Word of Mouth

Benefits administrator blog from Delta Dental

Keeping dental insurance when budgets are tight

With today’s pandemic-related economic uncertainty and rising interest rates, you may find yourself with a benefits budget that’s stretched a bit thin. If you’ve considered dropping your group’s dental benefits to save money ― or don’t think you have the resources to add them ― we’ve got you covered.

DeltaCare® USA, Delta Dental’s DHMO-type product, offers comprehensive dental benefits for less than you might expect. These copay plans cover more than 400 procedures, so your employees won’t have to sacrifice quality care for affordability.

What it offers

Most DeltaCare USA plans include additional cleanings at reduced copayments, at-home teeth whitening, athletic mouthguards and porcelain crowns. And our orthodontic treatment in-progress provision allows new members to continue treatment with their current orthodontist, even if that orthodontist isn’t in our DeltaCare USA network.

Other advantages include: 

  • Tooth-colored fillings for any tooth
  • No lab fees or other hidden fees
  • No hidden charges for materials such as resins, metals or porcelain

What’s more, as a fixed copayment plan, DeltaCare USA offers your employees both convenience and simplicity:

  • No deductibles or maximums
  • No claim forms
  • Low or no copayments for diagnostic and preventive care

How it works

In most states, employees select a DeltaCare USA primary care dentist and pay their set copayment directly to the dentist. That’s it. Our primary care dentists even coordinate specialty care. An added bonus is that there’s no paperwork.

How it helps you

DeltaCare USA plans are easy to manage and offer predictable costs. Available resources include:

  • A comprehensive administrator support guide
  • A recently updated wellness library that includes a variety of helpful dental wellness content, including a risk assessment tool, wellness videos and dozens of articles

Remember, one of the biggest boosts to your budget is happy, healthy employees. Each year, over $45 billion is lost in productivity because of dental issues. When employees without coverage avoid going to the dentist or delay care, their dental issues often become more serious and may contribute to serious medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.

So if you think budgetary woes mean dental coverage might not be in your future, consider DeltaCare USA. You’ll help your employees — and your budget — stay healthy.

Take the mystery out of dental expenses with the Cost Estimator

Your employees are busy enough, so trying to figure out how to budget their dental care shouldn’t become a second job. That’s why we created the Cost Estimator, a tool available for desktop and mobile that your employees can use to estimate quickly and easily what their next dental visit will cost.

What’s more, the Cost Estimator has just been refreshed with a new, accessible and mobile-optimized design.

How can the Cost Estimator can help my employees?

The Cost Estimator provides employees with a personalized estimate (based on the fee schedule from the last dentist from whom they received service) for an entire dental visit with a specific dentist. It calculates employees’ out-of-pocket costs based on their current benefits. Information is updated daily, so your employees can always count on getting an accurate cost estimate.

This versatile and easy-to-use tool offers employees a variety of useful features and information to help them make the most of their benefits and helps them become better informed consumers.

In the tool, employees can choose from a list of common dental procedures ― they can even specify which tooth needs treatment or what type of filling they’d prefer! After they select their procedure, the Cost Estimator calculates their estimated out-of-pocket cost. The tool subtracts both the network savings and the portion the plan pays.

Other tasks your employees can perform with the Cost Estimator include:

  • Adding procedures. If employees need to add services such as a cleaning or x‑rays to their visit, they can add them to their estimate to get the total cost of the visit.
  • Comparing dentists. Employees might be curious to see if they’d save by switching to another dentist. The Cost Estimator lets them compare up to five in-network dentists to find the best deal.
  • Selecting plan members. Employees can get cost estimates for anyone on their plan, such as spouses and children.
  • Reviewing benefits usage. Employees can access the benefits activity and history for everyone on their plan, and can also review their plan’s maximums, deductibles and out-of-pocket limits.

How can the Cost Estimator help my bottom line?

