Word of Mouth

Benefits administrator blog from Delta Dental

HIV/AIDS resources for employees

More than a million people in the United States live with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the mouth is one of the first areas of the body that can be affected by an HIV infection. In honor of World AIDS Day on December 1, here are some tips for supporting your employees’ health.

Oral manifestations of HIV

As many as 80% of people infected with HIV experience oral manifestations. People with HIV may experience the following dental health-related issues, according to the American Dental Association (ADA):

  • Dry mouth
  • Thrush
  • White lesions on the tongue
  • Red band gingivitis
  • Ulcerative periodontitis
  • Karposi’s Sarcoma
  • Oral herpes outbreaks
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Canker sores
  • Susceptibility to infections and tooth loss

It’s important to note that symptoms alone are not a diagnosis.

Support for employees

Thanks to advances in science and technology, people living with HIV have a better outlook than ever, but proper care and maintenance is still critical.

  • Encourage your employees to keep up with their regular dental appointments and brush twice daily and flossing. Most HIV-related mouth issues are treatable, yet at least 58% of people living with HIV and AIDS don’t receive regular dental care.
  • Talk to your employees about SmileWay Wellness Benefits. If a person who’s HIV positive has an eligible Delta Dental PPO™ plan and opts in, he or she may be eligible for added benefits, including 100% coverage for one scaling and root planing procedure per quadrant and 100% coverage for four of the following in any combination: prophylaxis, periodontal maintenance or scaling in the presence of moderate or severe gingival inflammation. If your groups don’t offer this benefit, consider adding it your group’s plan
  • Share dental resources with your clients. Delta Dental offers monthly wellness campaigns for benefits administrators that include informative articles, emails, flyers and more, including content for World AIDS Day.

Learn more about World AIDS Day and HIV resources.

This campaign reminds employees to use preventive care

One of the best things your employees can do to keep their smile bright and healthy is to make good use of their diagnostic and preventive benefits. Regular trips to the dentist can help catch little problems before they become big ones, thus avoiding potentially costly and painful dental problems.

When employees make use of diagnostic and preventive benefits, it’s also good for your organization. For example, if an employee has to take sick leave to get a root canal, that represents a loss of time and money for everyone involved (especially if the issue could have been caught when a filling would have sufficed).

Enter the preventive care reminder campaign

You can use the preventive care reminder campaign to help employees of self-insured groups make the most of their benefits. This is an email campaign for employees who haven’t generated any dental claims in the past seven months. As part of this campaign, employees will receive a series of three emails. These are:

  1. An email reminding them to schedule an appoint for a cleaning and exam.
  2. A congratulatory email after their visit applauding them for taking charge of their oral health. This email will also encourage them to set a reminder to return to the dentist in six months.
  3. A reminder email to schedule another exam and cleaning (if they chose to set one).

Does this campaign really work?

Absolutely. Comparing claims data across different groups, we’ve found a substantial increase in preventive care utilization rates among employees who receive and open preventive care reminder emails compared to those who don’t.

The more employees who make use of their diagnostic and preventive benefits, the better it will be for both workers and your organization. Healthier smiles for your employees and more savings for your company. That’s what we call win-win.

Are you the benefits administrator of a self-insured group and ready to join the preventive care reminder campaign? Contact your Account Manager to sign up!

Introducing the updated Delta Dental Mobile App

Delta Dental has relaunched its free mobile application. The updated Delta Dental Mobile App is faster and more stable and offers useful features such as member ID cards, the Find a Dentist tool and a cost estimator. The new app is available for both iOS and Android devices.

The current app will be disabled after December 19, 2021. For a seamless user experience, Delta Dental members who have the app installed should first download the updated app from the App Store or Google Play and then remove the current app from their device.

Saved dentists and dependent information will be automatically transferred to the new app, and members can use their current username and password to access it.

The Delta Dental Mobile App uses the latest security technology to protect users’ personal health information. No personal health information is ever stored on your device. For more details on security, view our Privacy Policy in the app menu.

For questions about the app, or if you having trouble logging in, contact Delta Dental Plans Association.

Help your employees quit smoking for the Great American Smokeout

November is the perfect time to encourage your employees who smoke to quit. On the third Thursday of each November, the American Cancer Society sponsors the Great American Smokeout, a day to inspire people to stop smoking.

Supporting your employees through cessation is one of the most effective steps you can take to help improve their dental and overall health. In honor of the Great American Smokeout, help your employees who smoke create a plan to quit.

How smoking affects your employees’ health

About 34 million American adults smoke cigarettes, and smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. Smoking causes an estimated 480,000 deaths in the U.S. every year, or about one in five of all deaths.

