Springing for dental insurance is an investment in a healthy smile.

But unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans never fully realize the return on that investment.

Many dental insurance plans expire on Dec. 31. And according to the National Association of Dental Plans, fewer than 3 percent of people with PPO dental plans end the year will money on the table.

If it looks like you’re going to be among that group this year, don’t panic! You might still be able to squeeze in an appointment before the end of the year. Give Houston Uptown Dentists a call at 832-463-1021. This is a busy time in our Houston, TX office, but we’ll try our best to accommodate you.

In the meantime, read on for some of the ways you can make the most of your dental benefits.

Dental Insurance: Use It Or Lose It

With most dental insurance plans, you or your employer pay monthly premiums in exchange for a maximum amount you can spend on dental care. Most dental insurance plans cover preventative care, things like routine cleanings and checkups. Some plans will also offer partial coverage for more extensive dental work, such as root canal therapy or dental crowns.

Unfortunately, many dental plans — and any unused benefits — expire at the end of the year. In essence, you or your employer paid money upfront for benefits you didn’t get to use! It’s sort of like paying for movie tickets but not staying for the movie or paying for your fast food at the drive-through window but driving away before you get your order.

The same December 31 expiration date also holds true for many flexible spending accounts, or FSAs.

In most cases, an FSA is an account that you establish with your employer. During the open enrollment period, you decide how much you want to take out of your paycheck pre-tax and put into your FSA. Then, you can use that money later on to cover costs related to dental care, like preventative measures or even procedures that aren’t covered by your dental insurance. It’s important to note, however, that FSAs can vary from company to company.

In many cases, the money you put into your FSA during the plan year must be used by Dec. 31, although some employers offer a grace period that extends the time you have to spend that money. Some employers also allow some funds to roll over from one year to the next.

What If I’m Going To Lose My Benefits?

Many dental insurance policyholders simply don’t realize that their plans are expiring at the end of the year until it’s too late. If you think you’re in that boat, it might be tempting to call every local dentist in the phone book to see who can schedule a last-minute appointment.

But before you do anything, review your dental insurance plan document. You can also ask your employer about the details of your plan. Not all dental insurance policies expire on Dec. 31. If that’s the case with your plan, then you have nothing to worry about.

If however you find that yes, your plan does expire on Dec. 31, don’t panic. Our friendly administrative team would be happy to help you. They can help you determine whether our benefits can be used in our office. They can also try to schedule an appointment for you before the end of the year. Just give us a call at 832-463-1021!

Get The Most Out Of Your Dental Benefits

Understanding your dental insurance plan and carefully planning your dental care can help you get your money’s worth.

Start thinking about your dental needs early in the year, and remember: You should be seeing the dentist for a routine checkup and cleaning once every six months. Then, in the summer or fall, it’s a good idea to ask your dentist about any follow-up appointments or procedures you should schedule before the end of the year.

When it comes to FSAs, it can be tempting to just randomly pick an amount of money to deduct from your paychecks. ($50 seems reasonable, right?) But planning ahead will help make sure you’re not putting more money into your account than you’ll realistically use.

Finally, keeping up with your preventative dental care can reduce the likelihood you’ll need costly curative treatments down the road.

We hope you’ll consider Houston Uptown Dentists for all your dentistry needs! We pride ourselves on offering comfortable and compassionate dental care for the entire family. Give us a call today at 832-463-1021 to schedule an appointment. You can also fill out our convenient online form.