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Best Dental Insurance For Disabled Individuals

Written by: Jody Adams
Last updated: January 31, 2024

Maintaining good oral health to be healthy and happy in general is important. Despite the universal need for oral care, access to affordable oral healthcare and dental treatment is not equitable, especially regarding dental for disabled people. Everyone must have access to dental care. 

This care may need to be provided for disabled individuals through special facilities or services. There may be difficulties getting into the dental chair for people with disabilities. Some dentists may not be willing or able to provide special accommodations to patients with disabilities.

Around 54 million Americans live with a disability, according to SIPP data. People with disabilities, especially seniors, should have dental insurance. By 2027, the insurance market is projected to reach $237.11 billion, up from $152.26 billion in 2019. Dental insurance policies cover preventive dental care and treatment of dental problems.

Dental insurance will help pay for any possibly expensive repairs if a dental emergency arises. Poor oral hygiene leads to other complex dental issues which the right dental care could have avoided. You can prevent gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath by maintaining good dental health. Maintaining a healthy diet and oral hygiene cannot be overstated when achieving and maintaining physical and emotional wellness.

Many people tend to underestimate the importance of dental insurance for disabled individuals, leading to poor oral hygiene and more dental issues they can't afford in the long run. Good oral and dental hygiene can help prevent bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease—and can help you keep your teeth as you age. 

Establishing good oral hygiene and dietary habits has been proven essential to achieving and maintaining overall physical and emotional well-being. For disabled people who cannot afford their children's education, read our blog post on scholarships for children with disabled people.

What To Know About Special Care Dentistry

What To Know About Special Care Dentistry

Every person has experienced hardship and difficulty at some point in their life. It may be harder and more frequently for people with disabilities to get around obstacles. The US healthcare system is complex and sometimes has many restrictions regarding eligibility for various programs. 

Many people with disabilities are left without medical coverage, while others have to pay for their healthcare and have access to limited healthcare benefits. Maintaining a regular flossing schedule is essential for preventing gum disease and periodontitis. When flossing, bacteria can be removed from the spaces between your teeth that are hard to reach. 

This way, bacteria can't multiply and cause more serious issues. Floss daily between your teeth to remove dental plaque, and brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. Keep your mouth healthy by using fluoride-containing toothpaste and mouthwash. Cavities can be prevented with fluoride. Using fluoride and regular brushing and flossing will give you a better chance of protecting your teeth.

Besides bad breath, this can lead to several oral health issues. After brushing your teeth, gently clean your tongue. If you are a smoker, it is important that you quit smoking since it damages a person's immune system, causing the body to have difficulty healing tissues. Smoking is considered a risk factor for gum disease by the CDC.

Unique approaches and dental practices need to be considered when dealing with the following groups of people.

Elderly People

Taking care of aging patients requires dentists to prepare. Dental professionals must consider whether they are prepared to provide proper care to their older patients as the US population ages. 

Dental care for elderly people is challenging due to their limited mobility; they need processes and treatments to be explained in detail and treatment plans that do not mandate repeat visits. 

The following tips are helpful when providing dental care to elderly people.

  • Make eye contact with the patient, and unmask whenever possible.
  • Using suction units, handpieces, and other external noise sources should be eliminated.
  • Be distinct, not louder, and speak at a lower pitch.
  • Written communications, including treatment plans, costs, and other important information, should support verbal messages. A 12-point font should be used in written or typed communication.
  • You should avoid jargon or overly technical terms and speak in everyday language.
  • It is important to respect the dignity and pride of the patient. Patient dignity is important for elderly adults.

Down Syndrome

People with Down syndrome have small-sized teeth that can result in spaces between them. Their upper jaws are also typically small. Because there is no room for permanent teeth to come in, this can cause crowding of the teeth. The following tips can come in handy when dealing with patients with Down syndrome seeking dental care.

  • Provide dental procedures without compromising pleasantness, cheerfulness, affection, or cooperation.
  • Slow down the pace of your work.
  • Regular dental visits to monitor oral hygiene should be emphasized as part of preventive dental care.
  • Moderately apprehensive children may benefit from light sedation and immobilization.
  • Anesthesia may be required for patients with severe resistance.

Autism

Effective support strategies tailored to the individual are needed to provide good oral health care for autistic patients. People with autism may have difficulty accessing appropriate dental care due to their complex characteristics.

Families often face challenges when providing adequate dental care for their autistic children. 

Autistic patients face various barriers to accessing quality dental care, including locating dental providers with the necessary skills and abilities, affording dental care, and being anxious about dentistry. To ensure that people with autism receive the best dental care, you should follow the following tips.

  • A meeting should be arranged between the patient's caregivers and the doctor before the actual appointment.
  • To make the dental experience more comfortable for autistic individuals, dental healthcare professionals engage their parents or relatives. 
  • Autistic patients require special treatment, which dentists should educate all of their staff about.
  • The patient should be desensitized to the office and staff by scheduling an appointment.

Limited Mobility

It is more than just transportation or parking issues that prevent people with limited mobility from receiving accessible dental care. People with disabilities often have difficulty accessing dental care due to inaccessible exam equipment, small or narrow offices, inadequate support, and a negative attitude toward disabilities. 

Transferring from a dental chair to a wheelchair may require assistance for patients with limited mobility. Providing solutions for transfers is the responsibility of dental practices if caregivers or family members cannot assist. Dental practices must provide wheelchair access to their offices for such patients.

Mentally And Medically Compromised Individuals

Patients with mental or medical difficulties require special dental care that differs from what is routinely provided. Mentally and medically challenged people to contract gum disease and cavities more than regular people. 