The total economic cost of smoking is more than $300 billion a year, including more than $225 billion in direct medical care for adults and more than $156 billion in lost productivity.

Most people know that smoking greatly increases the risk for many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. But smoking can also take a serious toll on oral health. The damage includes:

  • Tooth discoloration. The nicotine and tar in cigarettes can cause yellow or stained teeth.
  • Cavities. Consuming nicotine reduces saliva production in the mouth, and without enough moisture, plaque and tartar easily build up on the teeth, leading to cavities.
  • Gum recession. Smoking irritates the lining of the gums, causing them to pull back from the teeth. Nicotine from smoking or vaping reduces blood flow to the teeth and gums, which also contributes to gum recession.
  • Gum disease. Smoking weakens the immune system, which makes smokers more vulnerable to developing gum disease. Smokers have twice the risk of gum disease compared with non-smokers, and that risk increases the more you smoke.
  • Tooth loss. Male smokers are up to 3.6 times more likely to lose their teeth than non-smokers, while female smokers are up to 2.5 times more likely.
  • Oral cancer. Tobacco is the major risk factor for cancers of the mouth and throat. Smokers are 10 times more likely than non-smokers to develop oral cancer.

Resources for the Great American Smokeout

Quitting smoking isn’t easy. Cessation often requires long-term support. To have the best chance of quitting and remaining smoke-free, your employees will need to know the facts: what they’re up against, what their options are and where to go for help.

Use the following resources as reminders and encouragement for your employees:

Keep your Veteran employees shining with Delta Dental

This Veterans Day, Delta Dental gives thanks to the men and women who have served our country. Every day of every year, we’re committed to providing pathways for oral health care and more for U.S. Veterans. 

On Veterans Day and throughout the year, you can use the following resources from Delta Dental to let your employees know about the options that are available for Veterans, military retirees and their families.

Meeting Veterans’ oral health care needs

Did you know that your Veteran employees may be eligible for additional coverage?

The Delta Dental Veterans Affairs Dental Insurance Program (VADIP) provides dental insurance to more than 70,000 Veterans and their family members through an individual enrollment PPO program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Through VADIP, Delta Dental provides members with reduced premiums, three plan options and access to a nationwide network of dentists. Eligible beneficiaries include any veteran enrolled in VA health care or any individual enrolled in the VA’s Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA).

Veterans whose VA coverage doesn’t include dental insurance can choose to be covered through VADIP, and even those who are eligible for VA care for some of their dental needs can still choose a Delta Dental VADIP plan for added dental insurance.

Delta Dental also seeks to meet the oral health care needs of military retirees through the Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP), a PPO program that serves both federal employees and uniformed services retirees. Through FEDVIP, Delta Dental offers a choice between two plans: The Standard Plan provides care at a low premium, while the High Plan offers greater coverage with an unlimited in-network annual maximum. With FEDVIP plans, as with all VADIP plans, 100% of preventive care is covered when the member visits an in-network dentist.

Through a recent partnership with TriWest, Delta Dental also helps provide access to care in 14 states for an estimated 1.3 million Veterans and their family members through the Veteran Affairs Community Care Network. Through the program, eligible participants can receive treatment from providers in their own communities when the VA can’t provide the care they need.

If your Veteran employees have both employer-sponsored coverage and a plan designed for Veterans, coordination of benefits is simple. They’ll need to ask their dental office to include information about both plans with their claims — Delta Dental will handle the rest.

Resources for your Veteran employees

This Veterans Day, keep your employees informed about the options available for Veterans, military retirees and their families:

  • Post a Delta Dental FEDVIP fact sheet on your website.
  • Share a flyer about VADIP.
  • Remind your employees of enrollment periods:
    • Eligible employees can choose to enroll in FEDVIP during Federal Benefits Open Season, a four-week period that occurs this year from November 8 to December 13 for coverage starting January 1, 2022.
    • Those eligible for VADIP can opt in at any time, with coverage beginning the first of the following month after enrollment.
  • Tell eligible employees about the advantages of dual coverage. For more information on coordinating Veterans benefits with employer-sponsored coverage, visit Delta Dental’s FEDVIP FAQ or the VA’s FAQ.

