Inexpensive Dental Implants for Seniors Paid by Medicare

How do senior citizens find inexpensive dental implants when Medicare pays a fraction of the retail cost – if at all?

Make mountains out of molehills.

No single strategy will reduce your cost to replace missing teeth down to zero, but a series of modest discounts can add up to significant savings!

First, learn when Medicare covers dental implants. Or, better yet, discover which Parts (B, C, N, etc.) pay for specific treatment steps and how finding a provider accepting your coverage offers hidden discounts.

Then, explore other ways of reducing your out-of-pocket costs through other government benefits, grant programs, private insurance, and IRS tax breaks.

Dental Implants for Seniors Paid by Medicare

Most senior citizens searching for dental implants paid for by Medicare must find additional ways to make treatment affordable. However, it is a good starting point if you can solve a three-part riddle.

  1. Find other financial help with dental implants
  2. Get Medicare to pay for some services
  3. Find a prosthodontist accepting Medicare

Medicare 2022

Getting Medicare to cover dental implants is the first puzzle piece toward lower costs. However, 2022 rules explicitly exclude “services in connection with the care, treatment, filling, removal, or replacement of teeth or structures directly supporting teeth.”

Fortunately, every rule has exceptions, and below you will find two: medically necessary services and Advantage Plans with dental benefits

Medicare Part B

Medicare Part B does not cover dental implants but could pay for medically necessary procedures that occur early in the process.

  1. Reconstruction of the jaw following an accidental injury
  2. Tooth extractions in preparation for radiation treatment due to cancer

Free dentures for seniors on Medicare Part B might be a better alternative for those dual-eligible for Medicaid, which covers removable false teeth in thirty-three states.

Medicare Supplements

Medicare supplements (Parts F, G, K, L, M, or N) or Medigap policies do not cover dental implants, as they fill holes left by Part B. They do not pay for any treatment besides medically necessary services.

  1. Reconstruction of the jaw following an accidental injury
  2. Tooth extractions in preparation for radiation treatment due to cancer

Supplemental dental insurance for seniors pays for dental implants after a 24-month waiting period, while coverage for other treatments may begin more quickly, making oral care more affordable in the interim. Please note that these plans are unconnected to Medicare.

Medicare Part C

Dental implants for seniors paid by Medicare Part C (Advantage Plans) are a more realistic way to lower costs. This option covers more services and provides in-network discounts but limits benefits.

Many private companies offer Advantage Plans with different features in each state. Therefore, check your outline of coverage to verify the details.

Part C Coverage

Medicare Part C rarely pays for dental implants but could cover medically necessary procedures and related services more frequently if your plan includes oral care benefits.

Medicare Advantage Plans that cover dental implants fall into two categories.

  1. Part C plans often pay for early-stage dental work such as medically necessary procedures, diagnostic imaging, extractions due to decay or gum diseases, prescription drugs, and perhaps Alveoloplasty or bone grafting.  
  2. Part C plans rarely pay for late-stage treatment steps such as implant surgery, abutment placement, and permanent dentures.
Part C Discounts

Medicare Part C discounts make dental implants more affordable for seniors when they choose a prosthodontist that is in-network with their Advantage Plan.

In-network dentists cannot charge more than permitted by insurance. The allowed amount is a pre-negotiated discount price the provider agrees to charge members.

For instance, you might find similar figures in an Explanation of Benefits.

ServiceProvider ChargeAllowed AmountDiscount
X-Ray$25$16$9
Simple Extraction$350$200$150
Part C Limits

Medicare Part C annual benefit maximums limit how much your Advantage Plan will pay towards early-stage dental implant treatment steps each year. The average yearly maximum is about $1,500 of the allowed amount.

Here is what to do when dental insurance is maxed out: spread treatment over two years or more. Many surgical procedures (extractions, bone grafting, implant placement, etc.) require significant healing time between each step, making it easy to overcome this limitation.

Accepting Medicare

The ability to find dental implants near you that accept Medicare is the second puzzle piece for lowering costs. Only local providers in-network with your Advantage Plan agree to the bargain prices negotiated by your insurance company.

