Using Flexible Spending Accounts to Keep Dental Care Affordable


The FSA contribution limit is $2,750 of tax-free dollars per year. If you have money sitting in your FSA, failing to spend it means that your benefit is going to waste. Many people treat their FSAs like savings accounts. They make their contributions and keep their hands off of them, at least until that’s no longer an option. 

If you have funds remaining in your FSA, you need to spend them before you lose them. Creating a utilization plan for your FSA funds will assure that every dollar is put to good use. Why not use your FSA to cover your biannual dentist appointments or finally get that aching cavity taken care of?

FSA Money and the “Use It or Lose It” Rule

Almost all Flexible Spending Accounts were subject to a “use it or lose it” rule. Any funding not utilized by the end of the calendar year was simply lost. Most FSAs are still structured this way. Employers have two options to combat the “use it or lose it” provision. They can offer their employees a grace period or a carryover, but not both. 

FSA cafeteria plans can use a grace period to extend the window for using FSA funds by up to two and a half months after the end of the annual plan, effectively making the year 14.5 months long. 

The alternative to a grace period is a carryover rule. If employees are unable to use their full FSA allowance, they can roll up to $500 over into the next year. They may lose some of their FSA funding, but they won’t lose all of it. That $500 is a substantial amount that may come in handy for a hefty medical expense. 

If you aren’t sure what kind of FSA you have, speak with someone in the HR department at work. If you have to use it or lose it, strategically and productively using it as soon as possible will assure that you don’t let a dollar go to waste.

Using your FSA Money for Dental Care

Most dental procedures, including routine cleanings, extractions, gum disease treatments, dental implants, crowns, bridges, fillings, and dentures are FSA eligible. If teeth are significantly damaged, some FSAs are willing to cover crowns as a restorative procedure. It all depends on the FSA plan and the circumstances.

If you have a limited purpose flexible spending account (LPFSA), it will still cover almost every dental procedure a standard FSA will cover. The two function almost identically at the dentist’s office.

Dental diagnostic and preventative care are of the utmost importance. You should be attending at least two dental appointments per year to assure that your mouth is healthy. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you experience pain and sensitivity in your teeth or gums to book your dental appointment. Booking early can help to prevent or reverse early signs of gum disease or easily repair cavities that have only just begun. 

Your FSA will cover your examination, diagnosis, cleaning, and treatment for the vast majority of dental procedures. As with any medical condition, treatment of dental issues in their earliest stages is simple and less costly. 

Adhering to a regular appointment schedule and earmarking your FSA funds will protect and preserve the health of your mouth while assuring that you effectively utilize your FSA tax-free money before you lose it. 

Some Services Aren’t Covered by FSA Funds

Flexible spending accounts are designed to cover services related to your health. Teeth whitening procedures, veneers on teeth that are otherwise healthy, and invisible braces for cosmetic alignment aren’t covered.

Orthodontic solutions for alignment issues that impact the health of your mouth or cause pain are usually covered by most FSA plans. There is room for interpretation. Significant alignment issues can usually be deemed necessary with most FSA plans, but mild alignment to close a gap between teeth or aesthetically improve a smile won’t be covered.

If you’re interested in a cosmetic dental procedure, you’ll first need an examination. Any concerns relating to the health of your mouth must be addressed before cosmetic dentistry procedures can be performed. Your health will always come first. Your FSA will pay for those exams and treatments. Your whitening procedure will be an out of pocket expense. 

With the amount you save using your FSA to cover costs relating to your dental health, you might find it financially feasible to use your personal funds for cosmetic treatments. You won’t need to dip into your personal savings account for your cleaning, making it slightly more feasible to earmark your own funds for aesthetic treatments.

Strangely enough, FSAs don’t cover things like toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, or mouthwash even though they are necessities for your oral health. Many FSAs will cover water flossing devices and pain relievers or prescriptions written by a dentist. 

Beat the Crowds at First Dental

We all live busy lives. It can be difficult to gather the family together for a routine visit to the dentist. Many people who use their FSAs for dental costs have a hard time fitting their visit into their schedules. They wait until December, when they’ve essentially run out of time to use their tax-free money.

Like many dental practices, First Dental gets very busy at the end of the year. Many people delay their dental visits until they can no longer delay them. If you put yourself amongst this group, you’ll find that it’s far more difficult to get an appointment when you need it most.

It’s much easier to accommodate appointments between September and November, before the urgency kicks in. Every First Dental patient is equally as important, and Dr. Yang wants to spend as much time with each patient as necessary. Scheduling before the very end of the year is better for everyone. 

Beat the crowded waiting rooms and enjoy a stress-free checkup by giving us a call sooner rather than later. 

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