Not sleeping in your dentures is a good way to give your mouth a rest and provide time for them to soak in a denture cleanser while you don’t need them. It also provides time for healing if your dentures are causing any irritation or soreness, which is common at first. Warm water is recommended to soak dentures in, not hot water. Warm water will prevent them from losing their shape, as they are formed to your mouth.
Avoid sticky and hard foods
Sticky foods can get stuck to dentures, or loosen your dentures, just as they can to natural teeth. This can cause discomfort and discoloration. Harder foods, like candy or ice cubes, can damage your dentures. People with dentures should avoid eating hard candy, popcorn, nuts, or anything that can break into small pieces and lodge between your dentures and gums, for this easily causes infections.
Practice good oral hygiene
Brush your gums, mouth, cheeks, and tongue with a soft brush and toothpaste, just as you would with natural teeth, before putting your dentures in each morning. Maintaining good oral hygiene will help prevent gum irritation and bad breath.
Visit your dentist
Even with dentures, you need to go to your regular checkups at the dentist. Your dentist may be able to spot signs of irritation or infection before you do. Plus, just as you get your teeth cleaned at the dentist, you can always ask to have your dentures professionally cleaned during your visit.
Dentures provide several benefits; not only can they help you enjoy a healthy, well-balanced diet, but they may even provide a boost to your self-esteem. Remember that the right amount of care can prevent any additional expense to a financial investment like dentures.
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