Your Teeth in Retirement

Braces aren’t just for adolescents in middle school anymore.  In fact, there is a trend among older adults to correct their teeth with braces, just like their grandchildren.  Is this trend just for vanity’s sake or is it something more?

Seniors Are Choosing Adult Braces

There are many reasons other than pure vanity that spur seniors to don braces:  increased self-confidence, higher quality of life, overall improved health, and improvements in technology.

Increase in Self Confidence

A recent study conducted by the American Association of Orthodontics found that adults who underwent orthodontic treatments had a significant improvement in their personal and professional lives.  With 75 percent of adults reporting improvements to both career and personal relationships after becoming fitted with adult braces, it is no wonder that 9 out of 10 adults would recommend adult braces to their friends and family.

Higher Quality of Life

With an increase in self-confidence comes a healthier social life.  Becoming more active, enjoying friends and family, and moving up the career ladder all lead to a higher quality of life.  If a person is enjoying their life more due to becoming fitted with adult braces, then they automatically have a higher quality of life.

Improvement in Overall Health

While some opt for braces for purely cosmetic reasons, crowded or overlapping teeth can be difficult to keep clean.  With this problem, tooth decay and gingivitis are more prevalent and can lead to cardiac issues.  When teeth are not properly aligned, chewing and swallowing food can become a problem.  Facial muscles can become painful when teeth are not properly aligned and misaligned teeth can cause some sounds or words to be difficult to pronounce.

Improvements in Technology

In the last few decades, there have been significant improvements in adult braces and orthodontic treatments.  Many adults and seniors shied away from braces due to the awkward metal braces that would be embarrassing in public, but adult braces now come in many different materials such as Invisalign retainers that are clear or white ceramic braces.  Braces that are attached to the inside of the teeth are also an option.  The latter is a popular option for seniors because of their invisibility to onlookers.

Unfortunately, many seniors who have not planned for these types of expenses during retirement find that they have to choose between needed dental products and services.  If there are no pressing issues, many seniors often neglect their dental care.  Dental care is not included in Medicare so it may be seen as a luxury to some.  Paying out-of-pocket for something that only adds, as they see it, to a person’s cosmetic look, is not appealing to many seniors on a tight budget.

Dental Care is Important for Seniors

Oral health is important at any age, but especially for seniors.  Keeping a person’s natural teeth and controlling bad breath are just a few of the many important reasons for good oral health.  If teeth and gums are not protected, dangerous infections can spread from the mouth to vital organs such as the heart, lungs, and brain.  If an older individual has a compromised immune system, to begin with, failing to protect their teeth can have serious and deadly consequences.

With a regular visit to a dental professional, serious health problems such as high blood pressure, the risk of stroke, and cancer can be identified.  A dentist is trained to recognize signs and symptoms of more serious health issues that can occur on the gums, tongue, and other soft tissues of the mouth.  For seniors who are prone to serious health conditions.  Therefore, finding ways to save on dental care for retirement is vital for all seniors.

Saving on Dental Care in Retirement

Before deciding to skip investing in their oral health, seniors should consider these three practical ways to save on dental care:  prioritize self-care, keeping two cleanings per year, and using a dental discount card.

Prioritize Self-Care

Proper self-care habits such as regular brushing and flossing is one of the best ways to ultimately save on dental care.  For a person who takes good care of their teeth and gums daily, there will be less unexpected and painful surprise that require an emergency trip to the dentist.  The good dental care habits to follow include:

  • Brush for two minutes, two times a day, using a high-quality toothpaste and soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Floss at least once, if not twice, daily
  • Rinse routinely with a mouthwash that has antibacterial properties

Semiannual Dental Exams and Cleanings

If a person on a tight budget is not experiencing acute dental problems, they may forgo the twice yearly dental cleaning and exam.  However, as tempting as this may seem, saving money by neglecting dental checkups is not worth the risk.  Even if there is nothing obviously wrong with a senior’s teeth or gums, having a professional clean and examine their mouth is key to catching underlying issues that form when one is unaware.  In order to not skip the semiannual cleaning and exam, make a budget for them ahead of time and mark them on a calendar so that the expense does not creep up and become a burden.

Dental Discount Cards

For many seniors, Medicare is their only health insurance or the one that they rely on the most.  Dental care is not covered under Medicare.  Since many seniors live on fixed incomes, a dental discount card offers savings from 20% to 50% off of retail costs related to dental care.  Many of these cards can be purchased for less than $10 per month.  

Staying healthy should be one of the most important goals during the retirement years.  Many retirees have worked hard to get there, so making sure that they keep, maintain, and improve their oral health is vital.  These same retirees are also opting for adult braces to improve their appearance, boost their self-confidence, and improve their overall health.  Being aware of the many important reasons to maintain and budget for oral checkups and services is the first step in enjoying a retirement full of good health and big smiles. 

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