Group wants lawmakers to approve better dental care for seniors

Demand Medicare Dental wants benefits part of Medicare program

ORLANDO, Fla. – A local group is petitioning lawmakers for better dental coverage for Florida seniors.

Demand Medicare Dental wants the state to include more comprehensive oral care as part of the Medicare program. Right now, only 1 percent of services are covered, including regular checkups and tooth extractions.

The group has been setting up at different Orlando-area locations asking seniors to sign petitions and toothbrushes to hand over to lawmakers.

Supporter Jeannette Cheshier said she's spent more than $35,000 on dental services, including implants, crowns and root canals. She had the money because of an inheritance. Others are not so lucky.

"They get upset because they can't keep their teeth, they have to have, ya know their teeth pulled and then dentures. Or they have to just deal with pain," Cheshier said.

Demand Medicare Dental said when seniors are not able to get services, they lose teeth and also suffer from other serious health complications. Bad oral care can lead to heart disease, for instance.

The group said several lawmakers have expressed support or interest in possibly adding more dental care to Medicare.