Dental Grants in Oklahoma

Retiring to a state is an economic choice, so it is mandatory to make the right one. Oklahoma is a good fit for seniors to live in and thrive because of the opportunities it offers. This state has a significant concentration of older adults, with 16.2% of its population being seniors above 65.  Why is this the case?

First, the state has a housing index of 84.20, making rent affordable. In addition, the cost of home care is significantly lower than the US average, making it cheaper to live here. The mixed tax picture makes the taxes senior-friendly. Living costs are low, with prices of commodities and utility bills being reasonable. The wages are high therefore, seniors interested in working can make a decent amount to sustain a comfortable lifestyle.

Even with all these attractions, more interventions are needed to curb the challenges that the elderly face. How is Oklahoma handling the challenge of deteriorating oral health in seniors?

Are Dental Grants for Seniors Real in Oklahoma?

Yes, dental grants for seniors are real. Why was it necessary for organizations and authorities to provide cash support to seniors to help them pay their dental expenses?

Oklahoma’s shortage of dental care providers is a barrier to dental care. In 2022, the average number of dentists for every 100,000 Oklahomans was 54.3, slightly below the nation’s average. Cost also hinders seniors from accessing urgent dental care services. In 2021, 4.3% of seniors above 65 avoided dental care due to costs.

Another barrier to the accessibility to dental care services is household income. Households with an income above $75,000 sought dental care services more often (76.6%) than those that earned less.

The level of education played a role in how often one visited a dentist. Those with a higher education level visited dental clinics more than those with lower levels of education.

Awarding dental grants was necessary to:

  1. Enable seniors to prioritize their oral health without worrying about finances through increasing accessibility and affordability of dental care services.
  2. Sponsor students interested in dentistry courses to increase the number of dental care providers.
  3. Develop a workforce by offering loan repayment options to struggling dentists.
  4. Fund research that shows promising outcomes of advancing dental practices.

How to Find Help for Dental Care in Oklahoma        

The Delta Dental of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Dental Association, and Dental Lifeline Networks are organizations awarding dental grants in the state. These grants are given to programs that increase accessibility to dental care services in ignored areas.

Donated Dental Services set the following criteria to qualify for its program:

  • Seniors above 65 years.
  • Patients needing medically necessary dental services.
  • People with disabilities
  • Individuals or households with no means of affording dental treatment.

Click here to learn more about the DDS program and its application process.

Dental Grants: Dental grants offered by different organizations have helped run the DDS of Oklahoma, which has 300 volunteer dentists, offering thousands of dollars in donated treatment to undeserving communities in the state.

Cosmetic Dental Grants: Because most insurance companies do not cover cosmetic procedures, many individuals opt to use cosmetic dental grants to pay for these elective procedures.

Dental Implant Grants: Although costly, most people nowadays prefer dental implants to dentures for tooth replacement. Since they are not covered by public and most private insurance companies, dental implant grants increase the chances of receiving these dental implants for free or at discounted prices.

Free Dental Implant Clinical Trials: It can cost you from $4,000- $5,000 per tooth to replace each tooth you’ve lost with an implant. For seniors, this can go way above their budget. Dental schools run dental implant clinical trials where you can get these dental implants for free or at a reduced cost as a benefit for participation. These studies are mainly for research.

Not everyone qualifies to participate in dental clinical trials, only those with specific dental conditions. Participation is voluntary.

Charities that Help with Dental Costs

D-DENT Oklahoma: D-DENT matches senior applicants to private volunteer dentists who offer restorative dental care and comprehensive care free of charge. Uninsured, veteran, disabled and low-income seniors with limited can receive dental healthcare that is fully paid for by D-DENT.

Ministries of Jesus: Ministries of Jesus is a faith-based organization with several Christian dentist volunteers who offer dental care services to individuals that lack a public third-party payer dental cover. To receive dental treatment, visit the MoJ medical clinic to get a referral from a physician.

Neighbor For Neighbor: Neighbor For Neighbor is an inter-faith organization that runs ten programs, one being a dental clinic where they provide restorative and dental care services, oral surgeries, and dental education.

Neighborhood Services Organizations, Inc.: The non-profit organization has been in service for 100 years, offering dental services like examinations, extractions, cleaning, fillings, dentures, repair, partials, and X-rays at reduced prices.  Their targets are at-risk and homeless patients.

Free or Low-Cost Dental Clinics in Oklahoma

  1. Good Shepherd Clinic- Oklahoma City
  2. Eastern Oklahoma Donated Dental Services- Tulsa
  3. Ocean Dental- Warr Acres
  4. Jefferson Dental and Orthodontic- Oklahoma City
  5. Arkansas Verdigris Valley Health Centers- Porter

If you are wondering where you will find free or low-cost dental clinics in or near your county of residents, you can visit Free Dental Care and take a look at their lists of about 54 clinics in Oklahoma.

Does Medicare Cover Dental Implants in Oklahoma?

The Original Medicare Part A and B do not cover dental costs, including dental implants. Seniors searching for dental plans can opt for Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) that include dental coverage in their Annual Enrollment Period.

What should you know about MA plans? The supplemental insurance plans offered by private companies to cover dental, hearing, and vision come at an extra charge. The plans follow a co-sharing approach that is depending on time, the cover will pay a percentage of the dental costs while you pay the remainder out-of-pocket. Finally, MA plans come with an annual maximum dental benefit amount.

Programs Helping with Fillings, Cleanings, Decay and Root Canal Costs

SoonerCare (Medicaid): Seniors above 65 or people living with disabilities can get help paying their medical bills through Oklahoma Healthcare Authority’s Medicaid program. The services covered include dental cleanings, fluoride treatments, fillings, dentures, root canals, and extractions.

Financial Assistance

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a form of monetary aid given to seniors facing financial challenges. To apply for this help, you need proof of your income, immigration status, state residency, and proof of ID.

Charitable organizations like the Salvation Army Central Oklahoma give financial help to people in emergencies. The support given depends on an individual’s situation and the amount available.

Oklahoma Advantage Waiver Program is run by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority that provides seniors and people with disabilities with cash aid and other forms of support like caregiving support.

Oklahoma is an ideal place for seniors to reside, but that doesn’t mean that the relevant authorities shouldn’t better the standard of living. Developing the dental health care system of the state will promote the oral health of not only older adults but all Oklahomans.