Paying for dental expenses can be tricky, even for those with dental insurance. Fortunately, a health savings account (HSA) can be used for medical expenses and dental costs, including necessary dental procedures and copays.
Save money with an HSA for times when your dental insurance only partially covers treatments such as dental cleanings, tooth extractions, or fillings to keep your mouth and gums healthy and free of infection. Read on to learn everything you need to know about HSAs for dental savings.
Benefits of Using an HSA for Dental Expenses
An HSA is a personal account that you can use to set aside a certain amount from your paycheck for medical and dental costs. One of the most significant benefits of setting up an HSA is that the money goes into the account before federal taxes are taken out. Many states also have tax breaks for HSA holders. Other benefits include:
- Optional automatic paycheck withdrawal
- Optional manual contributions, even from someone else on behalf of the account holder
- The money in the account never expires
- Self-employed individuals can also open an HSA
- You are issued a debit card for easy use
- Funds can be used for many different medical, dental, and vision expenses
How to Set Up an HSA for Dental Expenses
To open an HSA, you must first be enrolled in a high-deductible health plan. Enrollment in any other plan, even Medicare, will disqualify you from opening a health savings account.
Opening an HSA through your employer is straightforward. Your employer will provide the enrollment paperwork. On the other hand, if your employer does not offer an HSA or you are self-employed or a contractor, you can open an HSA yourself.
Self-Employment HSA Enrollment Steps
To set up an HSA when you are self-employed or a contractor, use the following steps:
Step 1: Enroll in a high-deductible health plan through an insurance company of your choosing. Ensure it is HSA-eligible. Alternatively, many banking institutions offer HSAs with differing benefits and stipulations. You can choose which best suits your needs.
Step 2: Once enrolled in an HSA, link your bank account for one-time or recurring deposits into your HSA. You can also transfer money from another HSA or an IRA.
Step 3: When you file your taxes at the end of the year, you will file a line-item deduction on your Schedule C.
Considerations for Finding HSA Providers
As you search for the right HSA provider for you and your family, a few things to consider are:
- Do you have money to open the account? Some providers require no money to open the account, while others have a set amount you must immediately put into the HSA.
- Know the fees. Some providers require a certain balance to remain in the account. If you dip into the money and the amount goes below this requirement, you could accrue monthly fees.
- Who will be using the account? You can open an HSA as an individual, with your spouse, or for all your dependents. Depending on who the HSA is for, some providers offer more family-friendly benefits that let multiple people access the account and make mobile deposits.
- Does your employer offer to match your contributions? If you are trying to decide between going through your employment or finding your own provider, check if your employer matches contributions in the HSA.
Maximizing HSA Funds for Dental Care
While HSA funds can be used for dental care, it is vital that you understand which procedures qualify. If you swipe your HSA debit card at the dentist's office for a procedure that is not covered, you could end up with a 20% penalty on top of being taxed for the dental expense.
What Dental Expenses Are HSA Eligible?
Read over your HSA information carefully for specific, outlined expenses that are covered. Generally, your health savings account can be used for treatments and procedures that benefit your oral or overall health.
Can You Use HSA for Tooth Extractions?
Yes, tooth extractions costs can be paid for with an HSA. When a tooth needs to be extracted, it is for the mouth's overall health.
In the case of wisdom tooth removal, the extraction prevents the mouth from getting overcrowded with teeth, causing them to misalign, which makes them more prone to developing cavities. Wisdom teeth also cause many issues when they erupt and can become infected and painful.
Can You Use HSA for Dental Fillings?
Yes, fillings are a restorative procedure that an HSA covers. If you have tooth decay, having the cavity filled with either gold, porcelain, silver amalgam, or composite resin will seal the hole and prevent bacteria and food debris from getting inside, causing the tooth to decay further.
Fillings benefit your oral health by stopping tooth decay, saving your tooth and keeping you from experiencing excruciating pain from a toothache.
Can HSA Be Used for Dental Implants?
An HSA can cover dental implants if it is a restorative procedure and not for cosmetic purposes.
If you lose a tooth from either blunt force trauma or tooth decay, getting a dental implant can certainly benefit your oral health. Not only does it replace your tooth so that you can eat and talk normally, but it also prevents further tooth loss.
When the jaw bone is no longer stabilizing a tooth's root, the bone begins to dissolve. This can cause the teeth on either side of the lost tooth to fall into the open gap over time.
Can You Use HSA Funds for Braces?
