The end of the year is on the horizon, and with it comes the beginning of a new benefits year for most plans! In most cases, benefits from 2021 won’t roll over to plans that start on January 1, 2022, so it’s a good idea to remind your employees to take advantage of their remaining annual maximums.
By having their final cleaning or getting a toothache checked out, your employees are maximizing their plans. Your employees can also take advantage of programs like BrushSmart, which gives Delta Dental members exclusive discounts to help them transform their oral health.
With the challenges and disruptions of the pandemic, 2021 looked very different from many years that came before it. But Delta Dental’s devotion to giving back to the community hasn’t wavered. We’re committed to caring for our dentists, customers and communities, especially during hard times. Here’s how Delta Dental gave back during a challenging 2021.
Preparing for the future
The Delta Dental Community Care Foundation’s Access to Care Grants totaled more than $12 million in 2021. Dental clinics across the country — from the Kids’ Community Clinic in Burbank, California, to the Ryan Health Center in New York — received these awards to help underserved individuals in our communities get preventive and restorative treatments in accessible locations.
Our scholarships and research grants supported partnerships for education and the development of future dental professionals. Our educational giving included a $700,000 donation to make the CATCH Healthy Smiles oral health program free in schools across the country for children in kindergarten through second grade. The program is designed to improve the oral health of students by teaching about and encouraging proper toothbrushing and flossing techniques, a nutritious diet and regular visits to a dentist.
Fighting food insecurity and responding to disaster
Forty-two million people may face hunger in the U.S. — including more than 13 million children — because of the pandemic, according to Feeding America. Delta Dental is committed to addressing food insecurity. In 2021, we gave $1.5 million to food banks to help them respond to the challenges of the pandemic and serve communities in need.
This year was also marked by natural disasters, and Delta Dental was there to provide support. Through our Disaster Fund, we continued our longtime partnership with the Red Cross. We also provided support for wildfire recovery in California and helped with recovery from Hurricane Ida in New Orleans through the Greater New Orleans Project and the St. Bernard Project.
Delta Dental has four employee-led community councils that provide small grants to causes and events that employees are passionate about. In 2021, we funded a broad range of causes and issues through our community councils, from social justice and education to chronic disease research and education. Local nonprofits received roughly $700,000 from our community councils.
Service is a core value at Delta Dental. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, many of our employees volunteered and donated in 2021.
Employees have so far volunteered nearly 6,000 hours and donated nearly $400,000 ― which the company has matched ― to roughly 800 different causes, from animal welfare and conservation to chronic diseases and supporting our troops. Our employees also assembled and helped distribute nearly 25,000 dental kits to those in need including children, adults with chronic health conditions, seniors, veterans and more.
In 2022, we’ll still face many of the challenges of the previous years. But no matter what lies ahead, we remain committed to providing support for our communities.
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.
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.
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 emails
Help your employees make the most of their benefits with an opt-in email series. This email campaign, available for self-insured groups, targets 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:
An email reminding them to schedule an appoint for a cleaning and exam.
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.
A reminder email to schedule another exam and cleaning (if they chose to set one).
Does this email series really work?
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 interested in the preventive care reminder campaign for your self-insured group? Contact your Account Manager to sign up!
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.
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.
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:
Send an email to your employees about the Great American Smokeout.
If you have employees working on-site, hang a quit-smoking poster in a common area to mark the Great American Smokeout.
Share a brochure about oral health and overall health to help remind employees, especially those who smoke, to visit the dentist regularly. Employees should take advantage of the check-ups and cleanings available under their Delta Dental plan. A dentist can catch the harmful effects of smoking early and can also prescribe cessation medication to your employees.