Word of Mouth

Benefits administrator blog from Delta Dental

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Get ready to brush even smarter

Going to the dentist for regular checkups is important for maintaining oral health, but what can people do at home to keep a bright and healthy smile? BrushSmart is Delta Dental’s free oral wellness program designed to help members power up their at-home oral care. Members who sign up get exclusive discounts and offers from trusted brands that specialize in dental products. This spring, BrushSmart is adding more partners and more discounts.

  • Oral‑B
  • Philips Sonicare
  • quip

Joining BrushSmart is great for your employees with Delta Dental plans. The engagement and rewards the program offers can help drive better oral health behavior and the focus on at-home care may help employees achieve better health outcomes. Let your employees know they can sign up online and take control of their oral health.

How stress affects your employees’ oral health

Every day, your employees face challenges that can be stressful and overwhelming, but the pandemic, inflation and war have all helped to push U.S. stress levels to record levels. As stress increases, so do oral health problems. For National Stress Awareness Month this April, learn why your employees may be at risk and what you can do to help.

Pandemic stress and oral health

Unfortunately, due to stress from COVID-19, dentists have seen a sharp rise in stress-related oral health conditions, according to a report from the American Dental Association (ADA). Dentists reported:

  • A 71% increase in the prevalence of teeth grinding and clenching
  • A 63% increase for chipped teeth
  • A 63% increase for cracked teeth

Even as some of the most challenging, isolating and stressful aspects of the pandemic seem to be coming to an end, money problems, inflation and war have pushed stress in the U.S. to alarming levels, according to the American Psychological Association.

Stress-related oral health conditions

It’s crucial to remind your employees to look after their oral health during times of high stress because they may be unaware that they’re developing stress-related oral health conditions.

Teeth grinding

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, occurs when teeth are clenched and ground together, and it’s frequently caused by stress and anxiety. What’s more: teeth grinding often happens at night during sleep, so your employees may be entirely unaware they have the condition.

It’s important for employees to know the signs and to seek treatment if they suspect they may be grinding their teeth. Signs include:

  • Tips of the teeth appear flat
  • Tooth sensitivity caused by worn enamel
  • Indentations in the tongue

Dentists can examine your employees’ teeth to determine whether they may be grinding their teeth at night and, if so, how best to treat it.

Gum disease

Stress can deplete the immune system, the body’s natural defense mechanism against disease and infection. And when the immune system is weakened by stress, harmful bacteria in the mouth seize the opportunity to wreak havoc on the gums. Furthermore, research shows that the systemic diseases associated with gum disease such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease may share stress as a common risk factor.

When your employees are stressed, they should take extra care of their gums by flossing and maintaining a solid dental hygiene routine. If their gums bleed when they floss or brush, they should visit the dentist right away.

Tooth decay

Stress and tooth decay often go hand in hand. People tend to make poor choices regarding their health during times of stress, eating comforting but unhealthy foods full of starch and sugar. They pay less attention to their normal hygiene routines, forgoing regular brushing and flossing if they feel stressed or depressed. Your employees who take medications for chronic stress may be at an even greater risk due to dry mouth, which is often a side effect of such medications. Altogether, these issues can shape the perfect storm leading to more cavities during times of stress.

How to help your employees

The best way to reduce stress is to remove its source. Of course, in many cases, that’s simply not possible. Counseling, exercise, relaxation, physical therapy or meditation may all help your employees manage stress during difficult times. If your company makes these resources available, use National Stress Awareness Month to remind your employees to use them.

But during times of stress, it’s equally important to remind your employees to take care of their oral health, to watch for stress-related oral health problems and to keep up with regular dentist visits.

The following resources from Delta Dental can help you raise awareness about stress-related oral conditions and keep your employees informed. With Delta Dental, you can:

Managing stress in the post-pandemic era

Many of your employees may be unaware of the crucial relationship between stress and oral health. During Stress Awareness Month, you can serve the crucial role of reminding employees to manage their stress, to watch for the signs of stress-related oral health conditions and to visit their dentist to help treat any stress-related oral health problems.