Yes. While braces benefit your smile, they are also important for oral health. Straight teeth aligned perfectly with the lower or upper teeth are easier to keep clean. Braces also correct overbites and underbites.
Can Your HSA Funds Be Used for a Dental Teeth Cleaning?
Yes. Scraping away hardened plaque is essential for a healthy mouth. Bacteria, found in plaque, feast on the sugars found in the foods you eat and create an acid that eats through the enamel of your teeth. This can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.
Can You Use an HSA for Dentures?
If dentures are needed for eating and talking because of severe tooth loss, your HSA will cover the expense. However, if you want dentures for purely cosmetic reasons, your HSA will not cover the cost.
Can You Use an HSA for Fluoride Treatments?
Dental insurance does not always cover the cost of a fluoride treatment, even though it greatly benefits your oral health. Fluoride treatments give added protection against developing cavities between visits to the dentist.
Dental Procedures That Are NOT Covered by an HSA
If the procedure does not directly benefit your health or is considered general health items such as floss, toothpaste, and mouthwash, you cannot use your HSA funds to pay for it. Cosmetic procedures are not eligible for HSA funds, including teeth whitening.
However, it is possible to use HSA money on specialty electric toothbrushes or water flossers if you have a written prescription from your dentist.
Tips for Maximizing HSA Funds for Dental Care
Getting the most out of your HSA will help you have more money for out-of-pocket dental expenses and can even help you save for retirement.
- Making monthly contributions to your HSA will keep it growing steadily.
- Contribute the max amount you can for each year you work because you cannot contribute once you go on Medicare.
- $3,850 is the 2023 max amount you can contribute as an individual
- $7,750 is the 2023 max amount you can contribute as a family
- After the age of 65, you can withdraw the money for any expense without a 20% fee.
- Getting your HSA through your employer can save you money because your contributions are not subject to Social Security and Medicaid taxes in this case.
Alternatives to HSA for Dental Savings
While opening an HSA provides multiple benefits, other ways of saving money for dental expenses exist.
Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
An FSA is a personal account attached to an employer's health plan. While it can be used for dental care, it has more flexibility than an HSA and can even pay for expenses such as child care.
But FSA funds do not roll over to the next year, and if you leave your employer, you also leave whatever money was in your FSA.
Dental insurance makes going to the dentist easier, knowing you won't pay a large dental bill with every procedure. Americans can expect to pay between $14-56 a month for dental insurance, which is reasonably affordable.
Though monthly premiums can be a low cost, there are still expenses like copays and deductibles, quite high in some cases, that will be out-of-pocket expenses.
Discounted Dental Plan
By joining a discounted dental plan, you will pay a small monthly or annual fee to get significant discounts on dental procedures. Through dental services, such as the Smile Generation Dental Plan, you can get discounts of 20-50% off of common dental procedures and treatments that your mouth needs to stay healthy.
Find a Dentist in Your Community
The most important thing is getting the dental care you need to stay healthy. Opening a health savings account is an excellent way to get the oral health care you need while not having out-of-pocket costs. Regular visits to the dentist can make a big difference in the health of your teeth. To find the right dentist, check out Smile Generation's Find a Dentist tool for reviews and descriptions of dentists in your community.
- "Dental Filling Options." ADA, 1 May 2023, https://www.mouthhealthy.org/all-topics-a-z/dental-filling-options
- Kim, P, "Average Cost of Dental Insurance Will Scare You" CreditDonkey, 23 Feb. 2021, https://www.creditdonkey.com/average-cost-dental-insurance.html
- "High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) & Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)." HealthCare.Gov, 1 May 2023, https://www.healthcare.gov/high-deductible-health-plan/hdhp-hsa-work-together/
- Long, Kelley C. "9 Facts about HSAs that Might Surprise Your Clients." Journal of Accountancy, 24 Jan. 2023, https://www.journalofaccountancy.com/news/2023/jan/9-facts-hsa-that-might-surprise-your-clients.html
- "Publication 969 (2022), Health Savings Accounts and Other Tax-Favored Health Plans." IRS, 4 May, 2023, https://www.irs.gov/publications/p969
Smile Generation blog articles are reviewed by a licensed dental professional before publishing. However, we present this information for educational purposes only with the intent to promote readers’ understanding of oral health and oral healthcare treatment options and technology. We do not intend for our blog content to substitute for professional dental care and clinical advice, diagnosis, or treatment planning provided by a licensed dental professional. Smile Generation always recommends seeking the advice of a dentist, physician, or other licensed healthcare professional for a dental or medical condition or treatment.