Dentists near you that take Medicare participate in-network with your Advantage Plan. Therefore, the best approach is to visit the online provider directory published by the insurance company: United Healthcare, Aetna, BCBS, Humana, and others.

Enter your zip code and get a quick list of nearby prosthodontists in your Advantage Plan that accept the allowed amount as full payment.

Free Implants

By now, you should realize that free dental implants for seniors on Medicare are unrealistic because government-sponsored insurance never covers the total cost. Plus, the alternatives are limited for two reasons.

  1. Free dental implants for low-income adults are extraordinarily uncommon because the overwhelming demand outstrips the undersized supply. Pro bono dentists and charitable organizations exist, but their chairs quickly fill up with patients wanting treatment at no cost.
  2. Free dental implants make little financial sense when a less costly alternative to replace missing teeth exists: removable dentures. Therefore, you might want to adjust your expectations to make treatment more budget-friendly.

Inexpensive Dental Implants for Seniors

Inexpensive dental implants are a more realistic goal for senior citizens on Medicare. You can further lower costs by engaging other strategies that reduce out-of-pocket spending to fix your smile.

Low-Cost Services

Sometimes, the only way low-income seniors can make dental implants seem economical is to cut unrelated household costs or raise funds from another source.

Free government money for seniors over 60 is waiting for you to come and claim it. Find out where to apply for this help and use the extra cash to pay the prosthodontist out-of-pocket.

Government benefits help older adults reduce everyday expenses such as food, transportation, phone service, home repairs, utility bills, rental housing, and more. Use the savings from these separate services to replace missing teeth and restore your smile.

Grant Programs

Partial grant programs marketed by private companies can sometimes lead to inexpensive dental implants for seniors with something of value to trade. Please verify that the offer is legitimate before signing on.

Government dental implant grants do not exist (outside of the topics discussed above) because no federal agency provides free money to individuals for personal use. Instead, the funding flows to large institutions to foster a public good.

However, other organizations offer grants for cosmetic dentistry as new patient acquisition programs. They promise free services to lure older people with rotten teeth to participating offices. Those with the financial capacity to pay for all treatment receive the most significant awards.

Insurance Plans

Dental insurance for seniors over 65 can make implants less expensive, but not in the way you might think. Remember that issuing companies want to make money, too, and will pay out less in benefits than they take in from premiums.

Dental insurance that covers implants immediately will include graded benefits that limit their value. The claim payments begin small but grow over time, ensuring that premiums exceed benefits for several years.

However, enrolling in senior dental insurance might offer the same in-network discounts as the Advantage Plans but across more treatment steps. The allowed amount applies only to covered services, so a plan covering implants right away ensures that you at least get these cost savings. 

Tax Breaks

IRS tax breaks make dental implants inexpensive for seniors on Medicare by increasing the size of their refund, especially for those needing full-mouth replacement.

Dental implants are tax deductible, and savings begin after meeting two critical thresholds requiring planning and timely action: itemized deductions and unreimbursed medical and dental expenses.

Itemized Deductions

Full-mouth dental implants for seniors are more cost-effective because it allows you to optimize your itemized deductions.

The cost of full-mouth dental implants begins at $35,000 and ranges higher, meaning most seniors surpass the first threshold easily when they consolidate treatment in one calendar year.

Itemized deductions must exceed the standard deduction of $12,950 for individuals and $25,900 for joint filers before boosting the size of your refund and can include these items.

  • Charitable Donations
  • Mortgage Interest & PMI Premiums
  • State & Local Property Taxes
  • Casualty & Theft Losses
  • Unreimbursed Medical & Dental Expenses

Unreimbursed Expenses

Medicare premiums help seniors to maximize their IRS dental implant discounts by moving them closer to the second threshold: Unreimbursed Medical & Dental Expenses must top 7.5% of Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) before savings begin.

Medicare premiums are deductible medical and dental expenses, making it easier to surpass the 7.5% AGI floor. For instance, a retired couple with a $100,000 AGI pays $1,980 annually, getting them 26% of the way to their magic $7,500 figure.