Is cosmetic dentistry tax deductible?

Only medically necessary dental treatments are deductible, such as dental cleanings, sealants, fluoride treatments, x-rays, fillings, braces, extractions, dentures, and dentistry-related prescription drugs. Cosmetic procedures (such as veneers and teeth whitening) and nonprescription drugs are not tax-deductible. Although the IRS clearly states that some cosmetic dentistry procedures are not tax-deductible, it is not as explicit with others. The determining factor is usually whether treatment is medically necessary.

For example, if you have health problems that adversely affect your teeth, part of the cost of treatment is likely to be covered by your insurance and a percentage of the rest may be tax-deductible. Many people use this opportunity to reduce the cost of more optimal treatments that may not be fully covered by dental insurance. While preventive treatments and treatments that relieve dental diseases are always medically necessary, cosmetic or cosmetic procedures are rarely necessary and therefore may not qualify as deductible dental expenses. In fact, people often seek treatment from dental professionals because they would like their crooked teeth to straighten or their stained teeth to be whitened.

The IRS explicitly states that expenses associated with cosmetic surgery, including cosmetic dentistry, are not eligible for tax deductions. Only dental procedures related to the prevention or treatment of oral conditions qualify for the deduction. You can't deduct cosmetic treatments, such as teeth whitening or porcelain veneers, for example. Cosmetic dentistry includes a number of procedures that can help patients achieve a whiter, brighter smile.

For example, reconstructive surgery for a person who suffered an accident or other trauma is considered a tax-deductible expense. However, there is a fine line between what is considered a restorative cosmetic procedure and what is purely cosmetic dentistry. You can't deduct funeral or burial expenses, nonprescription drugs, toothpaste, toiletries, cosmetics, a trip or program for general health improvement, or most cosmetic surgeries. Cosmetic dentistry covers a wide range of dental procedures that are used to improve the appearance and functionality of teeth.

The good news is that tax deductions for Invisalign and other dental procedures can also include expenses for your spouse or any dependents. Patients should make sure to inform their dental professional if they plan to use the procedure as a deductible expense, as the procedure will need to be properly coded in their history to be eligible for the tax deduction. While it can be difficult to determine if a cosmetic dentistry procedure is deductible, a good sign is if your health insurance considers a procedure to be medically necessary. Also, if you don't have a plan that pays your premiums with pre-tax dollars, your dental insurance premiums may qualify as a deductible.

If you have dental insurance, you can deduct the cost of your insurance that is not paid with pre-tax payroll deductions through your employer. If you list your deductions for a taxable year in Schedule A (Form 1040), Itemized Deductions, you may be able to deduct the expenses you paid that year for medical and dental care for you, your spouse, and your dependents. Basically, any procedure performed to improve your overall oral health qualifies for a tax deduction. As American Cosmetic Dentistry points out, often a medically necessary procedure can also have aesthetic results.


Colette Frei
Colette Frei

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