Delta Dental’s ongoing commitment to Veterans

Delta Dental provides almost $13 million annually in support of community health clinics, federally qualified health centers and nonprofit dental clinics, all of which help serve Veterans. In addition, the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation will give nearly $700,000 this year to support Veteran-serving organizations:

  • The American Red Cross— Armed Forces Emergency Services helps members of the military, Veterans and their families respond to the challenges of military service and civilian life afterwards.
  • The Dental Lifeline Network provides Veterans with free or discounted dental care.
  • The Joint Military Coalition, through a partnership with Delta Dental, was able to award 50 scholarships last year in the amount of $2,000 to Veterans and military members pursuing health and wellness training.

Delta Dental employees also participate in a number of volunteer and fundraising events throughout the year that support Veterans and active-duty service members:

  • Sneakers for Soldiers. Delta Dental employees run, bike and walk in an annual Veterans Day 5K to help send athletic shoes to men and women deployed in combat.
  • Carry the Load. Last Veterans Day, Marty Sheetz, Marine mom and Delta Dental Vice President of Customer Onboarding and Operations, helped organize two Carry the Load virtual 5ks with a total of 1,300 participants. The event encouraged participants to march or carry a symbolic load to represent sacrifices made by military, Veterans, first responders and their families.
  • National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic. Delta Dental helps sponsor this annual five-day sports retreat near Aspen during which Veterans with injuries or disabilities are encouraged to challenge perceived limitations.

Whether through dental insurance, through support from our foundation or through committed volunteers, Delta Dental is always seeking to provide support and care for U.S. Veterans.

How oral health can help your employees in the fight against diabetes

One in three Americans will develop diabetes at some point in their lifetime if current trends continue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chances are a significant number of your employees are — or will be — seriously affected by the disease.

The estimated annual cost of diabetes in the U.S. is more than $327 billion, meaning that almost one in four dollars spent on health care is used to care for people with diabetes. The estimated cost in lost productivity alone is $90 billion. And research shows that the higher health care spending associated with diabetes actually begins well before diagnosis.

Fortunately, early screening and detection can help delay or even prevent complications from diabetes. Evidence suggests that periodontal changes are the first clinical manifestation of the condition. Regular dental check-ups can play a crucial role in reducing the devastating toll of diabetes.

November is American Diabetes Month, so it’s the perfect time to raise awareness and share resources with your employees. It’s important to highlight the role of regular check-ups in early diagnosis, as well as the importance of oral health care in managing diabetes.

The role of oral health care in diabetes

Many of your employees with diabetes probably aren’t even aware that they have the disease. As many as 20% of people who have diabetes don’t know they do, according to the CDC, and most with prediabetes (84%) are unaware of their condition.

Diabetes causes serious problems throughout the body, and the mouth is no exception. Diabetes can increase the sugar in saliva, which feeds the bacteria that cause tooth decay and cavities. It also reduces the body’s ability to fight oral infection. People with diabetes have a higher chance of developing gum disease, which can lead to pain, chewing difficulties and even tooth loss.

An oral exam can help detect diabetes because, like many other conditions, it often shows its first symptoms in the mouth.

Oral symptoms of diabetes to watch out for include:

  • Red, tender or swollen gums
  • A reduced or altered sense of taste
  • Bleeding gums
  • Dry mouth
  • A burning sensation in the mouth
  • Chronic bad breath or bad taste
  • Teeth that are loose or separating from each other
  • Oral infections that are slow to heal

Educate your employees on diabetes and oral health

Consider posting these early warning signs on your company’s website or social media, and advise employees experiencing symptoms to tell their dentist or physician. If symptoms are detected early enough, your employees can not only delay but possibly prevent progression.

Try some of these resources to help remind your employees of the importance of early diagnosis during American Diabetes Month:

Remind employees with diabetes to take time to check their mouths regularly for any problems and to visit the dentist for check-ups and cleaning.

Offer support to employees with diabetes

If you don’t already, consider offering SmileWay® Wellness Benefits as part of your employees’ dental package. Available for Delta Dental PPO™ plans, SmileWay Wellness Benefits are specifically for employees diagnosed with chronic health conditions such as diabetes. The benefits can provide these employees with additional annual cleanings and gum treatments that help treat oral issues associated with these conditions.

Eligible enrollees can receive these added benefits each calendar or contract year:

  • 100% coverage for one scaling and root planing procedure per quadrant (D4341 or D4342)
  • 100% coverage for four procedures from the following list, in any combination:
    • Prophylaxis (D1110 or D1120)
    • Periodontal maintenance procedure (D4910)
    • Scaling in the presence of moderate or severe gingival inflammation (D4346)

If your company offers SmileWay Wellness Benefits, remind employees they can easily opt in online by logging in and navigating to the optional benefits.

During American Diabetes Month, don’t forget to remind your employees about the central role oral health can play in preventing and managing diabetes.

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