Be Smart – don’t waste your dental insurance

By Dr. Stephanie McGannDMD FAGD, Columnist, The Times

In this era of uncertainty everyone needs to be careful about so many things. It’s always true  that regular dental visits save money in the long run. If you are fortunate enough to have dental benefits it’s imperative to use them to their fullest. Did you know your dental benefits reset every year? It’s true. If your dental insurance plan, like most is on a calendar year, you will lose out on all unused benefits after December 31st.  Don’t let your insurance company take back the benefits you paid for.

That means this is a great time of year to take advantage of everything your dental insurance provides, especially if you have outstanding treatments. Here are just a few of the services you want to use before you lose the opportunity.

Routine Checkups

Many dental insurance plans provide coverage for two checkups a year at six-month intervals. Some plans have dental hygiene services paid at twice in a calendar year. So, if you haven’t had a cleaning in the last six months, now is an excellent time to schedule a visit with your dentist.

Getting a regular checkup ensures your teeth and gums are healthy, and gives your dentist a chance to review your oral health needs to make sure problems aren’t developing. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy a professionally cleaned and polished smile, which can have you leaving the office feeling like a more radiant, confident you.

It’s important to get on the schedule soon, so many offices were closed for a period of time due to  Covid-19 that those visits to the dental hygienist are coveted spots.

Basic Maintenance

Over time things wear out. Just like my dishwasher and the brakes on my car, dental work does not last forever. If there are benefits remaining for 2020 use them to replace that broken filling, take care of that nagging spot that catches food or even just get rid of sharp edges.  Ask your dentist what makes sense to maximize your benefits and help prevent bigger issues in the future.

Large Treatments

If you need more extensive dental treatments involving multiple visits, the end of the year is the perfect time to get started. This is especially true if you’ve already met your deductible and haven’t hit your annual maximum. Once your deductible is paid, your out-of-pocket expenses can decrease dramatically, making it an ideal situation for larger dental treatments.

If you’re getting close to your annual maximum, your dentist may be able  help create a plan to maximize your benefits by splitting your treatment between this year and next, allowing you to use the benefits you have remaining this year and take advantage of your renewed benefits after the new year.

This approach can help minimize out-of-pocket expenses by using your coverage in an optimal way. And, if you need more assistance with making the costs manageable, most practices  offer financing options like Care Credit that can give you the opportunity to spread out-of-pocket costs over a time period that is manageable for you, sometimes without any interest charges.

Timing is everything

Timing is all so important. Every dentist will share the story of the patient who presented in the office the last week of the year wanting to use their benefits before the end of the year, only to discover there were no appointments left or that the treatment they needed required multiple visits that would stretch into the next year.  Don’t wait, get started today.  Nobody knows what the future holds for college students, While they are home, get them caught up on dental care.  Be sure to check with your dental office to see about getting scheduled before the end of the year.

Make the most of dental benefits by scheduling early and being proactive about future dental needs. Don’t throw your benefits away.

Dr. Stephanie McGann, who has more than two decades of dental practice experience, is a resident of the Unionville area and owns and practices at Rainbow Valley Dental, in Valley. She is a past President of the Chester/Delaware Dental Society and she is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry.

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