Get comprehensive utilization and health risk reports for your group

How do you know which dental benefits enrollees actually use and need? The true value of a dental benefit plan can depend on how much employees utilize their plan and which benefits they’re using. With Your Dental Health Summary, you can get these insights and more.

How are your employees using their dental benefits?

Your Dental Health Summary is a comprehensive report that helps you evaluate your enrolled employees’ utilization, oral health and risk status. The report highlights your group’s healthy behaviors and helps identify risk factors like the percentage of enrolled employees that had fillings, root canals or gum treatment. You can examine utilization and risk status indicators over time and compare your enrolled member population to benchmarks. Using this data, you can assess whether intervention, education or better patient habits could improve risk status.

What’s in the report?

When you open Your Dental Health Summary, you’ll see information about:

  • Your employees’ dental benefits utilization, including risk factors and healthy behaviors. See how your employees compare to benchmarks for taking advantage of diagnostic and preventive services. You can also review health indicators for employees at high risk for dental disease, with utilization patterns compared to benchmarks.
  • Your employees’ current oral health risk status compared to benchmarks. You’ll get risk categories for your entire group of enrolled employees, including new members, high-risk employees and employees with no dentist visits. You’ll also get a detailed breakdown of each category by age.
  • Your group’s oral health progress compared to previous years. Track the progress of your high-risk and low-risk employees and you’ll see whether your employees’ oral health has improved or declined and how many visited the dentist.

But what if you don’t know much about dental health? Your Dental Health Summary contains a guide to best practices for good oral health and how to support healthy habits. As you receive information about your employee’s plan usage, you’ll learn how to help high-risk employees and encourage dentist visits.

How do I get the report?

Your Dental Health Summary reports are available for groups with at least 500 primary enrollees. Because the reports track dental health trends over a period of several years, your group must have been effective with Delta Dental for at least two full years before you can receive your first report.

A report is generated each month but trends are tracked on an annual basis, so talk to your Sales Account Executive to discuss how often you’d like to receive the report. Reports are always delivered via email. Once you receive your report, Delta Dental’s team will also set up a meeting with you to walk you through the numbers, help you understand the data and answer any questions you have.


Making choices about your benefits package can be difficult when you don’t have a clear picture of how your employees are using it. With Your Dental Health Summary, you have a tool that gives you tailored and actionable information you can use to plan targeted, effective wellness initiatives for your group.

Twice as nice: dual coverage

Are your employees aware of dual coverage and how it works? If not, they could be missing out on substantial savings on their dental care.

Dual coverage (or coordination of benefits), as the name implies, is when a person is covered under two dental plans. This doesn’t mean double coverage, however. Both plans won’t fully cover each approved procedure. In a dual coverage scenario, the primary carrier (or primary plan) will pay a larger portion of the benefits, while the secondary carrier (or secondary plan) pays a smaller amount.

Why would my employees have dual coverage?

There are several scenarios in which an employee may have dual coverage:

  • An employee and his or her spouse both have employer-sponsored coverage
  • An employee has two benefits-eligible jobs

That’s good to know! How do my employees know which is their primary carrier?

Your employees and their dependent children may be eligible for dual coverage. Which insurance carrier is the primary depends on several factors.

For employees, the primary carrier depends on whether the employee also has dental coverage through a spouse or domestic partner:

  • If the employee does, the primary carrier is the one provided by his or her employer.
  • If the employee doesn’t, but currently has two jobs that provide dental coverage, the primary carrier comes from whichever employer has provided coverage for the longest time. If the employee has coverage through a current and former employer, the current employer’s plan is primary.

For dependent children, the primary carrier depends on whether the child’s parents are married and live together.

  • If they are (or have joint custody), the primary carrier is through the parent whose birthday falls earlier in the year. (If both parents have the same birthday, the primary carrier is the one that’s provided coverage for the longest time.)
  • If they aren’t and don’t have joint custody, the primary carrier is though the parent who has legal custody of the child.

