Every year, thousands of dollars in dental benefits get wasted. Why? We all forget to schedule dental appointments before it’s too late.
Many dental insurance plans run on the calendar year, so now is the time to schedule a dental appointment to take advantage of end-of-year benefits. So, what are the best ways to get the biggest bang for your dental benefit buck? Check it out:
Most dental insurance plans have a yearly maximum, which is how much the insurance company is willing to pay in one year for your dental work. Each insurance company’s yearly maximum is different, so check your benefits plan to be sure. The industry average seems to be about $1,000 per person per year. With yearly maximums, you have to use it or lose it. If you don’t use the benefits, any remaining benefits will not roll over into the following year. Use the benefits now while you can!
Depending on the dental insurance plan your employer carries, you may have to pay a deductible at each preventive visit and for various procedures. The deductible is the portion of the bill you must pay out of pocket until your insurance kicks in. So, if you have a $1,000 deductible, you must spend $1,000 in dental medical costs before insurance starts paying for your bill. Many dental insurance plans cover preventive maintenance, such as cleanings, etc. Keep in mind that your deductible could be higher if you use an out-of-network dentist, so do your research before choosing your dental care provider.
If you have met your annual deductible for the year, this could be the right time to get some required dental work done. Once the new dental plan year starts, your deductible resets.
Flexible Spending Accounts
Flexible spending accounts (FSA) are a great way to save money for health expenses tax-free. The money you set aside in an FSA isn’t taxed, which means you get an even bigger bang for your buck.
To ensure you get the most out of your FSA, use your accrued money by the end of your benefits year. Typically, FSA funds do not roll over into the next benefits plan year, but check with your employer for more details. Also, contact your FSA administrator to find out what services are and are not covered. Some FSA plans do not allow funds to be used for cosmetic procedures such as whitening, veneers, or cosmetic braces.
Now that you know why using up your end-of-year benefits is so important, here are two of the best ways to use them:
Ok, this is the easiest place to start. If you haven’t had a preventive cleaning and check-up in the last six months, get it on the calendar now. Seeing your dentist at least once every six months for a full cleaning can help uncover small problems before they become bigger ones.
Many dentists’ calendars fill up at the end of the year since other people are using up their dental benefits, too. Dental insurance companies often have a benefits deadline of December 31, and that year’s benefits go away after that date. At the start of the new year, the benefits start fresh. Your employer’s dental insurance plan may have different start and end dates, so check your benefits plan to be sure.
- Before you come in for your appointment, ask yourself these questions:
Are your gums bleeding when you brush? If so, that can be a symptom of gum disease. The sooner you tell us, the sooner we can help you.
- Do you have any pain in any of your teeth? Pain or sensitivity when you’re biting down or eating hot/cold foods could mean you have cracked teeth, broken fillings, or cavities. Even if the pain is fairly mild, let us know. It’s always better to check it out sooner rather than later.
- Are there any spots in your mouth that aren’t healing normally? It could be nothing, but there’s also a chance it could be oral cancer. At Advanced Dentistry of Blue Ash, we do oral cancer screenings at every check-up.
- Are you having trouble flossing or brushing? Jagged teeth, broken fillings, or some medical conditions could make it tough to floss or brush. Let us know, and we can get to the root of the problem (Get it?!? Root of the problem? Sorry, bad joke).
- Have you been clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth? Sometimes, our patients don’t even realize that they’ve been doing it. In those cases, they wake up with a tension headache or a tight jaw without realizing the cause. Both clenching and grinding your teeth can wear down your teeth and make them more susceptible to decay and cavities.
If you don’t currently have dental insurance through your employer, you can often find dental membership plans that provide dental services at a discounted rate. Dr. Schlueter offers a dental membership plan. Call the office at 513.891.3333 to learn more or ask about it at your next appointment.
More In-Depth Dental Procedures
If you have met your deductible and you know that you need to have a dental procedure completed, this is the perfect time to make an appointment with your dentist. Be sure to talk to the billing team at the dentists’ office to be sure your dental plan coverage is going to cover what you anticipated. That way, you can avoid any surprises.
It’s incredibly important to use your dental benefits to your advantage. At Advanced Dentistry of Blue Ash, we love keeping our patients’ smiles happy and healthy. Please let us know if there is anything else we can do to make you feel more comfortable, and we’ll see you at your next visit.