Out of the millions of people who avail of dental insurance only a very small percentage of them are able to reach or exceed their plan’s annual maximum.

When you’re paying for dental care through your hard-earned dollars, the last thing you’d want is for them to go to waste.

Most insurance companies set the benefit deadline on December 31, and any unused benefits won’t roll over and add to your next year’s benefits.

Here are some tips on how to maximize your dental insurance benefits before we say goodbye to 2016.

Maximizing your dental insurance before the end of the year

Prevention is better than cure

It is amazing how this age-old cliché applies even in your dental benefits.

If you don’t have any teeth that need fixing, then go for preventive procedures.

Aside from keeping your teeth healthy, the costs for preventive visits are actually 100% covered by most plans.

So if you don’t know what to do with your dental plan yet, then now is a good time to visit your dentist and start the coming year with a healthy smile.

Plan your next year’s coverage early

Think about your insurance coverage for next year as early as now.

If you can, make a plan on how you’ll maximize it.

Start by paying a visit to your dentist as soon as possible to determine what your needs are and which treatment or procedure you might need for the entire year.

Schedule your appointment now so you can take care of all the planning before the year ends.

Once you learn what your dental needs could possibly be, read your insurance documents, visit the insurance company’s website, or contact your insurance provider to determine which procedures are covered.

More often than not, your dentist will also do research on this too.

Opt for a Flexible Spending Account

A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is a good alternative option for dental insurance. You can set up your account through your employer.

Its advantage over the more traditional dental plan is that you can choose how much money to set aside and put into your account.

Even better, the amount added to your FSA is not subject payroll taxes.

Basically, FSA works pretty much like a debit card that you can use whenever you need to pay for your medical and dental expenses.

You can also use it to purchase products available at your local pharmacy.

Dentist products and services covered by FSAs include professional cleaning, orthodontic treatment, dentures, and any other dental treatment that are necessary to maintain or preserve dental health.

Unfortunately, FSA also has an end-of-the-year deadline.

But unlike plans, most FSA has a grace period of 2 ½ months. Some may even allow you to carry over as much as $500 to your next year’s funds.

Any funds left after the grace period or above the allowable $500 is automatically forfeited.

To prevent this, plan with your dentist carefully and avoid putting in more money than you think you’ll need.

The year 2017 is fast approaching and it will be here before you know it.

That’s how fast time flies, and with it is the validity of your dental benefits.

Now is the perfect time to check your dental plan documents and find out if you should get that dental appointment really soon.