South Florida Cosmetic Dentist Explains How Cosmetic Dentistry Can Maximize Tax Deductions

Charles Nottingham, DDS, FAGD

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Fort Lauderdale Cosmetic Dentist

It’s that time of year when taxpayers think about how much they owe in taxes and how to maximize their deductions.  What does that have to do with cosmetic dentistry?  You might be surprised.


Many taxpayers don’t realize that some medical and dental expenses are tax-deductible.  If your medical/dental costs exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income, you can deduct that amount from your taxes. Eligible expenses include medical/dental insurance premiums, insurance co-pays, transportation for medical treatment (including mileage and parking), and prescriptions.  When calculating whether your expenses meet the 7.5% limit, be sure to take into account reimbursements you received from your insurance providers for your out-of-pocket costs. The eligible expenses must be itemized on Schedule A of the tax return. 


This can be good news for dental patients.  If you know that your expenses will be above the threshold for one year, you can plan on adding the costs of dental procedures – and deducting them from your taxes.
However, patients need to be careful about what they plan to deduct.  While many kinds of medical procedures for taxpayers and their dependents are considered deductible in this scenario, those which are purely cosmetic are not covered; in order to be deductible, procedures must be considered “medically necessary.”  For this reason many cosmetic surgery procedures do not quality.  Routine cleanings and preventative care, fillings, dentures, and other necessary procedures would normally be considered deductible.  However, many purely cosmetic procedures – such as tooth whitening – would not qualify.


On the other hand, many dental procedures which can be considered cosmetic also improve your health.  For example, tooth straightening procedures such as traditional metal braces or Invisalign braces not only give you an attractive smile, but can also improve the functioning of your teeth.  Teeth that don’t align properly can cause a variety of dental problems in the future. Other procedures such as crowns and bridges (prosthodontics) or oral surgery can have tremendous cosmetic benefits even if they are done for primarily oral health reasons.  Implants to replace missing or damaged teeth improve both your appearance and the functioning of your teeth.
So if you think you will exceed the 7.5% and you’ve been contemplating a big dental procedure, you should investigate whether it would likely be deductible.  Consult your dental provider about whether the procedure could be considered medically necessary – and touch base with your tax expert or read IRS guidelines to make sure it will meet the IRS’s criteria. 


Tax returns are only part of the picture for many taxpayers.  The majority will also be receiving tax refunds and will wonder what to do with this “found” money.  “Cosmetic dentistry is an investment in your future,” explains Fort Lauderdale cosmetic dentist Dr. Charles Nottingham.  “Many cosmetic procedures enhance the functioning of your teeth.  And studies have shown that having a nicer smile improves your self confidence – which, in turn, impacts how other people see you both socially and professionally.  A nice smile can have a positive ripple effect throughout your life.”