Originally published Tuesday, October 9, 2018 at 05:57p.m.

Many individuals pay dental insurance premiums monthly but forget to utilize their benefit or do not see the importance

of regular visits to the dentist.

But by using your dental insurance by the end of each year, you can save yourself or your insured family members hundreds of dollars. Dental insurance plans provide a yearly maximum; this is an amount of money an individual can use towards dental expenses.

Often, the amount given is from $1,000 to $1,500 per person, per year! This amount will not roll over into the New Year and will renew, so if the fund goes unused, you will lose the benefit!

Often patients have expensive dental care plans, so it may be possible to begin your treatment plan at the end of one benefit year and finish it up in the next year. This allows patients to use both yearly maximums on the same treatment plan, maximizing your insurance benefits and reducing your out-of-pocket costs.

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) are also a great way to help pay dental expenses. This amount is usually deducted from payroll pre-tax and placed into the FSA account for health care expenses. Be sure to use your full deduction amount before the year is up, or you may forfeit any amount you have contributed to your FSA.

Health Savings Accounts (or HSA) are another benefit many employers offer that can help improve your oral health. Take advantage of this triple tax advantaged account by using the balance to pay for dental visits. Many employers will even match the amount being deducted into your account; ask your employer about this today to ensure you are making the most of your HSA account.

There generally is a deductible that must be paid before insurance companies will begin to cover dental expenses. Fortunately, for most insurance plans the deductible is low.

On average the amount will be just $50 annually for an in-network dental care provider. With all these money-saving benefits, there is no reason to be letting your dental insurance go to waste.

Even if you don’t have any dental concerns, you should at a minimum be using your benefits to have regular hygiene cleanings and examinations to prevent and detect any early signs of cavities, gum disease, oral cancer, grinding/ clenching of teeth and other dental issues.

The benefit can also be used to update any dental work that needs to be replaced such as dentures, partial dentures, or outdated dental work. Your original teeth usually do not last forever, and neither does the stuff your dentist gave you! Keep your dental work up-to-date at a reduced cost with insurance benefits.

It is also a good idea to utilize insurance benefits before the end of the year because some providers will review pricing to determine fee increases from factors such as: increased cost of living, materials and equipment. This may increase your co-pay in the New Year, so it may be in your best financial interest to receive your benefit before any changes take place.

The holidays and end of the year are fast approaching, and dental appointments at Pro Solutions Dental Group are going fast. Don’t wait; utilize your dental insurance and make your end-of-the-year appointments today!

Dr. Rick Farnsworth is with Pro Solutions Dental Group. www.prescottdentist.com.