Is there anything else my employees should know about dual coverage?

Yes. For starters, dual coverage applies only to group plans, not individual plans. Group plans can coordinate benefits only with another group plan.

If one of the plans covering the claim is an individual dental plan, that plan will always pay coverage as primary. Individual plans can’t coordinate benefits with other individual plans, either. In that situation, all plans will pay as primary.

Also, if employees have dual coverage, they must inform their dental office of both plans before they receive treatment. (Failure to do so could be considered insurance fraud!) Once they do, we’ll coordinate the cost sharing with the employee’s other plan.

An important caveat is whether the employee’s secondary policy has a non-duplication of benefits clause. While this clause won’t negate their dual coverage, it means the coverage will provide less benefit than standard dual coverage would.

For example, if an employee has dual coverage in which the primary carrier covers 50% of a procedure and the secondary carrier covers 80%, then 100% of the cost of the procedure would be covered. However, if the secondary carrier has a non-duplication clause, then only that carrier’s 80% would be covered.

Employees should also be aware that they’re still responsible for amounts that exceed maximums, charges above the allowed amount if using an out-of-network provider and charges for non-covered services.

Finally, dual coverage involving an HMO-type plan such as DeltaCare® USA can be complicated. Employees can contact Delta Dental Customer Service for details if they have dual coverage involving two HMO-type plans or a PPO and HMO-type plan.

Does Delta Dental have dual coverage resources for my employees?

We offer several resources to help your employees navigate their dual coverage. Your benefits resources page offers materials that explain dual coverage, how it works, who’s covered and offers helpful contact information for questions. Employees can also refer to the dual coverage information available on the Delta Dental member site.

Dual coverage at first may seem confusing, but with some guidance and our resources, your employees can enjoy maximum saving with minimum hassle.


Note: This post was updated to specify that dual coverage applies only to group plans and doesn’t apply to individual plans.

How Delta Dental networks ensure quality care

With Delta Dental, your employees can rely on comprehensive, high-quality oral health care. Why? One of the reasons is that we’ve built the largest dentist network in the country to ensure that your employees can always find a quality dentist they trust while enjoying substantial in-network savings. But that’s not the only advantage our network offers your employees.

Objective ratings help your employees select a dentist

For employees to take full advantage of their dental benefits, they need to feel confident in choosing a dentist who meets their unique needs. To help, we’ve tried to take the guesswork out of finding great dental care.

That’s why our online dentist directory features quality ratings for Delta Dental PPO™, Delta Dental Premier® and select DeltaCare® USA dentists within our 15 enterprise states and the District of Columbia. Developed by a neutral third party, DentaQual ratings evaluate dentists on these criteria:

  • Procedure success rate measures treatment success rate, including the likelihood of repeat procedures and post-treatment problems.
  • Commitment to best practices evaluates how well a dentist follows established standards and treatment methods.
  • Value compares the type and number of prescribed treatments and the average cost per patient.
  • Patient retention compares the degree of patient retention and loyalty.
  • Treatment recommendations compares how a dentist recommends treatment in comparison to dentists in their geographic area and specialty.

DentaQual compares each dentist’s scores to the average scores of their peers to generate an overall rating. And DentaQual automatically refreshes scores each month, so your employees will know that their dentist’s rating is always current.

Member input makes our network stronger

Our members’ opinions matter to us. That’s why we pair DentaQual ratings with Yelp ratings from actual patients to give members an extra level of confidence when choosing a dentist. We even ask our members to recommend great dentists who aren’t in our network so that we can ask them to join. 

Member satisfaction was our main objective in creating our network. In fact, in 2020, 98% of our members said they were satisfied with their dentist and the quality of the care they received.

