Deciding to have your teeth replaced with new dentures as a senior citizen can be complicated by the cost of dental procedures and confusion about the range of options available.
False teeth is the term used for teeth that are removable. There is also a range of denture options that are permanently cemented, and therefore not removable, including crowns, veneers, bridges and implants.
This article will outline some of the more common denture options, the cost of false teeth in Australia, insurance options and other options for financing dentures.
When do I need dentures?
Key indicators that you need to visit your dentist to discuss new dentures include:
- Chronic toothaches - can be a sign of decay that is impacting the nerves in the centre of a tooth
- Swollen, tender or bleeding gums - can be a sign of gingivitis or periodontal disease. Gum diseases can lead to bone loss, teeth loss and possible dentures if left unattended
- Missing teeth - if you are missing one or more teeth, and this is negatively impacting your eating
- Teeth are loose or shifting - loose teeth can be a sign of gum disease
- Struggle to eat certain foods - you have trouble eating certain foods because of a cracked tooth, missing teeth, or experience general discomfort eating
Common false teeth options
Complete Dentures - this is the option to consider when all teeth are missing and comes in two varieties: ‘conventional dentures’ and ‘immediate dentures’. Conventional dentures are made after teeth have been removed and the gums have begun to heal - which is usually 8-12 weeks after the teeth have been removed. Immediate dentures are used as soon as teeth are removed, yet often require adjustments as bones and gums can shrink after teeth removal.
Partial Dentures - also known as a bridge, a partial denture is used when some natural teeth remain. It usually consists of replacement teeth on a gum-colored base, sometimes with a metal framework.
Snap Dentures - also called implant-supported dentures, these are held in place by remaining teeth, or metal posts implanted in the jawbone. The denture snaps into place on these extensions. Snap dentures require fewer implants than implant retained dentures.
Implant Retained Dentures - also known as overdentures, these dentures are for people missing most of their teeth and are held in place by titanium screws implanted in the jawbone. They often work better than conventional dentures, because they are secured in place.
Cost of Dentures for Pensioners
It can be challenging to understand and evaluate the cost of dentures.
In general, Medicare does not cover dentures or other dental devices.
Based on the 2019 Australian Dental Association survey of dental fees, for pensioners and Australians without health insurance, the cost of dentures can range between $1350 (upper denture average costs) and $3500 (mid-range upper and lower acrylic dentures). If you have a mid-range extras health insurance policy, this price can be $800 less. If you have a comprehensive extras health insurance policy this can be about $1200 less (source: Finder.com.au).
When you sign up for private health insurance that covers dentures, there is usually a 12-month waiting period before you’re eligible for cover.
Dental tourism risks
The cost of dentures can lead older Australians to consider getting low cost fixed dentures abroad, in places such as Thailand, India or Bali. However, in addition to the added cost of flights and accommodation abroad, there are considerable health risks with dental tourism.
Key dental tourism risks include:
- Hygiene standards - that facilities and tools do not have the same hygiene standards as Australian dentists, which could lead to infections from unknown bacteria or viruses
- Blood clots - to lower the risk of life-threatening blood clots, it is recommended to refrain from air travel immediately after surgery
- Post-surgery complications - if you have post-surgery complications outside of Australia, an overseas practitioner will not have access to your medical records to safely and accurately prescribe medication.
Dentures for seniors - other finance options
If you don't have premium health insurance or are not able to pay in full for your dentures, you may be eligible to access your home equity via a Household Loan.
To qualify for a Household Loan you and your partner need to be aged 60 or older, be an Australian home-owner or mortgagee, and meet other requirements.
Be sure to seek further advice from your dentist. Having access to quality dentures is critical to ensure you can enjoy a healthy diet and smile with confidence.
If you’re wondering how home equity could improve your retirement funding, see how much equity you could access with our free to use equity calculator.
Cost of Dentures - https://www.finder.com.au/cost-of-dentures
Dental tourism risks - https://www.ssmirandadental.com.au/dental-implants-overseas/
Applications for credit are subject to eligibility and lending criteria. Fees and charges are payable and terms and conditions apply (available on request). Household Capital Pty Limited is a credit representative (512757) of Mortgage Direct Pty Limited ACN 075 721 434. Australian Credit Licence 391876.
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