Teeth, generally speaking, don’t get better with age. People know this. So when a WellPoint survey analyzed results from respondents age 45 and older, the surveyors were surprised by the apparent disconnect that came through.

Ninety percent told WellPoint that they understood the importance of good dental health to their overall health and quality of life. But while 83 percent of those surveyed said they had health coverage, just 41 percent said they had dental coverage.

A third of those without dental coverage cited the added burden of dental insurance expenses as a primary reason why they were going without.

The survey was weighted toward those age 45 and over; that group comprised 63 percent of the total surveyed.

Uncertainties about how to find good information about dental care surfaced as a major concern among the older population. Two-thirds said they lacked the information they need to make good decisions about post-retirement dental coverage options.

“There has been a positive surge of awareness around personal health and it is assuring that baby boomers understand the link between dental care and overall health,” said Dani Fjelstad, president of WellPoint’s Dental business. “However, this survey uncovered a knowledge gap about dental insurance options that employers and insurers need to address.”

The primary sources for information about dental insurance cited were:

  • Heath care providers (17 percent).
  • Insurance company websites (14 percent).
  • Human resource departments (13 percent).
  • Family members (12 percent).
  • Friends (11 percent).

Other nuggets from the WellPoint mine:

  • More than 60 percent of those 45 and older with dental insurance indicated a preference for a plan that bundles dental and vision insurance together.
  • Comprehensive dental coverage got a thumbs-up from 61 percent.
  • 27 percent said they’d pay more for dental insurance if it included benefits such as fitness programs and/or legal or financial counseling services.