It’s almost the end of the calendar year. Have you gotten the most bang for your buck that your dental insurance offers?
If you’re like most Americans, then the answer is probably “no.” According to the National Association of Dental Plans, less than 3% of adults with PPO dental plans actually reach or exceed the annual maximum amounts on their plans.
This leaves more than 97% of Americans with money on the table as 2020 turns into 2021 and insurance benefits reset.
But you don’t have to be a part of the 97% this year! Instead of letting your dental benefits go to waste, make sure to use everything available to you before the end of the year.
Here are the tricks you need to maximize your dental benefits before the year ends.
How Does Dental Insurance Work?
It’s hard to strategically utilize dental insurance benefits if you’re not sure how they work, so here’s a quick crash course in dental insurance.
- The yearly maximum is the most amount of money your dental insurance plan will pay for your dental work in one calendar year. Each insurance provider and plan assigns its own maximum, but for most people, this limit averages around $1,000 per year, per person. If you only spend $600 of your $1,000 maximum, the other $400 disappears at the end of the year; it won’t roll over!
- A deductible is the amount of money you must pay out-of-pocket before your insurance company begins paying for services. You can choose a high-deductible or low-deductible plan depending on your dental needs.
- Premiums are the monthly bills you pay to your dental insurance company. As long as you pay your premium, you remain covered by dental insurance, so it’s important to use the benefits you pay for!
Receive As Much Preventative Care As Possible
Even if you don’t need dental implants or a root canal, you can still maximize your dental insurance benefits by receiving as much preventative care as possible.
The goal of preventative dentistry is to protect oral hygiene and prevent dental problems from ever emerging. Preventative dentistry services come in many forms. Be sure to schedule yourself for as many as possible to take full advantage of your insurance before January rolls around:
Dental Cleanings and Exams
Tartar, tooth decay, and other issues can easily develop and go unnoticed. This is why it’s so important to see your dentist every six months like clockwork. Biannual exams give your dentist the opportunity to evaluate your dental health, catch issues in their earliest stages, and keep you smiling with confidence:
- Remove plaque and tartar, which cause tooth decay and gum disease
- Polish the teeth to remove stains
- Assess the gums and bone for signs of disease
- Identify ways to improve your daily oral hygiene
Nearly half of adults over the age of 29 have gum disease, but you don’t have to be one of them! Tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental issues are common but easily avoidable with regular checkups using your dental insurance benefits.
We are all susceptible to tooth decay, which causes cavities, gum disease, and other serious complications.
Fluoride is used to protect teeth from the risk of decay, but if the fluoride from toothpaste isn’t enough, your dentist may recommend fluoride treatments. This is most common for children, but it can also benefit adults who are especially vulnerable to cavities.
When applied every six months, fluoride varnish can prevent tooth decay in children and adolescents. The fluoride strengthens teeth and protects them from erosion. It’s much easier to spread fluoride varnish on the teeth as a preventative appointment than to fill a cavity or cover a damaged tooth with a crown!
Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer is a serious and aggressive disease that must be diagnosed as early as possible. It develops anywhere in the mouth, including the lips, cheeks, gums, tongue, and throat. An oral cancer screening is one of the best preventative uses of your dental insurance benefits. Simply schedule an end-of-year screening with your dentist so that you can welcome a near year with the knowledge that your mouth is healthy and protected.
Dental sealants create a thin plastic coating over vulnerable teeth. Each sealant acts as a shield against decay-causing bacteria so that your child’s smile- or your own!- stays healthy and vibrant.
Dental sealants offer reliable protection to the teeth:
- Shield teeth like back molars from bacteria and decay
- Prevent cavities
- Lower the overall cost of dental care
- Provide extra protection when it’s needed most
Remember that most insurance companies set a December 31 deadline for all dental benefits. Any “dental dollars” you don’t use will not roll over into the next year. Instead, your deductible will reset and you’ll be starting the process all over again.
Take Care of Large Treatments
If you’ve already received all of the preventative care you need, set your sites on larger treatments. This is an especially good idea if you’ve already met your deductible but haven’t yet reached your annual maximum. When you’re in that position, you won’t need to pay much, if anything, out-of-pocket to receive the care you need.
For example, you may choose the end of the year to receive CEREC same-day crowns, a dental implant, or the root canal you’ve been putting off for months.
What About Flexible Spending Accounts?
You may also have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) through your employer. FSAs cover services and products that preserve and enhance your dental health, possibly including items like braces, dentures, cleanings, and more.
Since FSAs function like debit cards, you can use it just like money to cover your medical and dental expenses. Many reset December 31, but you might be lucky enough to have a 2-3 month grace period or the privilege of carrying up to $500 over into the next year. Whatever your case may be, it pays- literally!- to use your FSA funds on your dental priorities before the end of the year.
Whatever your dental needs as the year comes to a close, Cassell Dentistry in San Diego, California is here to help you meet your smile goals. We’re committed to providing an array of treatment options customized to meet your individual needs, so you can enter 2021 with your best smile yet.
Contact Cassell Dentistry today to make your appointment and maximize your insurance benefits before the year ends!