7 Rules For Deducting Medical And Dental Expenses

In past years, if you itemized your deductions, you could deduct qualified medical and dental expenses to the extent they exceeded 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). However, beginning January 1, 2013, this threshold was raised to 10%. In this article, we’ll discuss what you need to know to claim a federal income tax deduction for medical and dental expenses.

1) AGI Threshold Increase

The total of your qualified medical and dental expenses must exceed 10% of your AGI to claim a deduction. There’s one exception which we’ll discuss in the next section.


2) Temporary Exception to the 10% AGI Threshold

If married, and one spouse is at least age 65, the threshold remains at 7.5% of AGI until December 31, 2016. Beginning January 1, 2017 the threshold will be 10% for all taxpayers.


3) You Must Itemize

You must itemize your deductions (i.e.; Schedule A) in order to qualify. You cannot use the standard deduction and claim medical and dental expenses.


4) When Are Medical Expenses Considered Paid?

You must have paid medical expenses during the calendar year. If you paid by check, the date you mailed or delivered the check is usually the qualifying date of payment.


5) Qualified Costs And Expenses

You may use any medical or dental costs you paid for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents. However, if you were reimbursed by insurance or another source, your deduction will be reduced by the amount of the reimbursement. In general, any legitimate medical expenses will qualify, including the costs of diagnosing, treating, easing, or preventing disease. This also includes the cost of health and dental insurance premiums and possibly long-term care insurance premiums. Also on the list are eye exams, eye glasses, contact lenses, and eye surgery. The list of qualified expenses is quite extensive. To find everything you’ll need to know about deducting medical and dental expenses, click the following link which will take you to the IRS website and to the specific publication on this subject.  


6) Travel Costs

You may be able to claim the cost of travel for medical care. This includes public transportation, ambulance, tolls, parking fees, etc. If you used your personal automobile, you may be able to deduct 24 cents per mile for 2013.


7) No Double Benefits

If you participate in a Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Arrangement and you used either to pay for medical expenses, you cannot claim a tax deduction as these funds are usually withdrawn on a tax-free basis.


You may order tax forms by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676)




How healthy are your teeth? Children’s Dental Health Month reveals most damaging foods


(FEBRUARY 26, 2014) – It’s Children’s Dental Health Month and experts are reminding parents of the importance of teaching children healthy habits early.

“Our mouth is the gateway to our body,” said Dr. John Clauss with Simply Dental in Fishers.

“There’s a lot of research showing gum disease has a link to heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, things like that, so it’s not just our mouth that’s affected it’s our overall health,” he said.

Children should start seeing a dentist regularly when they are two or three years old unless there are obvious problems.

Dr. Clauss said many parents think baby teeth don’t matter because children lose them anyway, but he said it’s still essential to take care of them.

“The baby teeth do a couple of different things. They save space for the permanent teeth and also they’re there to chew with, so if you don’t fix a tooth it…

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$300 toothbrush tells your friends that your teeth are shining

Photo Credits: AFP

Barcelona:  The world’s first smart toothbrush was unveiled on Monday, allowing you to improve your dental hygiene while sharing the results online with your dentist or to impress your friends.

Dental cleaning sessions last two minutes, divided into four 30-second segments, one for each corner of your mouth.

Shown off on the opening day of the four-day World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the brush is connected by Bluetooth wireless technology to your smartphone, and thus to the network.

“It is a world first,” said Michael Cohen-Dumani, head of Procter & Gamble’s Oral-B brand, which plans to sell the product in Europe, the United States and Asia from June.

Sold for 219 euros ($300), the brush relays your toothbrushing activity to an application on the smartphone, recording whether you respect the two-minute rule and whether you brush hard, but not too hard.

If the results are satisfactory, a message appears on your smartphone: “Congratulations: your teeth are shining.”

It also lets you share the information on social networks or directly with your dentist.

“Today we can see the smartphone’s potential to change people’s habits,” Cohen-Dumani told AFP.

“It is really that trend towards the ‘quantified self'”, the desire to record everything, to follow your sports activities, the calories you consume or what you spend, thanks to new technologies.

