dental emergencies needing treatment

Medicare and Oral Health


Does basic Medicare cover regular dental visits?
A)    Yes
B)    No
C)    I’m not sure…

If you answered A or C, you aren’t alone, as a recent Washington Dental Service Foundation survey showed 51% of respondents in Spokane believe Medicare covers dental. However, you would be wrong.

Correct answer: B) No, basic Medicare does not cover dental, and a lot of folks entering retirement are learning this the hard way. A recent article in The Spokesman Review talks about what steps folks approaching retirement should take for their oral health.

Good oral health relates to a lot more than just our teeth; our ability to chew effects the nutrition we receive, our ability to smile effects our confidence, and chronic conditions like Type 2 Diabetes can exacerbate dental decay.

Organizations like Smile Spokane, WDSF’s The Mighty Mouth, and our subsidiary Better Health Together's DENT program are helping connect folks to the dental care they need, but for lasting change, we need a health care system that includes our mouths in our health. To learn more about EHF’s involvement in our community's oral health, view our Oral Health Access Document here. 

Seattle Times Article about Access to Dental Care in Washington State

Check out this intriguing article from the Seattle Times about access to dental care in Washington State.  While approximately 25% of Washington residents have dental insurance through Medicaid, as the article states, "Dental insurance doesn't mean access to care."  Only 3 in 10 dentists accept Medicaid, and according to the article, dental trouble was the number one reason people went to the emergency room in 2010 (see image below).


In an effort to address this problem in our region, our subsidiary Better Health Together's Dental Emergencies Needing Treatment (DENT) program aims to reduce unnecessary ER and hospital visits for dental problems by connecting clients to dental providers who accept Medicaid, as well as by growing the network of providers who accept Medicaid.  In its first six months, the program generated an estimated $634,000 in savings by helping patients access more appropriate dental care.

Learn more about DENT on BHT's website.