The Cost Estimator provides members with transparency about their out-of-pocket costs. More cost transparency can mean fewer questions and less confusion about the value of visiting an in-network dentist. By showing the substantial cost differences between in-network and out-of-network dentist visits, the tool encourages in-network utilization — which can help members save and may help lower your group’s dental plan costs.

Is the Cost Estimator available to my group?

Yes! All Delta Dental PPO™ and Delta Dental Premier® groups are eligible to sign up for the Cost Estimator. Talk to your Sales contact to find out how to add this service to your plan.

DeltaCare® USA members receive a plan booklet with their copayments for covered services, so this tool isn’t necessary for DeltaCare USA plans.

To access the Cost Estimator, employees simply click Plan ahead for a visit from the member portal. PPO and Premier members can also access a more limited version of the Cost Estimator through the Delta Dental mobile app, which features in- and out-of-network fees.


With the Cost Estimator, your employees can be confident not only about staying within their budgets, but also that they’re getting the best deal for themselves and their families. Be sure your employees don’t miss out on this valuable resource.

Is work hurting your employees’ teeth?

When you think of risk factors for poor dental health, what comes to mind? Maybe infrequent brushing, eating too much candy or avoiding the dentist come to mind.

There’s another factor you may not have thought of: work. Various aspects of work life, from simple stress to physical labor, can contribute to poor oral health. Learn about risk factors associated with the workplace and how your employees can protect their oral health at work.

Dehydration

Did you know that dehydration can lead to bad breath, tooth decay and even gum disease? This is because dry mouth, a symptom of dehydration, allows harmful bacteria and acids to stay on our teeth.

Up to 80% of American workers are likely to work while at least slightly dehydrated. That’s not a good situation for your employees’ oral health. Employees are particularly at risk if they work outside or do strenuous labor, but even desk workers should take care to consume enough water and electrolytes. Water also rinses away harmful sugars, starches and acids, helps combat dry mouth and may provide a dose of protective fluoride.

Hydration is so important that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers provide free potable water to all employees either through drinking fountains, tap water, water coolers or water bottles!

What you can do:  Depending on your work environment, you may require or strongly encourage that employees take short water breaks at regular intervals. You could also provide reusable water bottles or post reminders about why hydration is important.

Snacking

In some workplaces, it’s policy to provide free snacks and drinks in the breakroom. In others, a few workers simply leave out bowls of for everyone to snack from. Regardless of where they come from, sugary snacks and caffeinated drinks are a staple of a lot of office workers’ diets.

But snacks are tough on your employees’ teeth. Some of the main offenders include sticky candies and chips.

What you can do: If your office provides snacks, consider including healthy, teeth-friendly alternatives if you can. You could also share articles about nutrition and oral health to help employees make healthier, informed choices.

Stress and anxiety

Projects, quotas and delivery deadlines means that work can definitely be a source of some major stress in your employees’ lives. Unsurprisingly, job stress and anxiety can lead to indulging in some unhealthy habits, such as teeth grinding, jaw clenching, nail biting, chewing on pens and pencils or binge snacking, all of which can lead to tooth damage, gum disease and canker sores.

Teeth grinding and jaw clenching can even lead to longer term issues, like temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.

What you can do: On a large scale, you can encourage mental well-being through initiatives like subsidizing gym memberships or offering employee assistance programs. Some employee stress is a result of their bosses. You can tackle this by providing leadership training or personal development and taking conflicts between managers and employees seriously.

Smoking and vaping

Whether your practice offers additional breaks to smokers or your employees find a quick smoke the best way to release stress, smoking is never a good idea. Not only is smoking one of the top risk factors for oral cancer, it can also lead to bad breath, gum disease and cavities. And while it doesn’t involve tobacco, the vapor from e‑cigarettes contains nicotine — which can lead to gum disease and tooth loss — along with other chemicals that can harm your teeth.

What you can do: The American Lung Association of Ohio, Ohio Department of Health, and Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation developed a model for a tobacco-free workplace policy that you can begin to implement. Both the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer free resources to help smokers quit.

