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Does Medicare cover dental care?


No. Medicare doesn’t cover routine dental care, such as regular exams, cleanings and X-rays. It also doesn’t cover most procedures related to dental health, such as extractions, root canals, dentures and other dental services. 

This is despite decades of data showing that abscesses in the mouth can lead to sepsis, a body’s overactive response to an infection that can be fatal at any age. Sepsis is especially risky for adults 65 and older and children younger than 12 months. 

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Medicare covers some dental-related expenses but in very limited circumstances. These include surgery to treat jaw fractures, dental services to prepare for radiation treatment of oral cancer or an oral exam conducted in a hospital before a kidney transplant.

Medicare is making strides in expanding its limited dental coverage:

  • In 2023, Medicare expanded its coverage to add dental exams and necessary treatments required before other types of organ transplant surgery and cardiac valve replacement.
  • And in 2024, Medicare started to cover a dental exam as part of a comprehensive workup at the same time as Medicare-covered treatments for head and neck cancer.

Does Medicare Advantage cover dental care? 

Medicare Advantage plans, the private alternatives to original Medicare, typically include dental care — 97 percent of Medicare Advantage plans provide some dental coverage in 2024, according to KFF. Most provide dental coverage automatically, but some charge an extra premium. You may also be able to add an extra level of dental coverage for an additional premium.

Dental benefits vary from plan to plan. Most Medicare Advantage plans cover preventive services, such as cleanings and X-rays, without a copayment. Members on average pay 20 percent to 70 percent copays for dental procedures like crowns, dentures, extractions, implants, root canals and treatments for gum disease, with 50 percent being the norm, according to a 2021 study by KFF, the most recent information available.

Most Medicare Advantage plans also annually cap dental coverage, averaging $1,300 in 2021; 8 percent of MA members were in a plan with a cap of $2,000 to $5,000 during that time, according to the KFF study.

With such a wide range of coverage levels to choose from, it’s important to research each plan’s dental coverage too when choosing a Medicare Advantage plan for your other medications, doctors and health care needs.

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To find out more about plans with dental coverage in your area, go to the Medicare Plan Finder and key in your zip code, select Medicare Advantage and answer a few questions.

You’ll see a list of all Medicare Advantage plans in your area, with a green check mark noting ✓ Dental in the Plan Benefits list. You can narrow the list by clicking on Filter by: Plan Benefits, checking the box ☐ beside Dental coverage and clicking Apply.

For more information about the plan’s dental coverage, click Plan Details and scroll down to Extra Benefits. If a plan has copayments or coverage limits, you’ll see those listed in the Dental section. 

You may be required to use an in-network provider and get prior authorization for some dental services. 

You can visit a plan’s website or contact the plan directly for more information. Click on the link by the plan name in the Plan Finder to go to the plan’s website, where you can review plan documents including its summary of benefits and evidence of coverage, which go into more detail.

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What are other ways to get help paying for dental care?

Other sources also can help you pay for dental care:  

  • Standalone dental insurance policies. Premiums, copayments, covered services and annual coverage maximums vary a lot from plan to plan. These may require you to use an in-network dentist and wait for a predetermined time before the plan will cover more expensive procedures. 
  • Dental discount programs. Some programs charge an up-front annual fee in return for discounts on dental services, which can range from 30 percent to 40 percent off on cleanings, crowns, exams and fillings. But they also require you to use certain dentists. 
  • Extra coverage from Medigap. While standard Medigap policies don’t provide dental coverage, some Medigap insurers allow you to tack on dental coverage to your policy for an extra premium. This often entails membership in a dental discount program, packaging dental coverage with hearing and vision benefits. 
  • Medicaid. The joint federal-state program that helps cover medical expenses for people with low incomes covers dental services for people with Medicaid under age 21. However, fewer than half of the states provide care beyond emergency dental services for adults. Contact your state Medicaid office for details. 
  • Veterans benefits. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides dental care benefits to veterans who qualify. The type and amount of dental care you can receive is based on your service-connected disability rating, your service history and other factors. See the VA’s dental care page for more information.  

Keep in mind

You can withdraw money tax-free from a health savings account to pay out-of-pocket dental expenses. You can’t contribute to an HSA after you enroll in Medicare, but you can use money you’ve already saved in the account for eligible medical expenses at any age, including dental expenses not covered by insurance.  ​

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