Those with mental or intellectual disabilities may require assistance visiting the dentist because they might have difficulty understanding dental care precautions and practices. It may be necessary for these individuals to be accompanied by a caregiver or case manager or to schedule shorter appointments during a balanced state.

How Do Fluoride Treatments Work For Disabled Individuals?

For many years, fluoride has been a natural remedy for preventing tooth decay. Tooth decay results from the combined action of bacteria and sugar that erodes the tooth's enamel. By bonding to weakened areas of the tooth enamel, fluoride strengthens teeth through demineralization.

Dentists provide professional fluoride treatments in the form of a highly concentrated rinse, foam, gel, or varnish. The treatment may be applied with a swab, brush, tray, or mouthwash. These treatments have much more fluoride than your water or toothpaste. They only take a few minutes to apply. You may be asked to avoid eating or drinking 30 minutes after the treatment so the fluoride can be fully absorbed.

If you are struggling to pay rent, read our blog post on rental assistance for disabled people on social security.


Low Cost Dental Care For People With Disabilities

Low Cost Dental Care For People With Disabilities

You may have difficulty undergoing dental surgery if you have a disability. To ensure you are fully able to access dental care and treatment, you have a variety of options. You may need special features, extra time, or care for dental treatment because of a disability or medical condition. People with disabilities have the following options for obtaining low-cost dental care.

Medicare

Medicare does not cover the entire cost of dental treatment or does not provide coverage for all dental procedures. Under its current coverage policy, Medicare pays for dental services only if the dental procedure is an essential part of a procedure that is covered by Medicare.

These include reconstructing the jaw that is injured as a result of an accident or teeth extractions that are done to prepare for radiation therapy to treat neoplasms in the jaw. If certain conditions are met, Medicare will also cover dental examinations before a kidney transplant or valve replacement for disabled individuals.

Medicaid

Medicaid-covered children with disabilities must receive dental benefits from the states. Dental benefits for adults are provided at the discretion of the states. EPSDT benefits include dental care (such as pain relief, infection treatment, and teeth restoration) for all disabled children enrolled in Medicaid. 

For disabled adult Medicaid enrollees, states can determine what dental benefits they should provide. Less than half of the states currently provide comprehensive dental care to disabled adults, despite most states providing emergency dental services.

CHIP

Keeping your disabled child's dental health in check is one of the best ways to prevent tooth decay. CHIP is a program that reimburses families earning too much to qualify for Medicaid to care for disabled children. CHIP dental plans include routine dental care, fillings, crowns, and root canals.

Dental Schools

The majority of disabled people do not have dental insurance or cannot afford out-of-pocket payments for dental care, which is the main reason why they don't receive regular dental care. Many dental schools provide cheap or free dental care for disabled individuals. 

Student dentists provide dental care at reduced rates in clinics run by dental schools. The dental students, in return, gain experience in treating actual patients. 

Clinical Trials

Most dentists are happy to treat patients with special dental needs; however, some disabled patients have difficulty getting the surgery, so adding the cost to the burden makes it harder for them to get dental treatment. Risk management is mandatory when running trials for dental problems. The best approach is to find clinics that offer free dental implants in trials on your dental problem.

State and Local Resources

There may be free or reduced-cost dental care programs available in your area through your state's or local health department. Find out about financial assistance programs your local or state health department offers. For the number to call, consult the telephone book in your area.

United Way

Hundreds of United Way clinics in the US offer free dental care. If you live in a community with a United Way, they may be able to refer you to free dental services or at a reduced cost. Click on the 'Find Your United Way' button in the top right corner of the United Way website to find out where the organization is located. A dental professional will be able to direct you to services that are free or low-cost in your area.


Frequently Asked Questions

Dental insurance for disabled individuals is difficult to find since dentists and support staff must deal with disabled individuals with greater care and attention. With dental care and disabled people, the following questions are commonly asked.

How likely is it that you'll require disability insurance?

The SSA estimates that nearly 25% of people who are 20 years old will be disabled for three months or more before age 67. An illness or injury can leave you unable to work, so disability insurance covers some of your income. You are more likely to be approved for a policy if you are younger and healthier. The cost of premiums increases as you get older.

How am I going to pay for dental work?

You may obtain free or low-cost dental treatment if you cannot pay for dental work out of pocket and have no dental insurance. On the one hand, various government programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP provide different options. On the other hand, free dental clinics, free dental treatment at dental schools, and clinical trials offer free or discounted dental care.

Can a person apply for disability benefits if they have terrible teeth?

It is not possible for someone who has terrible teeth to apply for disability benefits. An individual with a disability is unable to gainfully engage in work, according to the Social Security Administration. Disability benefits do not apply to bad teeth, since they do not fall under that definition.

Individuals with disabilities have few options when it comes to dental insurance. Special arrangements are often required for disabled individuals, such as people with limited mobility, who require special treatment and physical arrangements.

Nevertheless, disabled people can qualify for free or low-cost dental care if they know where to look. People with disabilities can access free dental clinics and clinical trials through dental schools, government programs like Medicaid and Medicare, and private companies.

Check out the rest of the Gov-Relations resources for more information on government and private assistance programs that can help you. Explore our resources at Gov-Relations for more information on government and private assistance programs that can help you. 

Want to know more about dental for disabled individuals? Check out our article today to learn more.

If you are on a pension, read our article on do pensioners get free dental treatment.

Jody Adams
Jody Adams is an accomplished editor-in-chief with a deep understanding of social care and government benefits issues. With a background in journalism and a master's degree in Public Policy, Jody has spent her career shaping the narrative around social policies and their impact on society. She has worked with renowned publications, effectively bridging the gap between complex policy analysis and public understanding. Jody's editorial expertise ensures that vital information on social care and government benefits reaches a broad audience, empowering individuals to make informed decisions.
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