Only 70 percent of people utilize their dental insurance within a year, according to a study by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). With 2010 coming to a close, it is advantageous to review your benefits that may be expiring by year's end.

The American Dental Association recommends an exam and teeth cleaning twice a year to help prevent dental decay and periodontal disease. These services are often covered at 100 percent by insurance plans. Unfortunately, many people do not realize the value of their dental insurance, or do not realize they have dental coverage through their employer. Therefore, it is important to know if you carry dental insurance and understand how to utilize it to its fullest advantage.

Most dental insurance plans cover preventive services such as teeth cleaning, exams and X-rays at 80 to 100 percent. Typically, teeth cleanings and exams are allowed twice a year and X-rays are covered once a year. Other dental services are covered between 50 to 100 percent depending on the insurance plan. Dental insurance plans are provided through the member's employer or are purchased directly by members. If a member has been enrolled through their employer, the member may be paying partial of the membership via each paycheck.

Insurance plans provide each member an amount of money per year to be utilized towards dental treatment. Most dental insurance benefits expire on Dec. 31 and cannot be carried over into the following year. If the member does not use the allotted amount, the remaining benefit is lost. However, if the benefit is met for the year, and more dental treatment is needed, the member will be expected to pay entirely until the benefit renews at the next year. Therefore, it is very important to utilize the benefits to its maximum each year for preventive and needed dental treatment.

With 2011 around the corner, it is advantageous to review your benefits or call your dentist to see how much benefit you may have left for this year. Why lose your insurance, when you can use it!

Dr. Rashmi (Rush) Bhatnagar, DMD, MPH, can be contacted at (480) 598-5900 or visit


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