Unfortunately, many people skip visits to the dentist because they think it’s too expensive, neglecting the fact that not getting proper dental care can be more expensive than paying for the care, resulting in nearly $5700 in savings each year, depending on what other medical conditions you may have.

But if you’re considering the affordability of dental care, don’t forget to include the potential tax deductions for dental care, which–with other medical care expenses–can amount to a total of 10% of your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), so it can make a significant difference, just make sure not to deduct expenses paid for with pre-tax flex dollars.

What Is Deductible?

In general, the IRS allows deductions of all general and reconstructive dentistry procedures, including all payments of fees to dentists. The only exception is “cosmetic dentistry,” though, as we’ll see, the IRS’ definition of cosmetic dentistry might differ from your insurance company’s.

The IRS’ Publication 502 specifically lists the following as being deductible:

  • X-rays
  • Fillings
  • Extractions
  • Dentures
  • Regular dental checkups
  • Sealants
  • Fluoride treatments
  • Braces

Dental treatments designed to prevent or treat dental disease are deductible. So gum disease treatment, along with different preventive treatments are deductible.

There are some deductions people often forget, too. For example, dental insurance premiums are deductible, unless you’re paying them with pre-tax dollars–talk to your employer, insurance company, or tax preparer about this. And in most cases you can deduct travel expenses for going to and from your dentist, which can make it easier to pick a quality dentist in a suburb as opposed to downtown Las Vegas.

What Is Not Deductible?

As we mentioned, cosmetic dentistry procedures are not considered deductible. The IRS specifically mentions teeth whitening, and it’s likely that porcelain veneers wouldn’t be, either, but the inclusion of braces in the list of deductible treatments means they’re probably willing to accept any procedure that is health-related but may also have significant cosmetic benefits.

And before you get the idea, home care expenses such as toothpaste or dental floss are not deductible, even if you invest in an expensive toothbrush or dental irrigator.

What about Dental Implants?

Although many dental insurance companies list dental implants as being “cosmetic” and don’t cover them, it’s likely that dental implants are considered deductible by the IRS. The IRS uses the example of breast reconstruction to distinguish between deductible medical treatment and nondeductible cosmetic treatment. Breast reconstruction, although providing a cosmetic benefit, is deductible, the IRS says, because it’s done to correct the damage of a specific disease or condition.

Since tooth loss is normally due to gum disease or tooth decay, recognized diseases, then it’s likely that dental implants would be deductible, though you should talk to your tax preparer first.

If you are considering dental care in Las Vegas, please call (702) 873-0324 for an appointment at the office of Dr. James B. Polley.