It’s January – time to make a date with your dentist! As you fill up your calendar, don’t forget important dental health events throughout the year. Use these tips to make sure your busy schedule includes the right dental dates and reminders for you and your family.

Tip #1: January is time to double-check flex spending balances and plan guidelines.

For some flex spending accounts, you must incur healthcare expenses by December 31st of the plan year in order for them to be eligible for reimbursement and you have until March 15 of the following year to submit expenses for reimbursement. However, many plans have a grace period, meaning that you have up to March 31 to submit claims. Check with your benefits specialist to make sure you get maximum use of your plan.

Tip #2: February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Time to invite your dentist to visit your school.

Each February in honor of this occasion, dentists, dental hygienists and other team members are invited to visit local schools. Ask us about scheduling a visit for your school if you’re interested. The American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month each February to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Parents or teachers can check out the ADA website for free online resources that can help with oral health presentations, ideas for the classroom or at-home learning and coloring and activity sheets. Or check out free online resources for parents on the Kids’ Corner page of our website.

Tip #3: Put a “toothbrush tickler” in your calendar every three months.

Whether it’s the 1st of January, April, July and October or another three-month trigger, change out your toothbrush at least every three months. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that adults replace their toothbrushes at least every three to four months, and that children’s toothbrushes should be replaced even more frequently. Toothbrush bristles don’t clean teeth as well after becoming frayed and worn. Also, bacteria grows on toothbrushes because of moist bristles.

Tip #4: Schedule dental visits when you change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time.

On March 12, 2017 it will be time to Spring Ahead! This bi-annual routine works as a reminder to check smoke detector batteries at home every six months. It can work for reminding yourself to schedule six-month dental checkups, too!

Tip #5: Milestone birthdays at ages 1 or 7 mean a new reason to have their smile checked.

If you have a child who’s about to turn one, it’s time to schedule their well baby dental checkup. The ADA recommends (and Beautiful Smiles Family Dental Center agrees) that children should be seen by a dentist within six months of the eruption of their first tooth, or at the time of their first birthday. Your dentist can check teeth and gum health for young smiles, even before baby teeth are all present. And we can help answer questions about fluoride use, nutrition, brushing and flossing and even thumb sucking to help young parents care for little smiles. And the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children be seen by an orthodontist by age 7 to detect signs of bite and jaw issues that could warrant orthodontic treatment. Contact us to learn more about what to expect during these ortho visits.

Tip #6: Spring into action and protect your smile! Make athletic mouth guards required protective sports gear for spring sports.

Make a calendar reminder to get a new mouth guard or make sure your child’s existing mouth guard still fits before their first soccer or baseball practice this spring. If they’re still losing teeth or have permanent teeth coming in, their bite will change frequently, which may require a new mouth guard each sports season. Did you know that more soccer players experience dental-related and orofacial injuries than football? Mouth guards can help prevent teeth and jaw injuries, which is especially important for kids undergoing orthodontic treatment.

Tip #7: August and September means “Back Tooth Cool” time.

Back-to-school season is the perfect time to make sure everyone has healthy smiles, especially since dental-related pain and illness is a big reason for missed school in York County. If the kids aren’t up to date on six-month dental checkups, make sure to take care of this before school starts.

Tip #8: October is flex time.

Make sure you’re wisely budgeting and using flex spending dollars for eligible medical and dental expenses, or you could lose out on unused dollars. And October or November is typically the time to budget next year’s flex contributions. Your dentist can help you anticipate needed treatment to wisely budget next year’s flex account.

Tip #9: By December 1, schedule year-end dental treatment.

Don’t wait until the last minute for needed dental treatment if you want to make sure you can get appointments in by year end and fully use this year’s insurance benefit! Late December appointments can fill up quickly. Put a note in your calendar before Thanksgiving to make needed dental and medical appointments before year-end, so you don’t get caught in the rush or lose out on insurance benefits you can use!

A little planning now to trigger dental-related reminders throughout the year can help you smile brighter and healthier throughout 2017!

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At Beautiful Smiles Family Dental Center in Etters, Pennsylvania, Dr. Graver and Dr. Koop offer many techniques to keep your smile beautiful! We are always concerned about your comfort. Please call us if you have any questions about how our services may benefit you or someone you know.