The world’s largest mobile fair is a showcase for that trend, with smartphone markers unveiling an array of smart watches and bracelets that can count your steps or track your heart rate, and even wifi-connected scales to keep an eye on your weight.

Larger objects, too, are getting hooked up to the network, from cars and fridges to a shop dressing room that lets you ask for new sizes and colours to try on without leaving the cabin.



February Is National Children’s Dental Health Month; Let’s Work Together To Eradicate the Dental Health Epidemic in Children | Commentary

The health and well-being of children is one of the few issues a majority of Americans readily support without much argument. It’s an issue that rises above the usual disagreements of those from opposing political parties, or from widely divergent backgrounds. We have, as a nation historically, fought for the health and safety of the youngest, voiceless, and powerless among us.

From the child labor laws of the 1900s that kept children out of dangerous factories, to the immunization efforts that have all but eradicated once-deadly childhood illnesses, and the insurance programs that ensure coverage for those who might otherwise go without, we have, as a society, put a great deal of muscle behind the issues that keep our kids safe.

Even with all of this progress, one crucial area where we are failing our children remains: dental health care.

Minor as it may sound in the grand scheme, poor oral health care among children is a growing epidemic that not only affects their teeth, but also their intellectual and social development, and overall health. According to a report by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), tooth decay in young children can lead to malnutrition, life-threatening infections, poor school performance, and reluctance to speak, smile and play.

By the age of five, about 60 percent of U.S. children will have tooth decay. Despite the AAPD’s recommendation that all children have their first dental exam no later than their first birthday, the reality is that only one in four parents surveyed actually took their children for a dental visit in the first year.

The reasons behind this void in important children’s health care are varied. Lack of education certainly plays a role. Research indicates that parents — particularly in low-income families — fail to understand the importance of oral health in children and how diet and brushing contributes to it. Lack of insurance coverage for children’s dental care is also notable, although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) makes pediatric dental coverage an essential health benefit available through the state insurance exchanges. This coverage, however, is often optional and the number of children gaining dental coverage is still uncertain.

Yet even with the ACA’s expanded coverage potential, roadblocks remain. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), approximately 80 percent of dentists do not accept patients with Medicaid, or state Children’s Health Insurance Plans (CHIP), citing, among other reasons, low reimbursement for their services.

This month, National Children’s Dental Health Month, provides a timely opportunity to reflect on where we can continue to make improvements for the sake of all our children. Continued progress can be made under ACA in the state and federal exchange to provide affordable options to parents who recognize that oral health is a vital component of a child’s overall health.

In the interim, dental providers should do all they can to provide care to children who might otherwise not have access to dental care. For example, my Kool Smiles practices and more than a hundred others nationwide, have focused our efforts in underserved communities that have historically lacked sufficient providers for the Medicaid patient population. We not only welcome children and families in need of otherwise unattainable dental care, but we partner with communities and educators to increase awareness about health dental habits and maintaining good oral health care for life.

Our nation’s long-standing commitment to the health of our children is an ongoing effort, and one that must never fade from our attention. I hope that this month – and year round – dental providers, policymakers, parents and the public can encourage and support improvements that ensure our children’s healthy, happy smiles for generations to come.



A Mouthful of Information About Your Child s Teeth

With February being national child’s dental health month, I though this week, I’d extract the fact from the fiction when it comes to your child’s teeth and in doing so, fill your dental knowledge cavity.

1.     For example, a common myth is that sugar directly causes cavities.  Actually sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth and allows them to thrive and the increased bacteria produce large amounts  of acid acid that breaks down teeth.

2.     Another myth about cavities is that cavities only form where you can see them, but decay can occur wherever leftover food particles that contain sugar and other bacterial nutrients get stuck to further grow the bacteria and in turn the acid to destroy the space between and behind teeth that you cannot easily see.

