Want your teeth in retirement?


Neither Medicare nor most medigap policies will cover dental work.† This is one of the big surprises of newly retired people.† Unfortunately, itís the older people who usually need the most dental care.† Need a root canal?† Youíll likely pay around a thousand dollarsóup front.† Add a crown?† Double that. †Want an implant?† Quadruple the cost. †Even good teeth need professional cleaning a couple of times a year.† More money.† Then there are X-rays.†


Dental bills will cost you much more than the uninsured part of doctor bills.† Whatís the alternative?† The answer is unpleasant.† Itís pulling bad teeth.† Pull enough and you have to get dentures.


Want to know how many people over the age of 65 have had ALL of their teeth pulled?† Itís over 25%.† The percentage is even more for those in the poverty income level.† About 40% of them have no teeth.*


Whatís the message?† Take care of your teeth when you are young and throughout your life to reduce serious problems.† If you are prone to dental problems, expect to pay big money to avoid dentures.


Consider getting dental insurance.† If your employer provides dental insurance, get as much work done as possible before you retire.† AARP has a dental policy for about $60 a month.† Good plans have a maximum reimbursement amount of around $1,500, but that wonít cover major work such as an implant.


With or without dental insurance, set aside some retirement reserve for dental care.† †If you have a dental plan, a retirement reserve of $5,000 per spouse for dental work might be a ballpark number.† Without insurance, consider $20,000 for a reserve to hopefully cover your retirement years.


Itís better to be able to smile and eat apples or corn-on-the-cob than to put those false teeth by the bed every night.


Bud Hebeler




* Center for Disease Control and Prevention:† http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis.htm