NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — For the first time ever, adults on TennCare are now eligible for extensive dental benefits as of 2023. According to TennCare, this means extensive dental benefits for approximately 600,000 adults.
In 2022, Governor Lee proposed — and the General Assembly approved — a $25 million investment to offer dental care to persons 21 years and older on TennCare. Children on TennCare, as well as pregnant women on TennCare, already receive dental benefits.
TennCare’s dental plan, DentaQuest, will be responsible for administering the dental care of members under the oversight of TennCare.
Howard Allen, who is on TennCare, thinks the latest expansion of dental benefits to TennCare adults is really going to improve the health of thousands of Tennesseans.
"Just because you’re brushing your teeth, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to lose your teeth or have gum disease. It’s more to it than brushing your teeth," Allen said.
"They're going to be able to get services such as cleanings, exams, x-rays, fillings, crowns, root canals, partial dentures, dentures, extractions, and more," TennCare Dental Director Dr. Crystal Manners said.
Manners said if someone has bad oral hygiene, it can really make their life difficult.
"Their ability to interview for a job, their ability to eat the kind of foods they enjoy eating — it can also cause them to pass along bacteria from their own mouths to their child’s mouth, causing them to be more prone to end up with decay too," said Manners.
Allen can’t wait to have a dentist work on his teeth.
"I love to smile. I'm a people person. I like to crack jokes, and my mouth is big and it opens up. I want you to see a nice tooth in there," Allen said.
He looks forward to enjoying the final results.
Several people on TennCare tell NewsChannel 5 they’ve had trouble securing a dentist because dentists didn't accept TennCare insurance before.
Many of them had to call four or five offices to find a dentist.
To find a dentist in-network, members can use the Find a Dentist Tool, which is also available through TennCare’s website.
TennCare said DentaQuest began sending members a welcome letter in December with more information on accessing dental benefits. TennCare members can also go online to the TennCare Dental Services website to get more information.
They said all members need to make sure TennCare has their correct address by checking online through Tenncareconnect.tn.gov or by calling 855-259-0701. Members can use their TennCare member IDs or their health plan card when visiting the dentist.