Dental injuries

Whether from a fall, a misuse of equipment or a simple accident, dental injuries can pose a threat to everyone. Work-related dental injuries include chipped or cracked teeth, tooth loss and jaw trauma leading to temporomandibular disorders (TMJ).

In particular, issues with waiting to treat dental injuries can result in worse outcomes. If someone cracks a tooth, the American Dental Association recommends that they see a dentist as soon as possible. Immediate treatment for the injury should be rinsing the mouth with warm water to clean the area. They can also put cold compresses on their face to reduce any swelling.

What you can do: Create a policy that encourages employees to seek immediate medical attention for any potential injury, even if they feel it isn’t a big deal. Take into consideration what might discourage seeking treatment (finances, transportation, childcare or something else) and develop a plan to address each sticking point.


While work creates certain hazards for employees’ dental health, awareness can make a big difference. Sharing resources like the Delta Dental Wellness library can empower your employees to make more informed choices. Evaluate your dental benefits to and tailor them to address your employees’ risk factors.

Healthy mouth, healthy mind

Could flossing every day help prevent depression? Does having anxiety increase the risk for developing gum disease?

The relationship between mental health and oral health is a cyclical one. More and more research is revealing that keeping a healthy mouth is an important part of keeping a healthy mind, and vice versa. People with mental health issues are less likely to take proper care of their oral health, and conversely, good oral health can enhance mental and overall well-being.

For Mental Health Awareness Month this May, take some time to remind your employees of the often-overlooked relationship between dental hygiene and mental health. You can use Delta Dental resources to help them understand that caring for their oral health is a central part of caring for their mental health.

The relationship between the mouth and the mind

Oral health and mental health are more closely linked than many people realize. Mental health issues can cause people to brush and floss at irregular intervals, skip dentist visits, maintain unhealthy diets and self-medicate with smoking or drug use, resulting in gum disease and tooth decay.

Some of the mental illnesses that can negatively impact oral health include:

  • Anxiety. Anxiety and dental phobia can stop people from seeing their dentist regularly, which can harm their oral health. In addition, medications prescribed for anxiety can cause dry mouth. Without saliva to rinse away food debris, plaque and bacteria, cavities can form more easily.
  • Depression. Depression is associated with higher abuse of alcohol, coffee and tobacco, all of which can cause tooth erosion and decay. Depression can also lead to self-neglect, which results in poor oral hygiene.
  • Eating disorders. Acids from vomiting make patients with eating disorders more susceptible to tooth decay.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder. The condition often causes over-brushing that may damage gums and cause dental abrasion, mucosal lacerations or gingival lacerations.
  • Schizophrenia and psychosis. These serious mental health conditions can cause people to forego dental care, eat poorly and neglect oral hygiene. Side effects of antipsychotic and mood stabilizer drugs may include a higher susceptibility to oral bacterial infections.

Certain mental health conditions can exacerbate poor oral health, and the converse is often also true: Poor oral health can make mental health issues worse. Oral health problems can lead to more frequent pain experience, social isolation and low self-esteem, reducing quality of life and in turn diminishing mental well-being.

A recent study even showed a strong association between chronic gingivitis and subsequent depression. More research is needed to fully understand the connection, but it highlights that maintaining oral health is a crucial part of maintaining a healthy and happy life.

Helping your employees maintain their mental health and oral health

No matter what issues your employees are facing, it’s important to remind them to keep up with routine oral health care and dental visits. Encourage employees to maintain healthy habits like cutting back on sugar, reducing stress, eating a balanced diet and quitting smoking. Staying hydrated, exercising and maintaining a good social support system are also crucial to maintaining mental health through difficult times.

The following resources can help you remind employees to care for their oral health while maintaining their mental well-being. With Delta Dental resources, you can:

Mental health affects the health of the entire body, including oral health. It’s an important link that unfortunately, many people don’t understand. For Mental Health Awareness Month, remind your employees that there is no mental health without oral health.