3.     Which suggests another myth—kids are more likely to get cavities than adults—actually thanks to the help of sealants on the teeth placed by your child’s dentist or sometimes even your child’s health care provider, fluoridated water, and good brushing and flossing, the amount of tooth decay in kids has been reduced in half over the past 20 years—leaving adults more prone to cavities than kids.

4.     Another common misbelief is that brushing is more important than flossing—but flossing, even at an early age is more effective at cleaning out food particles that get stuck between teeth than brushing—so flossing can and should start during the toddler and preschool years.

5.     Parents also have told me they don’t think their infant needs to see a dentist since they have no teeth. Actually as soon as the first tooth comes in or by year one, a dental visit is recommended to pick up problems that can cause dental issues up the road.

6.     It’s also commonly thought that baby teeth aren’t important compared to adult teeth.  Actually when a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent tooth comes in too quickly fills the empty space and blocks other teeth from coming in so they push and make teeth appear crooked or crowded.

Hopefully tips like this will provide more than a mouthful of information and allow you not to make a myth-take when it comes to knowing the fact versus the fiction of good dental care of your child’s teeth.

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Oral health is much more than a cosmetic concern

As a primary care doctor, much of my focus is on preventive care. While most patients anticipate my promoting the benefits of a healthy heart, balanced diet and regular exercise, many are surprised when I emphasize the importance of oral health.

Study after study has linked oral health to overall health. Dental problems may affect conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, poor nutrition, systemic infection and even preterm labor.


Studies also have shown correlations between poor dental health and poor school performance for children. Untreated dental disease can have lasting, damaging effects on children’s development by disrupting sleep, and making it harder to learn and communicate.


We also know that prevention is effective, and that untreated dental problems ultimately lead to a lifetime of unhealthy adult teeth and expensive dental treatment. Yet, I have seen firsthand many patients, in particular low-income adults and children, who struggle to get the dental care they need.


When the Washington State Board of Health recently released recommendations aimed at improving the oral health of all Washington residents, it was the first time the state formally recognized that dental diseases impact general health.


The board recommendations urge us all – health care professionals, government, social service agencies and citizens – to support efforts that improve oral health and advocate for collaboration. Doctors, nurses and pharmacists are urged to incorporate oral health into their practices and dentists to partner with social service agencies to help young mothers, seniors, diabetics, and low-income children and adults get the dental care they need.


The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has long been a proponent of similar strategies. Its oral health program is based on the guiding principles that it is in everyone’s interest to look after the whole body – including the mouth.


The Health Department has raised doctors’ awareness that they play an important role in the oral health of our children by emphasizing the integration of oral care into well-child checks.


Pierce County’s poorest children also are able to get the dental care they need through ABCD (Access to Baby and Child Dentistry), a nationally recognized program that ensures children age 6 and under see a dentist. ABCD establishes a referral network of doctors, dentists, social service agencies and early childhood development programs to identify and reach out to low-income children and their parents.


In the past, some of my patients with painful mouth problems had to go to the emergency room for care. Some even stood outside a clinic at 6 a.m., hoping an opening might appear that day.


I look forward to the day when patients are no longer turned away due to lack of available services. Even better, we can prevent cavities from happening in the first place.


Community water fluoridation is lauded by the Centers for Disease Control as one of the top 10 public health achievements of the last century. Yet in Pierce County, just 44 percent of county residents have access to fluoridated water, well below the state’s 65 percent and the national average of 74 percent.


Individuals also need to do their part by taking care of their teeth. Brush twice a day and floss daily. Get a regular dental check-up. Every cavity you prevent saves you money and protects you from the risks of infection.


It’s time we rethink oral health as a necessity for healthy living, not a cosmetic luxury. We can do better. We can all be healthier.

Dr. Stephen Cook is a family physician at Paladina Health and member of the Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health.

2014 National Pet Dental Health Month – Feline Dental Disease

Does your cat’s mouth seem a bit tender when touched or is she more cautious when she eats? Your cat may be suffering from dental disease. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 70 percent of cats show some sign of oral disease by age three. Cats can develop plaque and tartar build up just like people. This is caused by oral bacteria and food. Remember, cats never brush their teeth! Continue reading