IMPORTANT REMINDER: nearly all employer-sponsored dental benefit plans reset their annual maximum on January 1. In most cases, money you already paid into your plan won’t be refunded or applied toward next year’s plan. When your plan resets with the new year, the unused money in your plan will disappear. That’s why it’s important to check how your plan or Flexible Spending Account works. If it resets entirely on January 1 and you have unused benefits available, you should schedule a dentist appointment!
Think of it this way: by opting into your plan, you’ve already effectively paid for a number of dental appointments. If you don’t schedule them, you’re paying money for something you’re not using! It’s like buying an ice cream sundae and then THROWING IT OUT instead of eating it! Except in this case the sundae is a dental procedure. Not a perfect comparison, we’ll grant you, but you get what we mean. Don’t throw out the sundae. Here are four very important dental procedures you could use your benefits money for instead:
We recommend that everyone schedule a professional tooth cleaning appointment at least once every six months. No matter how well you care for your teeth, everyone can benefit from a professional cleaning. When you eat sugary or starchy foods, dental plaque naturally builds up inside your mouth. It coats your teeth and wedges itself in very hard-to-reach places. Over time, plaque hardens into tartar, which you can’t remove with a toothbrush or floss. Tartar leads to cavities, gingivitis, and other, more severe dental problems.
Professional dental cleanings remove any tartar that’s built up inside your mouth. We can use scalers and other devices to reach areas that are difficult for you to clean effectively. We’ll also identify ways you could clean and care for your teeth better. After a dental cleaning, you can rest assured that your mouth is clean, hygienic, and healthy. Almost all dental benefit programs cover periodic dental cleanings.
Exam and X-rays
Dental exams are important for ensuring long term dental health. During exams, your dentist checks your teeth, gums, and mouth. We look for cavities, gum recession, diseases, and other signs of tooth damage. Regular dental exams are the best way to find potential dental problems before they become serious. We recommend everyone schedule a dental exam every six months.
Most dentists take x-rays during every other exam, once per year. X-rays are very important to dental health for several reasons. First, they allow your dentist to see parts of your teeth, jaw, and mouth they couldn’t view otherwise. Using x-rays, we can see signs of potential problems that are not visible to the naked eye. By comparing a patient’s x-rays over time, we can also see how these potential problems develop. X-rays help dentists get a much more complete picture of your overall dental health and history.
Fillings are one of the most common procedures dentists perform, because cavities are very common. Cavities form when tooth decay creates a hole in the enamel of a tooth. They expose the vulnerable, inner dentin of the tooth to further decay, disease, or structural damage. Fillings treat cavities by literally filling them in, restoring the tooth’s original, complete structure. Fillings not only correct cavities, they also prevent further damage.
Fillings are often quick to place and are generally covered by dental benefit plans. Tooth colored fillings even blend in with the color of your teeth, making them nearly invisible. Dentists place fillings in a single appointment, which usually only lasts 30 minutes to one hour, and patients are able to eat and drink as soon as the numbness goes away. Filling in cavities while they’re small is very important, because if you leave cavities alone they only grow worse. By fixing the problem now, you’re preventing several bigger dental problems later on. All the more reason to use those benefits!
Dental crowns are a common procedure that is done to treat a variety of tooth problems. Crowns are prosthetic “caps” that fit over a damaged tooth in order to restore its shape and function. Dentists use crowns to repair or hold together cracked or broken teeth, replace badly chipped enamel, and more. Crowns protect damaged teeth by encasing the remaining portion of the tooth above the gum line. They’re the easiest and least intrusive way to restore a very damaged tooth back to functionality.
Like the other procedures on this list, crowns can often prevent the need for more extensive treatment. If you need a crown, it usually means your tooth has been structurally compromised in some way (sometimes crowns are also installed for cosmetic reasons.) Unless you do something to address the damage, the tooth can only get worse. Eventually, you may seriously and permanently damage your tooth. Many dental benefit plans cover crowns as important and necessary procedures. If you think you need a crown, see your dentist for a consultation right away.
These four common dental procedures are just a few examples of what you could use your dental benefits for. Even if you think you’re up to date on your dental health, it’s worth using your dental benefits to double check. After all, you’ve already paid for it!
ImmediaDent endeavors to work with as many dental plans as possible. We want to make sure you’re covered and getting the best dental service possible. If you’re looking for a dental practice that will work with your plan, give us a call today. Don’t wait–you don’t want to lose the benefits you’ve earned!