5 ways to educate employees about oral cancer

Over 53,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with oral cancer in 2022, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. Under 60% of those who are diagnosed with this disease can be expected to survive for five years after their diagnosis, but those rates can be significantly higher when the disease is detected and treated early. Dentists are often the first to spot oral cancers, so access to regular dental care can be lifesaving.

Here are five ways you can help protect your employees from oral cancer and support employees who receive a positive diagnosis.

1. Encourage your employees to get regular dental exams

As part of regular adult dental exams, dentists check for indications of oral cancer. This typically involves performing a physical examination and may also include asking patients about risk factors and tell-tale symptoms of the disease.

In addition to making it more likely that oral cancer will be caught in its earliest stages when its more treatable, regular visits to the dentist can help your employees’ heart health and even help diagnose diabetes.

All Delta Dental plans cover diagnostic and preventive services at low or no out-of-pocket cost to members.

2. Understand the risk factors for oral cancer

Age is frequently named as the primary risk factor for oral cancer, but it isn’t the only one. Over 20% of oral cancer cases occur in patients younger than 55. Smoking or using other tobacco products is a major risk factor for the development of oral cancer, as is alcohol abuse. Additionally, certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) have been linked to oral cancer.

Fortunately, dentists are able to assist with all of these issues. For example, dentists are trained to identify the damage that smoking causes to the mouth and assist employees with quitting. As trained health professionals, dentists can also administer HPV vaccines to help protect their younger patients from developing oral cancer in the future.

To spread awareness, you can share these materials with your employees:

3. Be ready for employees’ questions

An employee who has just received a positive cancer diagnosis is likely to be experiencing a whirlwind of emotions. Once the dust settles, employees will likely have questions about the logistical side of paying for treatment, job security and resources available to them as they battle cancer. You should be prepared to answer employees’ questions about the following topics:

  • Medical and prescription drug coverage, including cancer-specific programs
  • Employee assistance and cancer navigation programs
  • Leaves of absence
  • Workplace accommodations, including flexible scheduling
  • Wellness programs

4. Educate employees on the importance of dental care

Working with a dentist to maintain dental health is essential for employees who are battling cancer. Whether an employee has not yet begun treatment, is actively undergoing treatment or has already completed it, dentists are valuable allies.

Dentists can be sure to identify treat minor oral health issues such as fillings before chemo- or radiation therapy begin. They can also help employees deal with the side effects of treatment, such as dry mouth, reduced white blood cell count, mouth sores, pain and more.

5. Be supportive, attentive and encouraging

When an employee opens up about a cancer diagnosis, it’s important to respond with empathy. There are organizations that offer training on how to best manage and assist employees undergoing cancer and other challenges. In the absence of specialized training, you can be effective communicating with employees simply by being supportive and encouraging.

Examples of supportive statements include:

  • “I don’t know exactly what you’re going through, but we’re here to help however we can.”
  • “If you want to talk about this, I’m here. If you need space, that’s OK, too.”
  • “Let me know what I can do to help you.”

Encouraging statements might sound like:

  • “You’re a valuable member of this team, and we’ll work together to keep you on it.”
  • “I want to hear how you’re doing. Let’s check in regularly.”

One thing you don’t want to do is make your employee’s situation about anything other than the employee. You might want to avoid:

  • Offering advice if the employee hasn’t asked for it.
  • Trying to cheer up the employee or brushing off their concerns. This can seem to the employee like their feelings aren’t being validated.
  • Sharing stories about yourself or others. Unless the employee asks to hear such stories, let them focus on their own experiences instead and just listen — even if listening means being OK with silence.

The most important thing you can do for employees who are confronting oral cancer is to recognize that you and your company’s place is to be an ally. You can’t fight cancer for your employees, but you can ensure that they have the support and the resources they need to give it their all.

Why leased networks don’t deliver

When it comes to dental coverage, having a large, dependable dentist network is crucial for quality dental care and reliable, cost-saving in-network access.

