Whether you’re 15, 35 or 65, it’s important to keep your teeth healthy. After all, your oral health plays a big role in your overall health. Having dental insurance can make all the difference, especially for seniors. And since around 96% of American seniors have Medicare, knowing what dental services are and aren’t covered is critical.

Original Medicare (the coverage you get from the government) only covers dental care that’s needed to treat an illness or injury. This means that the dental work you’re probably most interested in – regular checkups, cleanings, fillings and crowns – is not covered by Original Medicare.

However, you have several options for how to get your dental coverage. You can either find a private Medicare plan that offers preventive or comprehensive dental coverage, get on a spouse’s plan or buy a stand-alone dental plan. Let’s look at each option and what to consider when deciding what works for you and your teeth.

Option 1: Get dental coverage through a private Medicare plan

A private Medicare plan is one you can buy directly from a health insurance company. These plans cover the same services Original Medicare does alongside additional benefits, like vision, hearing and dental. However, coverage will vary, so before you enroll, make sure the plan you’re considering meets your dental health needs.

Common Medicare dental benefits included in private plans

Which dental benefits are included in a private plan depend on which type of Medicare plan you choose. Common options include:

  • Medicare Supplement/Medigap plans: These plans offer the same dental coverage as Original Medicare, so if you want more coverage, you’ll need to look for a stand-alone dental plan.
  • Medicare Advantage and Medicare Cost plans: These plans offer the same dental coverage as Original Medicare, but many include additional preventive or comprehensive benefits, so you won’t have to pay extra for them. However, they may also offer optional coverage that you can buy for an additional premium.

Preventive and comprehensive coverage: What’s the difference?

When you’re looking at plans, it’s important to understand the differences between preventive and comprehensive coverage.

  • Preventive dental coverage usually includes oral exams, regular teeth cleaning and routine X-rays. This type of coverage doesn’t include procedures like dentures, crowns or fillings.
  • Comprehensive dental coverage may include things like regular checkups, dentures, crowns and fillings, to name a few.

Live in Minnesota or Wisconsin? Find out about the supplemental dental coverage available with HealthPartners Medicare plans.

Option 2: Get dental coverage through a stand-alone dental plan

Depending on where you live, you may be able to buy a stand-alone dental insurance plan. Usually offered through the health insurance marketplace, these plans can provide you with additional types of coverage, such as dental, that aren’t included in your Medicare plan.

If you choose this path, be sure to:

  • Check the plan’s network to make sure your dentist is covered.
  • Compare the level of coverage between plans – even plans offered by the same insurance company can vary.
  • Take a close look at the coverage details to see if there are waiting periods for the services you’re most interested in.

Live in Minnesota or Wisconsin? Find out about stand-alone HealthPartners senior dental plans.

Option 3: Get dental coverage through your spouse’s dental plan

This may be a viable option if one spouse is still working and is covered by an employer group dental plan. It’s worth looking into as this tends to fall under more uncommon coverage situations. However, if both spouses are on Medicare, you’ll have to get separate dental coverage.

If you’re unclear about which option is best for you, get connected with a Medicare expert, such as a broker or Medicare insurance sales rep. They’ll be able to walk you through your best plan for keeping your smile healthy and bright.