A proprietary dentist networks offers your employees unique advantages

Unlike some other carriers who lease their networks, we’ve built our own. Of course, you might ask yourself why the network matters as long as your employees have access to dental care. It’s because your employees will enjoy several distinct advantages with Delta Dental’s networks versus a leased network:

  • Quality. We have direct contracts and relationships with our dentists and hold each to consistently high standards. In a leased network, carriers may not have a relationship with dentists, and dentist credentialing may be inconsistent.
  • Size. You can count on our network size to be accurate ― we update our directory daily ― and since we have relationships with our dentists, turnover is low. Carriers with leased networks may not know exactly how many dentists their networks contain, and if the carrier’s network lease ends before your contract does, some of your employees could find themselves without an in-network dentist.
  • Value. Our networks offer predictable, consistent fees. Leased networks may not be able to make that promise. And we never charge for network access, unlike some carriers with leased networks that withhold claims saving to cover access fees.

The largest network in the nation means your employees save

A large network means it’s easy for your employees to stay in network, which translates to lower costs. And when it comes to a large network, we lead the competition. Our Delta Dental Premier network is the largest in the nation, based on total unique dentists, according to Zelis Network360’s September 2021 report.

Why is counting unique dentists important? Because it sets us apart from carriers that count access points instead. Access points represent the number of network dentists at each dental office where patients are treated. This means a single dentist who treats patients at several offices could be counted multiple times, which may not represent the actual number of individual dentists in the network.

With Delta Dental, you can rest assured that your employees will receive quality care. Delta Dental’s robust, nationwide networks offer quality assurance, savings, simplicity and choice.

You can support teens during National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week

The teenage years are often a time for young people to explore and learn more about themselves and the world as they approach adulthood. This may involve experimenting and testing their boundaries. The desire to try new things is a normal part of teen development, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t risks involved.

This March, you have the perfect opportunity to share information about the effects of substance abuse on teen’s oral health with your employees. National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW), observed from March 21 to March 27, is an annual recognition of the science of drug use and addiction among teens.

Why do teens use substances?

By the time they reach 12th grade, almost 50% of teenagers have used illicit drugs and 60% have tried alcohol. The reasons for substance use vary and include:

  • The desire to fit in and be social
  • Experimenting with experiences and relieving boredom
  • Coping with stress, trauma or abuse
  • Low self-esteem
  • Showing independence

How do drugs and alcohol affect oral health?

In severe cases, drug and alcohol abuse can result in overdoses or brain damage. But illicit substances can have less noticeable long-term effects.

  • Dry mouth. Drugs like meth and heroin often reduce the saliva flow in the mouth and result in dry mouth.
  • Tooth decay. Drinks with alcohol in them can be very acidic, which can cause enamel erosion.
  • Acid reflux. Alcohol can cause acid reflux by relaxing muscles in the stomach which usually prevents stomach acid from traveling up the esophagus.
  • Teeth grinding. Also called bruxism, teeth grinding and clenching can be a result of muscle spasms that occur when stimulant drugs like ecstasy or cocaine are taken.
  • Ulcers and sores. While acidity in alcoholic beverages can cause ulcers in the mouth, street drugs made in home labs can be contaminated with chemicals and bacteria that causes sores as well.
  • Oral cancer. The damage that drugs and alcohol do in the mouth can result in a higher risk of oral cancer, one of the deadliest diseases of the mouth.

Substance abuse can cause oral health issues in more round-about ways, too. Long-term usage can result in problems taking care of basic needs, like eating a varied diet or maintain an oral health routine. Over time, users can develop nutritional deficiencies that can endanger oral health. They can also develop oral health conditions like gum disease, which may increase their risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Materials you can share

As a benefits administrator, you can help address teen substance use by educating parents and any teenagers in your employ about the risks and statistics that come with illicit drug and alcohol usage. Delta Dental has materials that you can use, including:

  • Wellness articles about the effects of drugs and alcohol on the mouth
  • An email you can send to employees that features articles and videos about the connection between substance use and oral health
  • A poster you can print that shows risk factors for oral cancer

Looking for more materials? The National Institute of Health has built a variety of additional resources that you can share easily:

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