One of the unique advantages your employees enjoy with Delta Dental is network size. Our proprietary dentist networks are the nation’s largest. How large? Our combined Delta Dental PPO™ and Delta Dental Premier® networks feature more than 155,000 unique dentists, as of September 2021, according to Zelis Network360.

And to ensure quality care, we contract directly with each of our dentists and, most importantly, never lease our networks. That’s not the case with most other carriers, which lease dentist networks from other carriers to boost their numbers.

Of course, you might say to yourself, numbers are numbers ― if the network is large and my employees can visit a dentist, why does the type of network matter?

Because with leased networks, these numbers can be deceiving. What’s more, leased networks come with serious disadvantages for your employees.

To help understand some of these disadvantages, let’s first take a look at what leased networks are and how they work.

How leased networks work

A leased network arrangement is when one carrier agrees to share its dentist network, or a portion of it, with another carrier. A carrier can add one or many leased networks to their proprietary network.

A carrier can also share its network with a third-party insurance administrator, also known as an aggregator. Aggregators don’t own the insurance plans or pay claims. Instead, as the name suggests, aggregators lease networks from several carriers and offer participation to dentists for a fee.

Carriers profit from these arrangements by charging access fees for using their network. They may also profit from shared claim savings, which is an agreed-upon amount paid by an aggregator or carrier to the carrier whose dentist was visited to provide a service.

Leasing networks offers carriers several benefits. It allows them to expand into areas where they don’t have a network presence. It enables them to claim that they’ve increased their network size, which they can use to gain an advantage in the marketplace. And they stand to profit from access fees and shared saving.

However, these advantages for the carrier can mean disadvantages for your employees.

The downside of leased networks

Access fees

While carriers may benefit from access fees, your employees won’t. Carriers who lease networks often pass the cost of access fees on to self-funded groups by withholding claims savings. These fees can also differ from network to network.

We never charge access fees, so you can be sure your employees will get the full savings they’re entitled to.

Network size questions

Carriers that lease networks may claim that their network is “large.” But for these carriers, exactly how large can be a tough question to answer. Why? Carriers who lease networks usually have no direct contact with dentists. And since they may lease multiple networks, keeping track of dentists who leave a network, retire or fail credentialing can be a challenge. 

We update our dentist directory daily, so you know it’s accurate. And since we have relationships with our dentists, turnover is low.

Network lease timing

When you choose a dental benefits carrier, you’re locked in for the term of the contract. But that contract may not correspond to the carrier network’s lease agreements. Carrier-to-carrier leasing contracts are negotiable and can be terminated at any time. This means your employees might find the dentists they chose and depend on are suddenly no longer in their network. A leased network could lose thousands of dentists overnight.

Since we don’t lease networks, your employees can be confident knowing they can visit the dentists they know and trust.

Increased costs

When leasing contracts change, members’ expenses can increase. With renegotiated fees under a new lease, your employees may not realize their out-of-pocket costs are higher than expected until claims are processed. And these changes can happen at any time. 

That’s not the case with Delta Dental’s proprietary networks.

Inconsistent fees and billing

When a carrier leases several different dental networks, it can result in several different fee schedules, which can lead to inconsistent costs. Dentists may also be confused about how to bill enrollees, which could potentially increase the time it takes to process claims or even lead to incorrect billing. And since the leased networks are owned by different carriers, resolving any billing disputes may be difficult.

Our networks offer predictable, consistent fees and uniform billing and processing.

Quality concerns

Quality of care matters to patients and employers. But when a carrier leases multiple networks, this is difficult to guarantee. Since carriers have no relationship with the dentists in the networks they lease and contractual obligations around quality standards vary, they may not be able to confirm that these dentists’ treatment plans, safety measures and office cleanliness meet acceptable standards, nor can they guarantee that these dentists are properly credentialed.

At Delta Dental, we contract directly, maintain strong relationships and hold our dentists to high standards.


The promise of a carrier with a leased network may seem appealing, but that promise doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. With Delta Dental, you can be sure that you’ll get the network, quality and consistency that you — and your employees — can count on.

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