Dentures for the Elderly

Dentures are removable teeth and many seniors have either partial or full dentures. If you are at the stage in your dental life where you need dentures, this article provides answers to some of the more important questions seniors have about getting dentures.

What are Dentures?

Dentures are false teeth. They are the original tool that people can use to replace lost teeth. They are removable and come either as a full set or a partial plate. A full set of dentures tend to mean a complete upper and lower plate. A partial plate replaces only some of the teeth either in the upper row of teeth or the bottom row of teeth.

Dentures are different from implants which are not removable. Implants are made from several pieces whereas dentures are a single, molded piece of plastic that does a good job of imitating the natural look of teeth.

What Types of Dentures are There?

There are two types of dentures. Those are:

  • Partial Dentures – Those that replace either a few missing teeth and work sort of like a removable bridge. The difference between a partial denture and a bridge is that you can remove dentures, bridges are affixed to the remaining teeth. A bridge is not removable.
  • Full Denture Implants– Full dentures can mean one of two things. First, a full denture is a plate of false teeth that represent either all of the teeth of the bottom jar or upper palate. A full set of dentures can also mean both the bottom and top plate and is common for people who have had all of their teeth pulled.

How Much Do Dentures Cost?

There is a wide range of costs associated with dentures. At the higher end of the spectrum, a single full plate might cost as much as $5,000 or they may cost only a few hundred dollars. The difference in pricing has a lot to do with the amount of work that is needed. If you already have dentures and you break a plate, then the replacement cost is relatively cheap in comparison to getting dentures for the first time. A portion of the cost is the removal of your teeth.

So the answer is highly subjective and very dependent upon the condition of senior's mouth and the amount of work that needs to be done.

How Do I Pay for Dentures?

If you are on Medicare or Medicaid, expect to pay for dentures out of pocket as both governmental plans will not pay for dentures. There are some Medicare Part C plans that will cover some dental procedures. Medicare Part A might cover a portion of the medical preparation work if the work is required for a health reason, otherwise, Medicare Part A or Part B will not help. Medicare Part C is the list of supplement plans that replace Medicare Part A and Part B with private sector insurance plans.

Dental insurance might also cover part of the cost of getting dentures. However, it is important to check with your dental insurance because many plans have a limiting amount that they pay per year or per procedure.

Expect to pay for the majority of the cost of dentures out of pocket. If you are planning to have dentures look also at the time frame. You might consider getting most of the prep work done at the end of the year and your dentures at the beginning of the next year so that you can capture more of the expense under dental insurance. That trick does not always work and insurance companies define a calendar year differently. So make sure that you understand what is covered and when things change.

What Denture Options Exist for Low-Income Seniors?

If you are a low-income senior, there are options available that can sometimes help cover the cost of dentures. One of those is local or national charities. There are several charities or government programs that help a variety of people who are low-income and who are medically at risk.

  • Governmental Programs – One of those is PACE – Program All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, which is a government program under the Medicaid umbrella. Learn More about PACE – Program All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly
  • Dental Schools – Another option is to schedule your denture procedure at a dental school. Many offer quality dental services at a fraction of the cost. You have to agree to let students do the work, but they are qualified to provide dental care and they work under the supervision of a dentist.

There are other programs available some on the local level, such as through churches or local charities and others through programs that work on the national level.

Where Can I Get Dentures Near Me?

If you have a regular dentist, check with them first. They may not provide dental services for dentures, but they may have recommendations. It is also a good idea to get a few estimates for dentures. Not all dental offices charge the same rates and some take one form of insurance but not another.

If you have access to the internet, you can search for dentists in your area who offer denture services.

Ask your friends. Many have dentures and will likely give you a recommendation based on their experience. You can also ask your local senior center, as they might know about local programs that offer discounts on dentures or charities that might help cover the expense.